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by Bill Davidge / Columbus Blue Jackets

October 15

What a shocker!! The mainstay of the CBJ defense is out a minimum of four weeks with a sprained knee. Jan Hejda is the most underrated defenseman in the NHL from my prospective as an analyst. He is so pure in his individual approach to the game and so non-assuming as the game is being played, most people do not realize what his absence will mean from the lineup roster.

When the news broke about his injury, the first person that came to mind was Hitch. It would be very easy to just chalk it up to a so called "another injury," but it isn't. Jan Hejda was a pillar. Jan Hejda was the heart and soul of 5-on-5. Jan Hejda was the cog in the penalty kill (can't forget the best penalty killer your goaltender). Jan Hejda will be absent and it will take a cast of others to fill the void. The strength of this years CBJ team has been the roster of 23. Hitch now realizes this statement must be fulfilled by the cast of others.

With Commodore out of the lineup, Mathieu Roy has stepped up and has been an admirable fill in as another right-handed defenseman. The initial emergence of Russell and Methot this year has been more than impressive. The key to this team evolves around the continued solid play of Rusty Klesla and Fedor Tyutin. Why? The match up game that Hitch dictates by his defense pairings will be tested to the utmost. It is a good group of defenders but with the absence of #22 and now #8, the ultimate test has now come to the surface in this early season.

No worry from this end. This team has a great make up and all are respectful of their roles and purpose. The challenge will be a task for the entire defense on board this ship. The cruise has just set sail and the waters have been fairly calm in the long journey to the post season... but... as "heavy" as this team appears on paper, some murky waters are definitely on the horizon. Depth, attitude and performance will dictate a continued future success.

Stay tuned!!!

*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.

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