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Johnny "Hockey" Gaudreau

Johnny Hockey surprised a lot of people when he signed a seven-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets—inking the biggest free agent deal in team history. But the decision felt natural for both Gaudreau and his growing family. As he puts it, “I did my homework on places…it sounded like a perfect spot for us,” describing Columbus as, “Somewhere that I had circled on my list for a while now.” 

Columbus natives know there’s a lot to love in this burgeoning hockey town—but what was it that sealed the deal for an NHL elite like Gaudreau?

Gaudreau wearing Columbus Blue Jacket Navy Jersey during hockey game
  • "It seemed like everyone I was talking to [about Columbus] was more excited than the last…" 

    Former and current Blue Jackets sang the praises of this family-friendly hockey town, convincing Gaudreau it was, “The best [choice] for us personally and where we’re at in our life.”

  • "I’m really looking forward to jumping into this group.”

    Gaudreau cited the promise and tone of the young team as big factors: there’s emerging talent — consider last year’s performances by Laine, Werenski and Jenner — backed by plenty of camaraderie. 

  • "It's hard not to like what we've seen already. It's been great." 

    Ultimately, Gaudreau was looking for three things: an up-and-coming team with big potential, a family-friendly city, and a sense of home. Columbus and the Blue Jackets solidly checked every box.