John Davidson addressed the Blue Jackets today in the dressing room with a simple message: "we're going north."
Gathered on the ice for the first time since early April, and with several new faces sprinkled among the group, the Blue Jackets opened Training Camp presented by OhioHealth today before a standing-room only crowd at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. With 25 players on the ice and the entire coaching staff on hand to begin the rapid-fire learning process, the northbound journey began with a standing ovation from the fans in the building.
Davidson armed the players with the expectation that beginning immediately, the Blue Jackets' goal is to be the hardest-working team in the NHL and a club that brings a high level of intensity to the rink every single day.
And according to head coach Todd Richards, his players did exactly that. After Richards addressed the crowd, he put the Blue Jackets through an up-tempo practice that clocked in at a shade under 90 minutes, focusing on their transition game and creating traffic at the front of the net -- a hallmark of Richards' philosophy. He wants his teams to be overwhelming in the scoring areas, giving them as many opportunities as possible to score goals.
Davidson said he has no reservations if this year's Blue Jackets have to "score by committee."
"I’m more worried about keeping the puck out of the net," Davidson said. "If we do that, we’ll be fine. It’s obvious with our club that we’re going to need four lines, and they’re all going to have to do some scoring for us. We want the fans to come watch a team that’s going to work our tails off."
Richards assembled the players into line combinations that he's no doubt thought of for months. When asked how long he thought of the initial groupings, he joked that he wasn't exactly pulling names out of a hat.
Here were the first day's line combinations:
Umberger - Brassard - Atkinson
Dubinsky - Anisimov - Dorsett
Prospal - Letestu - Foligno
MacKenzie - Jenner - Boll
Gillies - Johansen - Calvert
Tyutin - Nikitin
Johnson - Wisniewski
Moore - Aucoin
Erixon - Savard