"What the f*ck just happened?": Nobody understood Gaudreau leaving Flames for Columbus

Jul 14 2022, 2:31 pm

It was just five words, but it changed the hockey world forever: “Johnny Gaudreau is going to Columbus.”

Former Calgary Flames forward Gaudreau completed one of the most shocking transactions in NHL history yesterday.

After it was confirmed on Tuesday evening he’d be hitting the open market, Gaudreau stunned just about everyone by selecting his destination of choice: the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Having previously played his entire NHL career with the Flames, there were whispers for several years that the New Jersey native Gaudreau would one day end up signing with an Eastern Conference team, with the desire to be closer to his family largely cited as a key reason for the move.

But while many seemed he was destined for either his childhood team in the Philadelphia Flyers, or one of the NYC-area teams in the Rangers, Islanders, or Devils, Gaudreau went a little west and signed a seven-year deal with a reported $9.75 million per season salary with the Blue Jackets.

And, well, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly what everyone was expecting. Three key factors surprised everybody: geography, team quality, and the actual contract itself.

While I can personally vouch for having a great time in any of Ohio’s three major cities of Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, it’s hard to say the state has the same national reverence or draw like as New York does. Furthermore, it’s about a nine-hour drive to his hometown from the Jackets’ arena, so it’s not particularly close anyway.

On the ice, the Blue Jackets have been bumbling along the last few years after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2020 COVID-19-induced playoff bubble. They’ve missed the postseason in each of the past two years, finishing sixth in the Metropolitan Division last year.

And then, of course, there’s the actual contract itself. Calgary reportedly offered an eight-year deal with an average annual value of $10.5 million to Gaudreau, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

When Friedman broke the actual news of Gaudreau leaving, it led to plenty of reaction from the internet:

Like myself, plenty of people were there to defend Columbus as an actual city.

Former NHL goalie Eddie Lack might have the clearest, concise reaction, though.

Whatever the case, it’s a done deal now. Welcome to Columbus, Johnny.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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