A Hockey Junkie Stares Down Summer
Like many of you, I feel this has been a disappointing season. The marathon of the NHL regular season started out with a brisk pace over the first few miles for the Columbus Blue Jackets, only to hit the wall at the one third point in the season. The following slog to the finish line had many high points, and many low points. We will take the off season to dissect a lot of those things, so no need to dive in now. Better to look at those in the bright light of summer, when frustrations can be channeled in more concrete directions, such as the erratic flight of small white balls.
But with 7 games left in the season, I for one will take the time to enjoy them for what they are. A hockey game is a good time. We are blessed to have the opportunity to see hockey played at the highest level in the world. And, on occasion, the home team holds up its end of the bargain.
One theme we will look at this coming summer is how comparatively young this franchise remains. Look at it this way. As woeful as things may seem here, we've been to the playoffs more recently than Toronto. And our chances of getting there in the future look about the same as this original 6 franchise. So from a big picture perspective, we are still on a building track, and further along then some franchises. And behind others.
Now I am not trying to blow smoke up your hockey shorts here. There are some people who are insanely frustrated with the home squad, and I am not trying to talk anyone out of that. Many of you have put down enough jack to be entitled to whatever you think. And, sure enough, its a free country, so we've got that going for us too.
A funny thing about Scott Howson. Before the year following the playoff run, he made the simple statement: "The bar has been raised". At that point he was pretty shy about saying whether or not the team was good enough to reach that bar. That was before the 2009-10 season, the December disaster, and the loss of a good coach. But he was absolutely right. The bar has been raised. Jackets fans expect the playoffs now, and the ol' college try is not enough.
Fortunately, this summer doesn't look as dismal as last summer, when there was no action involved with the team. We can finally kiss the 'old captains' experiment goodbye, as it has been a complete failure. That salary, and some under performing players salaries should come free in the summer, creating the potential for some interesting developments. We here at the Dark Blue Jacket will do our best to keep the hockey flowing and alive over the summer. There are a lot of ways we can go.
But for now, I am going to enjoy the hockey. Sit back and watch it. Howl at the refs, cheer the good guys (probably infrequently), grind my teeth at the bad guys (a good bet), but simply enjoy the fact that we still have hockey going on. Its time to let go of the angst and enjoy what we are seeing. Its a long, long way till training camp, when Ryan Johannsen breaks on to the scene.