Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guest post: On that "Occupy Nationwide" thing

[Guest poster Mark Erickson (@RedditCBJ) had this to say about the scuttlebutt of the day...]

After last night's 4-1 loss in Nashville, a growing number of CBJ fans have been tweeting that they want to organize a protest on Saturday at 2pm outside of Nationwide Arena. Among their primary complaints is that they are tired of 11 years of losing and that Mike Priest and Scott Howson need to be fired.

There are a few things here that don't make a lot of sense to me:
  1. What's going on Saturday at 2pm? Absolutely nothing. Not a single thing. There are no games on the schedule for this weekend because of the All Star Game in Ottawa on Sunday. The skills competition starts Saturday at 7pm. Most NHL personnel use this time to take a breather and to maybe take a vacation. For all intents and purposes, Nationwide Arena will be empty.
  2. The Blue Jackets ownership group met on January 16th. Rumored to come out of this meeting is that both Mike Priest and Scott Howson's jobs are safe. Per Puck Rakers these fans are protesting for something that is clearly not going to happen until at least next season:
    Priest and Howson are said to have sold the ownership group on a plan that includes potentially significant changes before the 2012-13 season, but not the front-office and roster overhaul many within the organization and around the NHL believe is needed to simply get the franchise on par with the rest of the league. 
  3. If it's "change" that these fans are looking for, Howson has stated numerous times that they intend to be very active at the trade deadline. The biggest black mark on Howson's record, Steve Mason, is speculated to have played his last (or close to it) game as a Blue Jacket. It sounds as if the team is going to attempt to either trade him by the deadline or waive him if they can't find any buyers. With the #1 overall draft pick on the line it's just as easy to lose games in front of Mark Dekanich as it is Steve Mason. If everything goes according to this plan, it sounds as if the Blue Jackets will look significantly different in March than they do right now.
After combining those three points, this protest makes less and less sense. Are the fans mad that we lost yet another game in Nashville? While I can't imagine any fan likes to lose, losing is probably the best thing this team can do right now in hopes of locking up the #1 pick in the draft. Would they rather see this team win 75% of the rest of their games only to pick 5th in the draft? Draft analysts are projecting the top 3 prospects to be sure NHL talent with a big drop off after the #3 pick. The Blue Jackets have had too many #4-#8 picks that didn't pan out.

If there was ever a time for a protest it was back in November when every other team with a mediocre record (some with over 0.500 records) was firing their coach and the Blue Jackets continued to lose at near record pace. If there was a time to protest, it was when the Blue Jackets blew 4-1 and 5-2 leads in Nashville, playing prevent defense for the last 30 minutes of the game. Or giving up 4 goals in the 3rd period on New Years Eve to the Capitals by coming out in prevent defense. These were signs of major coaching issues while Howson was saying "Coaching is not an issue." If you wanted to protest this team, that was the time. Since then, coach has been fired and the organization seems to be working on a plan to make this team a contender again.

Are these fans hoping their wish will be granted and a new GM will be brought in a month before the trade deadline? Do you trust a new GM (not many veteran GMs available and it seems Craig Patrick is content in his advisory role) to come in and handle the future of this team mid-season with only 1 month to prepare? Even if that's what you want, ownership has already decided to let Howson & Priest stick around to handle the trade deadline. If you're dead set on protesting this team, the time to do isn't on a Saturday afternoon during the all-star break in the midst of potential sweeping changes. If you want to protest, wait until after the trade deadline, take a few games to evaluate the changes made. If after the dust has settled you're still angry then protest all you want. But if you really want to be effective, start it at 5pm before a home game, not on a Saturday afternoon when no one is home. A few games come to mind: Feb 28th vs DET if they really screw up the deadline or March 11 vs STL if the changes aren't working out. Do I think the protests will be effective either way? No, not really. Ask Detroit Lions fans how the "Millen Man March" turned out... (hint: It was ~ 2 years after that before Matt Millen was finally fired).

If you really want your voice to be heard, don't protest, don't wear a bag over your head to the game... speak with your wallet. Quit buying tickets. If you have season tickets, sell your tickets or give them away so no new tickets are bought. If you want your voice heard by the folks on the business side of the Blue Jackets, you need to speak to them in a language they understand.


  1. Completely agree with everything said...

  2. Is this comment box large enough for my counterpoints?

    1. So just because those in charge say that nothing will happen, the protest should be cancelled? That's the point of a protest. People protest because change is not happening or it has been stated that change will never happen.

    2. The GM who has been at the helm of this off-course ship for almost 5 years says he is working on the problem. That IS the problem.

    3. This team has a loser mentality, and you are suggesting that they tank the rest of the season to try and get the #1 draft pick??? (Remember, it's a lottery and those first three picks are not guaranteed, even if the Jackets finish dead last). Many other NHL teams have players that were picked in rounds 2,3,4 and even 5 that have gone on to be fine players. A team doesn't have to have all super stars to be great. Just a team that has the correct pieces to play as one.

    4. No one ever said that not buying tickets wasn't a part of this protest. There are many facets to this event, with the first being the protest itself.

    I have signed this post with my real name, and you will not see me at any more Jackets game for the rest of the season.

  3. Ok, I made a mistake on the draft lottery deal: if the CBJ finish dead last, they will pick at worst #2. But still, to suggest the team tank for the rest of the season just to pick high is sending the wrong message to the team and its fans.

  4. The suggestion is not that they tank the season. Everyone wants to see them play competitive hockey. But I'm not going to get upset over a loss especially considering the injuries this team has faced.

