Playoffs a treat for Chimera

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

To Jason Chimera, the NHL post-season was like a giant squid.

The local product knew it existed, but had rarely seen it.

Prior to suiting up for the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first franchise post-season appearance last season, Chimera had gone five years without playoff hockey, dating back to his days with the Edmonton Oilers. Before that, his post-season experience was limited to just two games with the Oilers in 2003.

"Making the playoffs last season was exciting for the city, the fans were all jacked up, it was a big moment for the franchise," said Chimera, at Perry Pearn's three-on-three camp at the K of C Arena. "Obviously we wanted to do a little better than to get shut out by the Red Wings, but we felt we came a long way.

"Now we have to build on it, you can't just make the playoffs every five years, you have to be a consistent team and make it every year. Hopefully we start that tradition."

The Blue Jackets had gone seven seasons without playoff hockey, dating back to their inception in 2000.

Chimera has been with the team for the past four seasons. Last year, the Blue Jackets turned a corner and managed to finish seventh in the Western Conference standings.

The franchise achieved a milestone, which they hope to build on this year.

"We now want to take the next step," Chimera said. "It's not just a case where we just want to make the playoffs, but we want to work towards getting the franchise a Stanley Cup. We know we have a lot of work to do and we have a lot of good pieces in place which is always a bonus."

Getting star Rick Nash signed to a contract extension was an important part of the building process for the Blue Jackets. The first overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, who was due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, agreed to an eight-year extension in July.

"That helps us out tons," Chimera said. "He could have gone anywhere after next year, so that shows that he wants to be there, he sees potential and that's a positive too."

Chimera has three years left on the contract extension he signed last season.

He had a great start to the 2008-2009 campaign, but then a groin injury set him back, limiting him to 49 games. Chimera finished with eight goals and 14 assists, his lowest point total since getting to Columbus in 2005. But he's healthy now and is looking forward to another strong campaign.

"I started off pretty well last year and unfortunately I picked up an injury 30 games into it," he said. "That really set me back. I was able to play in the playoffs but I was still a little bit rusty.

"Hopefully I can pick up where I started last year. I felt I was playing really well at the beginning of the season. Those things happen, you get injuries once in a while and hopefully that was the last time I'm going to get a major injury. That was the first major injury of my career."


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