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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.