The Columbus Blue Jackets opened their second training camp with great excitement and expectations following an inaugural 2000-01 season that saw the club become the third NHL expansion team to post 70 or more points in a their debut season. The Jackets, like their NHL brethren across North America, opened camp with a day of medical examinations and fitness testing. In 2001, this day fell on Tuesday, September 11th.
As players gathered at Grant Medical Center in downtown Columbus to undergo their annual first day regiment with team physicians and strength & conditioning personnel, news spread of a plane crash in New York City. A short-time later it became apparent to everyone that what was going on in lower Manhattan was much more than that.
As players wrapped up their activities downtown, they made their way to Nationwide Arena. Some had planned to skate in the CoreComm IceHaus the day before the official first day of on-ice workouts on Wednesday. Others were there to see the training and equipment staffs or simply to hang out before the long NHL season really got underway.
None of those things happened as the players instead gathered in their lounge inside the club dressing room to watch the tragic events of the day unfold. Doing the same in conference rooms in the club's administrative offices were the organization’s front office staff.
The hockey world was touched directly by the tragedies of that day as Los Angeles Kings Director of Pro Scouting Garnet "Ace" Bailey and Mark Bavis, an amateur scout for the club, were en route to Los Angeles for the Kings training camp on United Airlines Flight 175. Their plane was the second to hit the World Trade Centers that morning, striking the South Tower just after 9 a.m.
This week, the Blue Jackets and the NHL's 29 other clubs will celebrate the start of another season with the opening of training camp. It is once again a time of year filled with anticipation and excitement for the promise of what is to come. Every team is tied for first place and each has dreams of hoisting the Stanley Cup in nine months.
Today, however, the Blue Jackets and the NHL pause to remember all those affected by the events of a decade ago. We grieve for the lives lost and remain in awe of heroic actions of so many on that day and in the days, weeks, months and years that followed.