Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 4/8/13
Im going so far out on a limb here, I believe you can hear it cracking from Columbus up to Cleveland and down to Cincinnati. Im saying no one in the history of the NHL has ever completed the trifecta that Blue Jackets center Mark Letestu did last week: In the same week, Letestu scored a huge OT goal to beat the Anaheim Ducks at Nationwide Arena, he signed a two-year contract extension with Columbus, and he gave up his 10 jersey to all-star winger Marian Gaborik, after Gaborik was acquired on trade deadline day by the Blue Jackets. Now thats an active week, for any NHL player. Does Letestu agree its an all-time NHL record? Its unique, unique circumstances, he laughed. I would hope it hadnt happened to anybody else. All things considered, it was a fantastic week, obviously with the game winner, getting the extension, and then giving up the number. Giving up the number is just part of hockey. Marians been an established, elite player in this league for a long time. If thats something thats important to him, then Im more than happy as a teammate to help him feel comfortable here and make his adjustment that much more easy. Marian Gaborik came into the league in 2000 (Blue Jackets fans are well aware of the infamous coin flip with Minnesota prior to that draft) and has scored 40 or more goals three times in his career, while Letestu was a rookie with the Pittsburgh Penguins just a few seasons ago. So the decision to turn the 10 sweater over to the established veteran was pretty easy for the younger guy, who chose 55 in its place. Sometimes a number just means a lot to a guy, and he doesnt want to give it up, said Letestu. But in this case, again, Marians been a great player in this league for a long time, and a lot of people associate that with number 10. So thats just me being a younger guy in this league and helping an older guy out and giving him what he wants. OK, it all sounds like a good teammate wanting to extend a warm welcome to the newcomer. But, really, werent the negotiations long, and intense? After all, Letestu had all the leverage; he owned the 10 jersey. Did he at least demand a puck from Gaboriks five-goal game in December of 2007 against the New York Rangers? There actually are no demands tied to it right now, said the Alberta native. He said wed work something out, you know, whether thats just a nice dinner or something. But theres really no need; its just part of being a teammate, part of helping a guy out. And if he wants to take me to dinner, as teammates, thats great. (Hmmm, Im guessing that dinner may not involve a chain restaurant or paper napkins.) And so, while the memories of his unlikely trifecta are still sweet, theres now a more daunting reality for Letestu and his Blue Jackets teammates. Its a new week, and Columbus finds itself dropping in the Western Conference standings after disappointing losses to St. Louis Friday and Minnesota Sunday. Letestu is realistic about what he and his teammates have to do in their quest to extend the season beyond April 27th. We have some home games here that are musts, he admitted. You know we have to get all the home points we can. Then we have to go on the road, and its going to be a tough road trip. Were going into some tough buildings to get points, so were going to need some help. Really, out of the remaining games we almost need to have them all. It has to be a desperate mentality in here; it has to be a playoff mentality, and, you know, the mindset that were really playing for our playoff lives. Well said, 55. Thats not going out on a limb at all.
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