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Jackets grateful to be healthy as training camp begins

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The question was an obvious one for a team that lost a nightmarish 509 man games to injury last season.

“Are you doing anything differently?”

Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson, sadly no stranger to injury during his own playing days, nodded his head, pulled the mic closer and offered his perspective on a hard-luck run of injuries that derailed a club with high expectations and plenty of potential in 2014-15.

“It’s a very fair question,” Davidson said. “As an organization, we had countless meetings and countless discussions on what happened, how and why (injuries) happened, was there any correlation to them? And there wasn’t. We’ve assessed everything.

“When you skate in front of the net, get hit by a puck and fracture a bone in your hand, that’s just the way it goes. There was no correlation to the injuries happening because of training. I know our players have had a good offseason.”

If it was an ankle injury on Monday, it was a groin injury on Tuesday. The math works out to nearly seven regulars absent on any given night, a tough ask of any team in any sport, and particularly so in a sport where every player is asked to pull the rope and fill a specific role.

Injuries can’t be an excuse and the Blue Jackets weren’t and aren’t looking for sympathy – they just wanted answers. Could these injuries have been prevented? Were the players training the wrong way? Is there anything that can be altered for the upcoming season to put them in a better position from a health standpoint?

The Blue Jackets, as of Wednesday, are a fully healthy team as they begin their 15th training camp on Friday morning at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. Defenseman Ryan Murray, limited to only 12 games a season ago, has been working diligently throughout the summer to get back into peak shape and hit the ground running once camp begins.

Relative newcomers like David Clarkson (31) and Rene Bourque (33), who had their seasons knocked off-track by injuries very early in their Blue Jackets careers after being picked up mid-season, are eager to revive their careers as well.

“(Murray) is a really, really good hockey player,” Davidson said. “That’s a big addition.”

“(Clarkson) wants to prove to everyone that he’s still a good hockey player,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen added.

More than anything, the Blue Jackets are hoping that they simply have better luck than they did a season ago.

“That’s basically what we feel it’s boiled down to,” Davidson said. “We feel we’ve improved in the culture of training as an organization, and that’s part of what we were trying to do when we got here, to help the player really understand how important the offseason is.”

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