The Columbus Blue Jackets are a professional ice hockey team based in Columbus, Ohio. They began play at the start of the 2000-01 NHL season, and they play their home games at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
The team was granted by the NHL Board of Governors to a group of investors led by John H. McConnell in 1997. The three year gap in between the franchise grant and the team's first season is an uncharacteristically long time for most modern expansion teams, as most are granted, conceived of, and begin play within a year or two at most. Part of the delay in getting the Blue Jackets onto the ice was that the team's name was decided by a poll of Columbus-area fans. Though the name "Blue Jackets" doesn't immediately seem to mean anything in particular, it is actually an allusion to the American Civil War. The uniforms worn by the Union were known as the "blue jackets," and since a number of Civil War battles were fought in Ohio, the name stuck (despite how only, *ahem*, peripherally related the Civil War is to professional hockey). The team's jerseys are a fairly even mix of red, white and blue, with yellow used for accents. The jersey's logo looks like it was designed by little Billy Smith, aged 6½ — a red ribbon-looking font forms the letters C and B, and a yellow hockey stick with a star on one end makes up the J, so the logo reads (rather stupidly) as CJB instead of CBJ. Contrary to a great many other pro sports teams, the logo doesn't contain any animals or other mascot-type creatures. The team adopted a third jersey in 2010: capital blue with antique white trim and a logo that features a wheeled cannon.
The Blue Jackets' first head coach was Dave King. He was fired halfway through the team's third season (2002-03), and general manager Doug MacLean replaced him on an interim basis until a permanent replacement could be found. MacLean coached the team for about a year, roughly the whole second half of the 2002-03 season to the end of the first half of the 2003-04 season, when he found a replacement for himself; Blue Jackets assistant coach and former Detroit Red Wings player Gerard Gallant, who held the reigns until the 2006-07 season started off in the red. He was replaced by the legendary Ken Hitchcock. He didn't fare much better than his predecessors, though; the Blue Jackets have yet to attain a winning record or even a finish higher than third place in their division. Indeed, they're often the worst team in the NHL.
The losing aside, the BJs do have some bright spots, most notably 2003-04 Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner Rick Nash, who won the trophy with 41 goals (though he had a total of only 57 points after getting only 16 assists to go along with his 41 goals). The team has also attracted some established, hardworking players since the end of the 2004-05 lockout, including defencemen Adam Foote and Bryan Berard, and center Geoff Sanderson (since traded to Phoenix). The team pulled off a surprising trade early in the 2005-06 season, as well, landing center Sergei Fedorov (now quite washed-up) from Anaheim in exchange for the underachieving winger Tyler Wright and a no-name defenceman. Goaltender Pascal Leclair, seemingly the team's newest big name, managed to record five shutouts through the team's first fifteen games of the 2007-08 season, quite a remarkable feat, as most goalies don't manage to get that many shutouts in a season, much less the first few weeks of it.
After an injury to Leclair, his minor league replacement Steve Mason, who will probably win the Calder Trophy Award as the league's best rookie for the 2008-09 season, was called up and proceeded to lead the Jackets in an unprecedented run to the playoffs. The team is banking so much on Mason that it traded Leclair at the 2009 trade deadline, after Mason's heroics put him in a backup role following his recovery from injury.
One of the team's early bright stars was left wing Espen Knutsen, who became the team's first All-Star selection (he was also the first Norwegian selected to the All-Star team), but Knutsen quit the team and returned to Norway after an incident at Nationwide Arena in March, 2002, during which a shot off his stick ended up bounding into the stands and striking a 13-year-old girl, Brittanie Cecil, in the temple. She was able to walk out of the arena under her own power, but she died three days later of internal cerebral hemmhoraging. The Cecil family settled with the Blue Jackets for an undisclosed sum, and in response the NHL mandated that nylon safety nets be installed in every arena. The safety nets made their debut on the opening night of the 2002-03 season and have been there ever since. Knutsen is still haunted by the incident, though he continues to play hockey for Djurgårdens IF Stockholm of the Swedish Elite League.
No Blue Jackets players have won any awards except for Rick Nash, as mentioned above. Though the team is popular in Columbus, it's pretty unregarded everywhere else. If the NHL's finances start slipping in the slightest, look for this team to be subjected to rumors of contraction, right up there after the Buffalo Sabres. Of the three expansion teams in the midwest (Columbus, Minnesota and Nashville), this one has been the least successful.
After winning ten more games than they lost (leading to a record a decent amount over .500) and finishing seventh in the Western Conference for the 2008-09 season, the Blue Jackets made the playoffs for the first time, after almost a decade of coming up short. Success was not to be had, however; the Blue Jackets were swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings, a fate not uncommon among young teams in their first postseason berth recently.