For a change, Blue Jackets fans are optimistic

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The top three topics on sports talk shows in this city are usually Ohio State football, Ohio State football recruiting and Ohio State football's spring practices.

The Columbus Blue Jackets haven't upset that pecking order, although they are elbowing their way into the conversation.

Dead last in the league early in the NHL's shortened last season, the Blue Jackets suddenly found the winning touch. They went 19-5-5 down the stretch, energizing their fan base and shocking a lot of opponents used to walking over the 12-year-old franchise.

With the addition of free agent Nathan Horton to go with Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and a solid if largely unknown roster of proven pros, the Blue Jackets are expecting big things as they prep for a season of promise.