Columbus Blue Jackets Players Eager To Begin Season

Blue Jackets teammates met at the Ohio Health Ice Haus for a practice after a tentative labor agreement was reached Sunday, ending a 113-day lockout. The Jackets anticipate their first game in about a week.
Blue Jackets teammates met at the Ohio Health Ice Haus for a practice after a tentative labor agreement was reached Sunday, ending a 113-day lockout. The Jackets anticipate their first game in about a week.

Several Blue Jackets were back on the ice Monday morning practicing for their first games of the truncated season. WOSU talked with some of the players about the labor agreement and the upcoming play.

For the first time since the NHL lockout began in September, roughly ten Blue Jackets gathered at the Ohio Health Ice Haus to practice together.

Jackets players and staff do not know exactly when the first game will be or whether it will be at home or away, but it’s likely to come within a week.

Jackets goalie Steve Mason said he plans to treat the next 48 or 50 games as if it is the second half of a regular season.

“If we can get off to a really good start, it’s going to put us in a good position for the play offs. And in a shortened season, that’s what you need is to have a good start,” Mason said. “And this group of guys that we have here, new group, we’re going to be hungry and hard to play against.”

Mason said everyone’s looking forward to the short-lived training camp. As far as the labor agreement, he said it was a tough process.

While Jackets right wing Derek Dorsett said he hasn’t seen the entire labor agreement that took 113 days to reach, he says he trusts it’s a fair deal.

“Everyone’s relieved that it’s finally over and that we can get back to work,” he said.

And like some of his other teammates, Dorsett was apologetic the negotiations were so lengthy.

“You know, alls we can do is, you know, say sorry to them, and, you know, it’s part of the business,” Dorsett said. “But at the same time we understand the fans are going to be frustrated. And the fans that stick with us, we’re thankful for them. And the ones that, you know, may not come back, we got to try our hardest to win some hockey games and get them back behind us again.”

The rest of the team will be making its way back to Columbus this week from Europe and parts of the U.S. and Canada.

The lockout ended Sunday morning when a tentative deal was reached after a 16-hour marathon negotiating session. The sticking point in the negotiations was the salary cap, set at $64.3 million for the next season.

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