[Reader Gabriel offers his thoughts on the past week's goings-on...]
Some time during the miring heat of the 2012 summer, a conversation between two old friends took place. I imagine it started with the usual how are the kids and grand kids, how’s the wife before the real reason for the call came into focus. I was not part of that call, but at some point our own Jeff Rimer was able to say enough glowing things about Columbus Ohio to convince his good friend since high school John Davidson that the rebuilding of the Columbus Blue Jackets was a project he should undertake. When that call ended the winds of change started to move and as of the firing and subsequent hiring of Jarmo Kekalainen, those same winds have become a gust which has sent a message not just to the NHL, but to the entire Hockey playing World that the future of NHL hockey is in Columbus Ohio.
The Genius of the new GM hiring did not come into focus until I saw an European article posted which showed a picture of our new GM’s face in the center of the NHL logo with the caption, “Jarmo the First!” It was that moment which brought into sharp focus the fact that we North Americans are but a fraction of the sports obsessed population of the world. And the proud people of Europe who love their hockey as much as we do, have NEVER had one of their own lead a team in the greatest hockey league on the planet. They have never had the opportunity to show the world they are just as capable, just as good, no… they have never had a chance to show they world they are better than the rest! Upon the shoulders of “Jarmo the first” are not the hopes and dreams of a man, a city, or even a country. He represents the would be greatness of an entire continent.
John Davidson’s list for GM had a single name on it. Considering the availability of names like Fenton and Hextal, that cannot be understated. He knows winning in Columbus will require culture change and two ways to change a culture are: 1. Bring in players that have no concept of the old culture and 2. Bring in a leaders who’s very presence motivates players to reach beyond themselves for something greater. Jarmo, by all accounts can do both. By the admission of every GM interviewed, he knows how to select gritty talented players, his track record proves that. He has also been described as arrogant. I for one embrace that. Too long have the CBJ leaders come across as nice guys. Its time for some CBJ moxy. I want our boys wearing our emblem to walk into the room and own it. More importantly Jarmo puts Columbus on the international sports map. Imagine for a moment being a European hockey prospect or free agent who’s would be contributions now determine the fate of “The First.” You are not playing anymore for Columbus, or yourself. You are playing for all of Europe and I guarantee that Europe and the world will be watching.
For the first time in a long time I don’t just hear the words of change, I can feel the winds of change upon us. Not the lip service from those who have never tasted victory, but from the mouths of men who have been there before. When these men speak of Lord Stanley’s cup it no longer feels as though it is some pipe dream. It feels like the inevitable conclusion of their predestined journey. I hope they are right and I hope that Jarmo becomes the First European GM to Drink from Stanley’s cup, and to read the headlines which will no longer read “Jarmo the first,” but rather “Jarmo the Great!”
CBJ fans I hope you are ready, we are about to get exactly what we have wanted for so long. Go Jackets!