Born June 16, 1984 (age 27) in Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Right winger and captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets
We had yet to venture to my home state for MotD, so I’ve selected the captain of a team that gets very little love these days.
Rick began with the London Knights, spending two years there and earning 66 points and Rookie of the Year his first year. After racking up 71 points the next year, the Blue Jackets picked him as the first overall selection in the 2002 NHL Draft. Like Patrick Kane, he started playing with the team that first season after he was drafted, and he did so well he was nominated for the Calder Trophy (unlike Kane, he lost). The next year, he became the youngest player to lead the league in goals (41 total) and was in the running for the Rocket Richard Trophy. Then came The Year That Never Was, so Rick headed to Switzerland and played for HC Davos, leading them to the Swiss Championship and the Spengler Cup.
When hockey started up again in the NHL, Rick got a sweet 5-year deal, but injuries kept him sidelined for the first half of the season. No matter, he still made the 2006 Canadian Olympic team and played in Turin, then came back and averaged a point a game for the last 54 games of the season. In the 2006-2007 season, he was named to the All-Star Game and scored the goal that helped the Western Conference win. By the way, Rick is Mr. Forever Alone in that he’s been the only Blue Jacket named to the ASG when he goes.
Rick is known for what’s called the “goal of the year” from the 2007-08 season. It was against the Phoenix Coyotes on January 17, 2008, and he won the game by eluding two defensemen and the goalie to sink the shot. It was such a sick move that it was nominated for Best Play at the Espys! It was during that season that he was named captain of the team as well, and he was on the cover of NHL 2K9.
Rick led the Jackets to their only playoff appearance so far in 2009 but were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. He also had 79 points that season with 40 goals, something he hadn’t done since his sophomore season. To top off that performance, he signed an eight-year contract extension that started in the 2010-11 season. But for those who think he’ll never win anything, take heart: he was a member of the Canadian Olympic team that won gold in Vancouver.
I may not be a follower of the Blue Jackets, but I know that Rick will do his best to lead the team again this year and help new teammates Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski adjust their new surroundings. That’s what a captain does.