Norway`s Knutsen Received Raves From Blue Jackets King
“Espen Knutsen will be a very important player for us, and will do all for him to have success. He is an extremely fast, technical and intelligent player. These qualities compensate for his size (5-10)” said Head Coach Dave King to Norway`s Dagbladet Newspaper.“Already 9 years ago I said that Espen Knutsen while in Norway would come to be very special” added Coach King. “I saw him in the winter 7-8 times, he had tremendous success on Sweden`s best team and he was the most exciting player in the entire Swedish Elite League. That told me a lot about him, we needed to get him signed” -Dave King to Dagbladet.Espen is one of the first players signed for the expansion Blue Jackets. The Jackets had taken notice of Knutsen`s success at Swedish Champion Djurgården where Knutsen broke Peter Forsberg`s playoff points record in the 2000 playoffs. Some of the questions asked to Dave King regarded Knutsen`s last journey to the NHL, 3 years back. In simple Knutsen has matured both talentwise and mentally since that debacle in Anaheim. King also commented that Knutsen was never really given any real chance during his time. In Columbus he will receive a lot of ice time to do what he does best. It is important that he can play without the media on his back (other than the Norwegian press) and actually suffer through some down games which will allow him to mature.
King likes the dimension that Knutsen brings and is not waiting for any miracles but he does bring an important dimension to the offensive play. King is regarded is Canada`s and one of the world`s most merited hockey coaches as he has seen time commanding the Canadiens and Flames. This new club is a true challenge not only for Knutsen but King as the club is made up of many new to the NHLers… half of which are Europeans. The philosophy of the Blue Jackets is not to buy expensive veterans but to bring up younger players, europeans etc…in the first season and develop them. “Perhaps next year we can start talking playoffs”-King.Knutsen will begin training with the Jackets on September 7. The first exhibition game is the 15th against Pittsburgh and the first home opener on the 7th of October vs Chicago.This voyage may be different for Knutsen but the players are bigger and tougher this time around than they were three years ago. With the wait on the status of Krystoff Oliwa as Knutsen`s side arm… Knutsen may thrive or dive with or without Oliwa.