The Columbus Blue Jackets are scrapping for their playoff lives right now, currently holding down the final wild card spot in the East. But nothing has ever been guaranteed for this franchise, which is why a player such as Boone Jenner is so integral to success. Jenner helped the Jackets to a critical 4-0 win over the New York Islanders yesterday, getting a greasy goal in tight to open the scoring, then dishing to Mark Letestu for another.
The first time I interviewed Jenner, he was 15 years old. You can read the article here. It's funny how the roots of his gritty, determined play already seemed to be there, even as a youngster.
A lot of those quotes still apply to Jenner today.
“He’s involved, he’s in the high traffic areas,” said his father Matt, who coached Boone that season. “The puck seems to follow him all the time because he’s in the game.”
That describes his goal yesterday. But he can also make the high skill plays, like this set-up for Mark Letestu:
Jenner has been a great asset for the Blue Jackets in his rookie season, racking up 202 hits in 68 games to go along with 25 points. Back when he was playing for the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs in southern Ontario, Boone was looking forward to playing in the Ontario League, where older brother Leo had played as a member of the Plymouth Whalers.
“We shoot some stories back and forth,” Boone said. “He lets me know what it takes to be there and what I need to do to stay there.”
Boone went on to become a star for the Oshawa Generals and won bronze with Canada at the 2012 world juniors. As a 15-year-old, he looked up to Jarome Iginla.
“He hits, he’s a captain, he fights, he scores and he gets his team going," Jenner said at the time.
If the standings hold, Jenner will actually go head-to-head with Iggy in the first round of the playoffs, as Columbus would be the underdogs in a series against Boston. Now all grown up as a 6-foot-2, 208-pound 20-year-old, Jenner can get up close and personal with his role model – and the Jackets will need him to do just that if they want to pull an upset.