|Hi, I'm the Blue Jackets, can we come in?|
|Are those 15" wide leg pads|
or are you just happy to be in goal?
Another odd intangible that this team’s front office never had was a solid NHL player in the front office. I’m not saying that you can’t be a GM without ever being an NHL All-Star, but when the team had been as passé as long as they have been, walking the halls of Nationwide Arena and seeing a guy who knows what it takes on the ice goes a long way. That on its own commands respect from the players and staff. Hockey guys know hockey guys and while JD certainly proved his worth as an executive in St Louis, the players on the team also know he’s earned his stripes in the league as a player.
And then there is the feel good story of this year. It was status quo for the Blue Jackets back in February. They were snuggly nestled in 30th place after owning that slot a majority of last season. But this year was different. Obvious front office changes aside, the Jackets found themselves with a hot goaltender. I hate to toot my own horn (cause I hate when other people do it) but at last year’s Cannonfest after picking the team to finish 26th this season, I suggested the biggest thing this team needed was confidence in its goaltender. Without a doubt, that happened this season. When you have confidence as a player in your goalie, your outlook as a skater and member of a team improves - even a Pee Wee can relate to that. Once the team knew it had some skill between the pipes, Todd Richards’ message was much easier to listen to – what he was selling was easier to buy. Now we have a team that believes in itself and all it took was a little confidence.
Which brings us to the feel good story of this year – April hockey matters in Columbus once again. The media attention on the team is great and it feels good to get an “Atta boy” after being the well deserved brunt of jokes the past decade or so. The team is winning games the right way and has shown in the past 10-14 days that it can win even when it’s goal tending isn’t all-world. What’s not to like about the Jackets? Vinny is an inspirational leader, Bob is hot, and the team if full of likable guys. The winning ways of the Jackets has even allowed the existence of Jared Boll to be tolerated on twitter. And while this feels great right now, I am here to tell you that as a fan, you should expect this from “your” team EVERY SEASON. What you feel right now, what this team is experiencing, feeling that the Jackets belong in the playoff race is something every level of the organization is obligated to provide every season. I’ve enjoyed the Blue Jacket's story lines of this season very much. Bob’s rebirth in Columbus, Vinny's pointing, the fourth line actually delivering something other than fighting majors, the trade deadline, and who doesn’t feel good about the Letestu and Calvert extensions? The way we feel right now is great. Whether the Jackets make the playoff this year or not is not necessarily the point. But the fact that April hockey is once again relevant in Columbus makes this cynic happy. Having JD and Jarmo in the front office lets me know that should the expectation of being regularly competitive ever slip, they won’t hesitate to make the changes necessary to keep this team competitive for a long time. And that above anything elese feels good, oh so very good.