Whether you’re a Monster Energy or coffee person, there’s a chance you’ll be indulging in your favorite caffeinated beverage tonight if you’re a Columbus Blue Jackets fan. It’s well
documented known that Whitty and I used to be staunch supporters of west coast road trips for the Cincinnati Reds and Columbus Blue Jackets back in our heyday. Times have changed, and it’s become much harder to stay up late now that everyone here at Milliron Sports have become somewhat respectable adults. I’ll still try to stay up for all west coast Reds and Blue Jackets games, but my attempts are often futile. I get so amped up during the pregame shows, decide to get comfortable… and wake up to a replay of Reds Weekly or some random poker tournament at 4am.
Not tonight. Tonight is the beginning of the Thomas Vanek Era with the Columbus Blue Jackets and I’m so excited I might not even need the coffee, energy drink, or both. For years it seemed the Columbus Blue Jackets always had scoring forwards but never a center to pair them with. In recent years, Columbus has had an embarrassment of riches at center, but nobody to put the puck in the net. Thanks to the trade deadline and an inept Vancouver Canucks front office, the ol’ Jackets may have gotten one of the final pieces they’ll need to make a run deep into the playoffs. Giving up basically nothing, GM Jarmo Kekalainen added an Austrian (g’day mate) who has scored 40+ goals twice in his career and has 350 goals since his NHL debut in 2006.
Some of the haters will say we’re getting an aged Vanek that isn’t the same guy that dominated in Buffalo, and that may be true, but he’s the type of player and scorer the Blue Jackets so desperately need. Breadman Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson (who is now sidelined for four weeks with a knee injury) currently lead the team with 18 goals apiece, so Vanek has a chance to become the leading goal scorer on the Jackets as the season plays out. He’s been stuck in miserable Vancouver so one has to believe being inserted into the lineup opposite of Nick Foligno and centered by Dreamy Alexander Wennberg, his goal production will be on the uptick.
It seems silly to call it the Thomas Vanek era considering he’s an unrestricted free agent after the Blue Jackets win the 2018 Stanley Cup, but this could very well be the trade that is looked back on as Jarmo’s greatest move if the Jackets do make a run, and more importantly, knock the Pittsburgh Penguins out of the playoffs. Who knows, maybe after winning a cup in Columbus, Vanek will want to stick around for a few seasons to finish his career on a line with Rick Nash when he inevitably takes a hometown discount to return to Nationwide Arena.
Until that happens, we’ll just have to settle for watching him beat up the back of the net on all Metropolitan Division foes.. but first, let’s let him tear up the west coast while I fight off sleep and keep doing the math in my head on how many hours until I have to wake up.