Early on, seeing Fedorov play in person was enough. Even as he was in the back end of his career, I think the appropriate phrase was that he had forgotten more hockey than most Blue Jackets had learned. It was a joy to watch him on the ice. Federov, to me, remains a living legend.
And that Zherdev guy, wow. He could handle the puck like no one I had ever seen. It was a revelation. He kinda stuck out, though, like a jazz musician trying to play with a marching band.
But Sergei introduced me to Rick Nash. Nash clearly was a talent, the first time I had really seen the power forward position played in pro hockey. Nash was fast, strong and above all...Lord, could he shoot!
My Columbus Blue Jackets tenure started as Gerard Gallant's coaching tenure ended. I checked with Mrs. DBJ, and it appears that our first game live at the oh-so-incredible Nationwide Arena was Friday, November 3, 2006 as the Jackets beat the Calgary Flames, 5-4 in a shootout. Pascal LeClaire got the win, and - you betcha - Sergei Federov had a goal and an assist to lead the Jackets.
Notable about that game was that the Mrs. and I brought our niece, nephew and my sister-in-law from out-of-state to the game. Our nephew, a youth hockey player, loved the Flames mostly because he thought their jersey was cool (What can I say? It is.). But he left the game a diehard Jackets fan.
Of course, Gallant was fired 10 days later and replaced with Interim Head Coach Gary Agnew. But that didn't matter, at least to me: I was moving past Sergei Fedorov and slowly got hooked on Blue Jackets hockey.