NHL shutdown adds to Columbus Blue Jackets’ injury-filled season

Setting aside the real-world horrors of COVID-19, the NHL shutdown was crushing for pretty much every team, but it might’ve felt like home for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Since July 1, 2019, no team has been kicked in the face over and over like they have. Pausing the season in the midst of a playoff chase was just one more kick.

The Jackets lots their three of their top stars, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, left winger Artemi Panarin and center Matt Duchene – to unrestricted free agency on deals with AAVs of $10 million, $11.64 million and $8 million, respectively. Columbus opened 2019-20 under significantly lowered expectations, determined to survive with a scrappy, stingy identity under coach John Tortorella. And then the injury assault began. There was the annual Ryan Murray injury, this one a broken hand on a blocked shot; the Josh Anderson shoulder surgery; the stress fracture in rookie Alexandre Texier’s back; star defenseman Seth Jones’ broken foot; center Alexander Wennberg’s upper-body injury; breakout right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand’s broken ankle; momentum-halting injuries to emerging goaltenders Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins; and a lower-body injury to right winger Cam Atkinson, who was slated to return March 12, just in time for the league to suspend play.

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