The Columbus Dispatch describes how a massive new scoreboard hangs inside Nationwide Arena, but it won’t show hockey highlights anytime soon. The Blue Jackets’ dressing room at Nationwide has been transformed from a painted basement to a brick-walled museum, but it is off-limits to the players.
But to Blue Jackets players, the most frustrating aspect of the NHL work stoppage, which began after owners locked out the players last night at midnight, is that the painful memories of last season linger longer.
“That’s the hardest part,” left winger R.J. Umberger said. “You’ve got that taste in your mouth that lasted all summer. We’re competitive people, and we really want a chance to redeem ourselves.You don’t want to live with that thought, that you were 30th in the league last season, any longer than you have to.”
The Blue Jackets made sweeping changes this summer, adding forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno and Artem Anisimov, defensemen Adrian Aucoin and Ryan Murray and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. But the post-Rick Nash era can’t begin until the NHL and the union reach a collective-bargaining agreement.
“You talk to a lot of guys on our team, and guys didn’t take very much time off this summer,” right winger Derek Dorsett said. “The guys who were here were very frustrated with what went on. The new guys want to prove themselves in a new situation.”
All NHL players will get escrow checks on Oct. 15 — 8 percent of their 2011-12 salaries — so the early stages of the lockout wouldn’t be quite so painful. The first missed paycheck would be on Oct. 29.
“It’s hard for players not to play,” Umberger said. “It’s hard for players not to earn a paycheck. But it’s hard for fans who want to watch hockey to not be able to watch it. This is hard on everybody and I don’t think any of the players are taking it lightly. I’m really disappointed we’re in this situation all over again.”