2023-2024 CBJ Recap

Anthony Perkins Avatar

27-43-12 66pts 8th Metro Divison

The 2023-2024 Columbus Blue Jackets season was both a season of change, and a season of drama, both on and off the ice. In May, Columbus actually dropped back 1 spot in the draft lottery moving from 2nd Overall to 3rd Overall. The fan bases dreams of Connor Bedard, and or our second choice Adam Fantilli were dashed. There was no way Anaheim was going to not pick the Hobey Baker winning Center from Michigan. Most of the fanbase settled and were psyched up about drafting Leo Carlsson. Then, something strange happened. Adam Fantilli, in an interview expressed that he WANTED, to be drafted by Columbus.

Draft night came, and with bated breath, The 5th Line watching from Pins Easton, in Columbus, saw Ducks GM walk to the podium and select Leo Carlsson! The entire building erupted with cheers, and “Fantilli chants”, it seemed Blue Jackets luck was changing.

Adam Fantilli and Columbus are Destiny
With the 3rd Overall Pick, The Columbus Blue Jackets Select…..

July 1st, NHL Free Agency opened, first order of business, the Columbus Blue Jackets announce the hiring of head coach Mike Babcock.

Mike Babcock, 9th HC of the CBJ

This move came with mixed reviews from the 5th Line. Many of us were annoyed by the choice to hire such a controversial coach to a rebuilding team. Babcock’s first presser as the 9th Head Coach of the Blue Jackets was promising, however. He spoke about how he was aware he made mistakes in his previous position. He spoke about how his daughter, who happens to be the same age as much of the CBJ roster, explained to him that his “old school” mentality wasn’t going to work, and he needed to change his ways. He said he understood this, and he knew he was going to do this moving forward. The 5th Line collectively was exciting. This upgraded roster, and a Stanely Cup winning head coach, might be just the recipe for at least a wild card slot, right?

Babcock did what?

WRONG! September 12th, literally a week before the Blue Jackets were set to take the ice for the first time, Paul Bissonette revealed on his podcast, Spittin Chiclets, that Babcock was calling players into his office and going through their phones, and those pictures and text messages were somehow, being put up on the projector in the office.

Babcock Era over

September 17th Babcock stepped down as head coach, which if were being honest, it was either that or he was going to be fired. Assistant Coach, Pacal Vincent was subsequently named the 10th Head Coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, giving the rookie head coach less than a week to prepare for training camp. So perhaps, the 5th Line’s luck wasn’t turning.

2023-2024 Season By the Numbers

697,667- Total number of fans in the 41 home games 2nd All-Time attendance record

1523- Total Shots blocked, 7th in the NHL.

318- man games lost, 245 less than last season but still too many

250- Defensive zone giveaways

19- Number of assists Marchenko had, 15 more than last season.

18- goals Voronkov had

12- Adam Fantilli goals before missing the last 33 games of the season

7- number of points the Blue Jackets improved.

4- Hat Tricks (Jenner, Marchenko, Sillinger, Nylander)

4- my top 4 favorite moments of my 4th season as a STH.

697,667- Total Attendance throughout the season. In between December and February, the 5th line showed up in force despite the woes of this season, selling out 11 of 13 games.

1523- Total number of shots blocked, 7th most in the NHL. Despite their woes, the Jackets did get better about blocking shots, and helping the goaltender.

318- Total number of man games lost to injury. 245 games less than the 22-23 season but still a lot of players on IR. Boqvist spent 47 games on IR. Adam Fantilli missed 33 games. Kent Johnson suffered a torn labrum and will miss the last two months of the season. Patrik Laine broke his collarbone early in the season and wouldn’t return. In January it was announced that he was joining the Player Assistance Program and wouldn’t return to the team.  

During last season’s recap, I had mentioned that one of the players, Jakub Voracek, was injured for much of the 22-23 season with a concussion, and was ultimately traded to the Coyotes, but he likely wouldn’t play in NHL again. He announced his official retirement last week.

50- the number of defensive zone giveaways the Blue Jackets had. The Blue Jackets had the fewest number of defensive zone giveaways in the whole NHL. This, I think, is the most surprising number of the season, considering it seemed like just about every game there were 5 D-zone giveaways.

19- The number of assists Kirill Marchenko ended the season with. Last season, Marchenko broke the rookie record for goals scored by a Blue Jacket at 21. He accomplished this feat with just 4, yes 4, assists. This season, Marchenko improved his game and finished the season with 23 goals (9 on the PP), and 19 assists.

Sneaky Goal by Marchenko

18- The number of goals by another Russian rookie, Dmitri Voronkov. Voronkov was a big addition to the Blue Jackets offense. His presence in front of the net was unmatched. He was 2nd on the team in Power Play goals behind only Marchenko.

12- The number of goals scored by rookie Adam Fantilli before he spent the last 10 weeks of the season on IR, due to a lacerated Calf muscle. Pre-season I predicted Fantilli to break Marchenko’s rookie record, unfortunately that didn’t happen.

9.5%- The percentage chance of the Blue Jackets moving from 4th overall pick to the 1st overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

4- The number of Hat Tricks scored by Blue Jackets this season. Boone Jenner, Kirill Marchenko scored his second career hat trick, Cole Sillinger scored his second career hat trick as well, and deadline acquisition Alex Nylander scored a hat trick.

4- My four favorite moments from my 4th season as a CBJ season ticket holder.

  1. Olivier vs. Rempe- Matt Rempe made a name for himself as a Rookie Fighter. At 6’8″ he had 6 inches on Mathieu Olivier. That didn’t stop Olivier.
Olivier vs Rempe via X

2. Alexander Nylander’s Hat Trick vs. The Vegas Golden Knights.

3. Elvis vs. Tom Wilson. Yes, it was a stupid, hotheaded moment for Merzly, and likely cost the Blue Jackets the game, and potentially was the beginning of the end of the Merzlikins Era in Columbus, however, Tom Wilson is nothing but a goon, and he deserved every bit of the hits Elvis managed to get in.

Elvis and Tom Wilson exchange blows

4. Finally Jeff Rimmer’s last call. After 20 years of being the voice of the Blue Jackets, long time TV play-by-play announcer Jeff Rimmer announced at the start of the 2023-2024 season that this would be his last. Nothing could have made it more special than closing out the season with a win. Every Blue Jacket fan has some kind of fond memory of Rimmer. We will miss you, Rims.

Jeff Rimmer’s final time walking out of the announcers booth.

So, the 2023-2024 season was a tough one but the 5th line stood by this team. The sky is looking bright, we have a bundle of great prospects and veterans who have so much potential. With a new GM on the horizon, whether we have a new HC or Pascal Vincent gets a second season, this team should be improved next season. May 7th is the draft lottery, then June 26th is the 2024 NHL draft. Here’s to another great offseason, and hope next season isn’t as short as this one was!






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