In the 12-year history of the Blue Jackets, a select group of players have established themselves as fan favorites, and Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre is one of them.
Having played 202 games with the Blue Jackets as a defenseman, he was not only a fan favorite but a member of the organization right from the get-go: Grand-Pierre represented the club in the 2000-2001 inaugural season and played in Columbus until 2004.
Grand-Pierre was a durable and steady defender, and at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, he was a physical presence out on the ice and the opposition knew it. The Montreal native was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the seventh round of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.
BlueJackets.com caught up with the 35-year old to see what he’s been up to.
“I played last season over in Sweden, and this season, especially with the lockout, most teams are looking for NHL players," Grand-Pierre told BlueJackets.com. "So in the meantime I’ve been doing real estate in town for a couple years, keeping busy with that.”
Making a career move is never an easy proposition, but for Grand-Pierre, there was cautious optimism involved with coming to Columbus as an expansion franchise.
“(In) year one, I didn’t know what to expect driving down I-71 from Buffalo,” he said. “But, when I saw the arena, it was amazing.”
Grand-Pierre has also been able to witness the transformation of the Arena District, which has grown exponentially since the Blue Jackets began play in 2000.
“When I first came here, the area wasn’t developed," Grand-Pierre said. "To see how nice the Arena District has become has been huge.”
Grand-Pierre loves New Albany, and he is a practicing realtor in the area. He's also very excited about the new casino on the west side of Columbus.
When the time's right to get away for a few days, Grand-Pierre enjoys road trips with his family, which includes his wife, eight-year-old son, and 16-year-old step daughter. Grand-Pierre enjoys traveling to places like Niagara Falls and New York City because he likes to make the drive rather than get on an airplane.
Grand-Pierre’s commitment to the Blue Jackets family has never wavered. He continues to keep in touch with players like Grant Marshall, who currently works for the New Jersey Devils organization.
And during the season, he keeps tabs on the team by tracking their progress in the newspaper and on the internet (with a gracious plug to BlueJackets.com).
That's because some of Grand-Pierre's fondest hockey memories come from his first year playing in Columbus, and he's not shy in reminiscing about those days.
“The first year, with Dave King and the whole crew…(there was so much excitement) from our first win," Grand-Pierre said. "They were all great memories, especially with the crowd.”
What's on his radar now? Grand-Pierre said he's anxious to watch the future of the Blue Jackets unfold, especially given the number of talented young players in the organization.
"The future is bright," he said. "We have all the infrastructure in place. We just need a winner."
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