    My point is, ownership has already said they aren't firing Howson/Priest. So what's the point in protesting their continued employment in front of an empty arena? In hopes of getting some local media attention?

    All I'm saying is ride out the next 3-4 weeks, see what's in store and then decide if you want to risk giving the team & the fans a bad name by protesting outside the arena. Your timing in scheduling this protest is just as bad as Howson's timing in hiring Arniel.

  5. You can "wait and see" one more time. I am going to let the organization know that I am not going support this ineptitude any longer.

  6. The best way to get the general fan population to stop buying tickets is to make them aware they need to stop buying tickets.. The folks who go this event know a specific result from this protest is not likely, what is expected is a show of unity that change is needed. The media is aware and most likely will report on this, it's just the beginning and won't stop until a new culture is present from the top to the bottom in the CBJ organization. Eleven years of losing long enough, it begins now.

  7. After 5 years and nothing to show for it except incompetence, you really suggest to people that they continue to wait and see what happens?? Wow. What makes somebody think they can fix it in 5 weeks, when they have had 5 YEARS to do so!?

    We have the highest payroll in team history, but the worst record in team history. Numerous failed picks, Filatov, Brassard, Voracek, Russell, Legein, Mayorov, and of course Mason.

    No other franchise would put up with this crap for this long. Hell the Oilers are already questioning Steve Tambellini after 2 years http://m.edmontonsun.com/2012/01/20/questions-pile-up-on-oilers-season

    Maybe this protest wont do anything, BUT it is most certainly better than sitting by and doing nothing! "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing" And in this case, you could change evil out with any hockey verbage.

  8. I'm saying that this protests timing is absolutely absurd. Protesting in front of an empty building in hopes that the local media with nothing else to do will give you some attention... it's silly. I'm saying if you're going to do your protest, do it after the trade deadline after you've seen the changes that are made. You're too late to protest the losing ways of this season, you should have done that in November/December. And you're doing it in the looming shadow of the trade deadline. Your timing is absolutely awful and it makes this protest look like silly.

    1. I wholeheartedly disagree. The reason this is coming about now is because of the report that no sweeping changes will be made to the front office of Country Club Blue Jacket.

      The only people thinking that it is silly, are eternal optimists like you and a few select others, who continue to think we should stay with the status quo. I dont find the protest and the timing silly or absurd. I do find it absurd that you would want people to actually wait till AFTER the trade deadline!! Do you really believe that the same knuckelheads that got us into this mess, will honestly get us out? Get real. No other NHL organization would wait this long to fire Howson. And furthermore, no NHL organization would hire a bean counter like Priest as their President!!

      Too late to protest the losing ways of the season? But Im sure if we did it in November, you would have gotten on your soapbox and said its way too early. Just wait out, we have had injuries, blahblah etc. All the lame excuses that we have heard forever.

      Look, even if you dont like the idea, dont ridicule those who are actually attempting to get off their ass and away from the keyboard and do something about it. If you have a better idea, state it and act on it. Otherwise, get out of the way for those fans who are trying to bring about change.

      As for an overhaul of the roster . . . Yeah we were promised that last summer and look at where it has landed us. We have changed players, coaches, assistants, heck even game ops, and scouting. It boils down to this. What is the common denominator? Priest and Howson. 5 years is PLENTY time to get right! Dont speak of the deadline, because they dont deserve to have their jobs a day later. Thats the point! Why dont you get that? And we definitely dont want them to botch this thing even further. Wake up!!!!

  9. Absolutely agree RedditCBJ.

    The owners are vested in CBJ success even more than fans are. For them to make firing decisions because a mob with pitchforks and torches ordered them to is absurd.

    There are many times in life where doing nothing is MUCH better than making a poor or rushed decision that makes things worse for a longer period of time.

    My faith lays with those that have put millions into this Business and will do everything possible to make it work.

    - John Kemp

  10. I bought the SUBWAY $5.00 tickets .. thats about the entertainment value . $9.00 beer $6.00 soada 3 games a year is plenty for this motley crew of players/management RICKY J.

  11. Absolutely agree with you, Reddit. I think John's comment above drives it home as well. NOONE is happy with this season. To assume otherwise isn't considering the whole picture. Further, its the rare (and dangerous!) incident when teams let fans dictate their every move. The reality is that the organization isn't going to tell us what they are going to do until they do it. Further, I think, we as a fan base need to think about how this adds to an already negative image. This team is a joke to many already due to performance - how can we, as fans, proactively have our voice heard - which includes our frustration - without further looking silly. I believe that is what Reddit addresses here so well.

    1. Alison, I respect your views (and read you blog). Yes, the team is already considered a joke amongst many around the league. But what would send a worse signal: a fan-organized protest of a badly managed team, or those same fans just simply not doing anything and displaying a sense of apathy about a team that many say should not have been located here in the first place? Personally, I feel this event, even before it has actually taken place, has shown those naysayers that the fans in this city are passionate about the Columbus Blue Jackets and actually care that the product on the ice improves.

  12. The question is not whether people are "happy" with this season. The question is whether the CBJ ownership will act in a competent manner accountable those who should be held accountable--the President and the GM. There are only three common elements in the last five years: Priest, Howson and Rick Nash. At least 2 of those need to go NOW.

  13. The CBJ management could care less about this protest. People need to STOP going to games and spending money!!!!!Thats the only way they might do anything. They are arrogant smug bunch of jerks. This is coming from a person who is close to these people

  14. I am glad that I came across this post... Good job.. keep it up.


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