Mark Letestu joined the Blue Jackets last season at a frenetic time when nothing seemed to be going right.
Needing help at center ice and in the scoring department, Columbus dealt a fourth-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins and brought Letestu in for some added depth at forward. He jumped right into the mix and played his first game a few days later, and as the season unfolded, he became a useful cog in the lineup.
Letestu’s face-off acumen meant he was on the ice for a lot of defensive zone draws, and at times, he played the left point on the power play unit. The Blue Jackets were able to build some good vibes down the stretch, he said, but at the end of the day everyone knows there’s a clean slate when training camp begins and the past is history.
“Especially when you consider the way we ended last season, there’s a lot to be excited about here,” Letestu told BlueJackets.com. “We set some goals for ourselves down the stretch and we were able to achieve them. There’s definitely a sense of optimism in our room, and a much different atmosphere than when I arrived here last November.
“I think our guys are excited to get this thing going.”
The compressed schedule and shortened training camp isn’t a concern for Letestu, who has been through similar scenarios playing in college and in the American Hockey League (AHL), where “three-in-three” weekends are the ultimate test of mental and physical stamina.
And because of that, most teams should have a pretty good read on themselves in the early going, Letestu said. There won’t be much grey area, but he’s not concerned with how his teammates have spent their time away, either.
“You’re going to find out where you’re at pretty quickly,” Letestu said. “The games are coming so fast and it’s pretty hectic (with a compressed schedule). If you have guys who took time off and aren’t up to speed…it’s going to show right off the bat and in your record.
“We’ve kept after ourselves throughout and been committed to this season, so the optimism is there but it only goes as far as your win total.”