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Roslovic, a Columbus kid, ready for his life-changing moment

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Jack Roslovic’s favorite Blue Jackets players are (in no particular order): Ryan Johansen, Rick Nash and David Vyborny.

Nash, for his undeniable skill, and Vyborny for the same reason, along with deft playmaking ability.

And Johansen makes the Roslovic short list because “he makes it look so easy.”

Smart kid.

Roslovic has only a few days of under-the-radar status remaining, as many scouts and NHL Draft experts believe he’s destined to be a player, if not next year then not far down the road. This Columbus born, raised and trained draft prospect grew up in the capital city, played on all of its sheets of ice and is committed to play for Enrico Blasi at Miami this fall.

If you pan the litany of mock drafts available on the internet, Roslovic’s name may appear late in the first round or early in the second, depending on who you ask. The draft has been on his mind more and more lately, but he’s trying a simple deflection tactic to reduce the stress.

He’ll have a strong support group with him in south Florida, including his mom Jane, dad John, sister Grace, his grandfather, and a few other family members.

“I’ve just been saying we’re going on a nice little trip to Florida this week,” he said with a laugh. “And we’ve got a pretty good spot for the NHL Draft, so I’m going to enjoy the week in Sunrise. That’s what I’m mainly looking forward to; the draft is going to be super exciting no matter where I go or what number pick I’m taken at.

“There’s going to be a new chapter and I’m excited to find out what it is.”

Roslovic, 18, has grown up with the Blue Jackets – literally. His dad was among the first in line for season tickets over 15 years ago, and the Roslovic family has held their seats behind the visitors’ bench at Nationwide Arena all the way through. Jack was a toddler when the Blue Jackets broke into the NHL, but he still remembers bits and pieces of that inaugural game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 7, 2000.

There have been several other Blue Jackets memories along the way, notably a game against the Nashville Predators several years ago – on his birthday, no less – that featured a handful of fights and bad blood between two teams (former Central Division rivals) that had no love lost for one another.

“Mom was freaking out, but we were loving it,” Roslovic said. “They have those black tunnels above the visitors’ bench now, but back then, Tootoo had a fan hanging over the railing and just giving it to him after the fight. It was awesome.”

And he also holds a common, more recent memory with Blue Jackets fans.

“I won’t forget Game 4 against the Penguins,” he said. “Dubinsky scored that goal late in the third and had that great celebration and then Foligno scored the game winner. I don’t really take pictures or videos all that much, but I was taking videos that whole game because the rink was unbelievable. It was the loudest rink I’ve ever heard.”

There won’t be quite that kind of roar when his name is called this weekend at BB&T Center, but make no mistake: it’s going to carry significant weight. Columbus is going to have its torch-carrier for youth hockey players in The Chillers, giving them someone to look up to and say ‘I want to be like Jack’ and know that he skated on those same rinks and worked with many of the same coaches and staff.

For the record: Roslovic’s favorite local rink is the OhioHealth Ice Haus, followed by Chiller Ice Works in Worthington because “on those early mornings, it just had a great feel. The rink was so cold, the barn had a ‘bubble’ feel to it and I loved it.”

Samuel Montembeault, Daniel Sprong, John (Jack) Roslovic, and Jack Sadek (L to R) watch testing while awaiting their turns during the NHL Combine at HarborCenter on June 6, 2015 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

“Sometimes (in the past), you’d say you’re from Columbus, Ohio and people are confused that you play hockey,” Roslovic said. “I don’t think it’s that way anymore. Playing in the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program and now representing them is a big honor, and you look at the U16 team, they had over 80 kids come try out for their team this year.

“Hockey is growing here and the numbers show that; being one of those kids who can put their name in that history book (for Columbus) would be really cool.”

For now, though, that’s not the focus. Roslovic finds himself often reflecting on where he’s been and who has helped him along the way, which leads him back to help his AAA coach, Ed Gingher, run practices when he’s home. He’s quite confident that he will not be the last Columbus-born kid to be drafted early, as he himself is following the likes of Sean Kuraly (San Jose) and Connor Murphy (Arizona) through the AAA program.

“I love Columbus, and I want to support hockey in this town however I can,” Roslovic said. “That’s what I’m going to try and encourage kids here to do: try hockey, see if they like it and hopefully grow the game. I want to make it to the NHL for myself first and foremost, but there are so many other people who I want to make proud, too. Ed, my parents, everyone here in Columbus who’s supported me...they’ve all helped me.

“I don’t take anything for granted and I know that not every kid is going to have this opportunity and I’m so fortunate. It’s very special.”

And yes, Roslovic will admit it: the thought of being drafted by the Blue Jackets has crossed his mind a few times.

“It would be…unreal,” he said. “It’s a team I’ve been watching and cheering for a long time, but I understand that this is a business, too. It’s a not a league that just wants a good story. There are 30 teams in the NHL, and it’d be an honor to be picked by any one of them.”

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