The Columbus Dispatch
Korpisalo ‘having fun’ with Blue Jackets, not thinking trade
What a difference a year's made for Joonas Korpisalo.
Last season, the Blue Jackets goalie approached the trade deadline with dread. As a pending free agent, he felt the deadline would likely bring an end to his time in Columbus. It didn't, thanks to his struggles on the ice, which coincided with a torn hip labrum that required surgery.
He's staring down another trade deadline that could result in a trade before March 3, but things are different this time. Korpisalo is having an impressive rebound season, recently became a father for the first time and can only laugh about his ongoing status as a potential trade target, which he's heard going back a few years.
“I find myself in the same spot every year … and nothing's happened,” Korpisalo said. “I'm still here, so I'm not thinking about it too much.”
That's also different from last year, when a teary-eyed Korpisalo felt he'd possibly played his final game for the team that drafted and developed him.
“Last year, I made the mistake,” Korpisalo said. “I started thinking about it. I'm not going to make the same mistake this year. Of course, it's there, but it's out of my hands, you know? They do whatever they want to do.”
He knows the Blue Jackets, whose hockey side is headed up by president of hockey operations John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, signed goalie Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year contract extension before this season.
The Blue Jackets also have talented rookie Daniil Tarasov, who has impressed in limited NHL duty and is waiting for a regular spot in Columbus while playing for the Cleveland Monsters. Tarasov will require the NHL'S waivers process to be assigned to the American Hockey League next season, which essentially guarantees he'll be one of the Blue Jackets' NHL goaltending options.
“I know the reality,” said Korpisalo, who started Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. “(Merzlikins) has the long deal and whatnot. My deal is ending. But I'm just trying to play games and enjoy playing. This season has been awesome. I've been playing a lot of games, so I've had a blast. I haven't won a lot of games, but compared to last year, it's been fun to play hockey again.”
His plan is to keep that attitude the rest of the way, regardless of trade speculation or potential decisions on playing time intended to protect his health.
“I'll just keep going with my business, as I've been,” Korpisalo said. “No one has said a thing (about trades), and I'm happy being here with the guys and helping this team.”
Pierre-luc Dubois, Kevin Stenlund enjoy Columbus return
Kevin Stenlund had a lot of good memories from his time with the Blue Jackets, but walking into the visiting
locker room at Nationwide Arena wasn't one of them.
“You never wanted to be in here,” Stenlund said of the room where the Blue Jackets put non-nhl players and prospects during training camp. “This wasn't the room you ever wanted to be in.”
Stenlund may have a different opinion now.
He's centering the Jets' fourth line and is again teammates with Pierre-luc Dubois, who started his NHL career in Columbus before being traded to Winnipeg. This was Stenlund's first trip back to play Columbus and the second for Dubois, who explored Upper Arlington on Wednesday while reminiscing about his rookie season and living there with David Savard.
“It was like going back down memory lane,” Dubois said. “In a way, it feels like a long time ago … and in a way, it feels like yesterday. Walking in here today with ‘Stens,' he told me he has horrible memories of being in this room in training camp, so it's like every corner you turn there's another memory. It's crazy how fast time flies.” email@example.com @Brianhedger