When Milan Jurcina was traded to Columbus in late December, he certainly didn’t expect to be with a Stanley Cup contender at this point of the season.
After parts of four seasons with the Washington Capitals, Jurcina was dealt along with then captain Chris Clark to the Blue Jackets for Jason Chimera
“When they told me I was part of a deal, I asked where I was going and they said, ‘You and Clark are going to Columbus,’ ” Jurcina said. “The first thing I did was look at the standings and said, ‘Oh, this is going to be a shorter season.’ It was definitely different.”
Alas, Jurcina’s time with the Blue Jackets was short. Barely more than two months later Columbus sent the 6-foot-4 defenseman back to Washington for a conditional draft pick.
It was almost like an injury or a minor-league assignment – Jurcina was gone for a bit, but now he’s back.
“I didn’t even notice he was gone, really,” Shaone Morrisonn deadpanned. “No, it was pretty easy for him to come back though. I’ve played with him almost our entire careers. It wasn’t like there was any adjustment time for him or anything like that.”
Jurcina said he knew there was a chance he would be traded, so when he packed for the Winter Olympics he also got all of his other possessions in order in case there was a deal. Sure enough, he was on the move again on trade deadline day.
“At about 2 [p.m.] I started to think nothing was going to happen, but I looked at my phone at 2:49 and it was the GM [Scott Howson] on the phone,” Jurcina said. “I knew a few teams were interested, but when he said, ‘You’re going back to Washington,’ I was really excited.”
Jurcina moved back into his old place in the area, and is back hanging out with old friends. He is not back on the ice, though.
The rugged defenseman had double hernia surgery shortly after the second trade. He played through the injury for Slovakia at the Olympics and helped his country to a surprising fourth-place finish.
When Jurcina will play again this season remains a question mark. He will provide the Capitals with another physical defenseman and more depth on the blue line when he is ready to go.
“He’s a big guy and a physical player,” Morrisonn said. “He’s got the big shot. He’s been good for us, and he’s really good at blocking shots. He was great last year in the playoffs, and I think they brought him back for depth. It is nice because you see the injuries happen all the time.”