Friday, July 19, 2013

Another trip in the DBJ "Way Back Machine"

It's not often that I borrow ideas from my blogging compadres here at DBJ.  But I have bumped into a lovely piece of nostalga that I had to share on the blog - and had to borrow the 'Way back' mantra.  This little gem of a sports section was found in a counterparts desk organizer at work.  A sports section from long ago.  After flipping through it today I wonder how far the team, the media coverage, and fan perception of the team/players has come since the date this paper was printed.  There was no twitter, blogs were in their infancy, and the Jackets enjoyed years of first round picks.  So sit back, relax, enjoy the rich sarcasm, and as in most of my blog pieces, prepare to have your beliefs about the CBJ challanged.

The date was Monday, November 28th, 2008.  The 2008-2009 NHL season was roughly 7 weeks old and newspapers in Hockeytowns everywhere were burying their team's coverage on page 8 of the sports section - the Columbus Dispatch was no exception.  The front page was adorned with the images of the Columbus Crew winning the globally recognized MLS Cup.  The revered Michael Arace opined that this title may earn its rightful place as a definitive moment in Columbus sports history.  I mean it is no"Game 4" - but its close.

Growing up an NHLfan in Ohio I was no stranger to, in November, the NHL being buried a couple of pages behind Major League Baseball coverage in a market where no such team existed.  Ever the optimist, its better than the days were the NHL standings were only published on Thursdays and nestled snugly between ads for Psychics and the "Transvestite seeking Necropheliac" personals.  So I should be greatful that the only Major League franchise in Columbus got 8th page coverage on a Monday, right?  As I began flipping through the pages to reach C8,  I'm reminded of how the media in this town isn't shunned for asking the CBJ brass the tough questions.

Oops, a two page ad for the amateur football team's recent victory
Ok, well - I'm not sure that "Game 4" got a two page spread in the Columbus Dispatch - but the Football Buckeyes victory over Rich Rod's Wolverines did.  As I skip past the couple pages of NBA coverage, my 32 year-old eyes find what they are looking for: Columbus Blue Jackets coverage.

Aaron Portzline calling them as he seems them with full support
of the CBJ PR Department.  Wait, did I get that Upside Down?

Found on page 8 of the first quarter assessment of the CBJ.  Again, Sarcasm aside, the very 'matter of fact' statement of the CBJ being in 8th place was appropriate.  There was little celebration of 8th place.  The team had been playing well, but in light of the team's underachieving first couple of weeks, lots of work was left to be done.  Head Coach Hitchcock, not pleased with the October performance, saw the right kind of improvement over the teams last 10 games.  But who wants to be reminded that the first 20 games of this campaign?  Seriously, the Dispatch was satisfied enough with a "quater pole" review of it's professional franchise in only a couple paragraphs in the Monday sports section?  The fans needed hope, a hero, something to feel good about.  There was no twitter to sell a sense of belonging to a young fan base hooked on Student Loans.  We needed print media to tell us who to love.

There was a breath of fresh air to to wisk away the all too familiar late November assessment of the CBJ.  Under the watchful eye of Whiz-kid GM Scott Howson, the Blue Jackets had found that blossoming 1st line center they had so desperately sought - Derek Brassard.   But as you read the four sentance, three paragraph piece, this one-two combination of Nash and Brassard has the ability to be so much more than that Sanderson/Cassels experiment.  A Calder candidate for sure (at this point he certainly was), until of course a few nights later he jacks up his shoulder in an ill-advised confrontation.  A star is born for sure.  I really shouldn't give Porty a hard time here, we've all written stuff we look back at an cringe.  Heck, I've even done it - there's the one time I plagerized an episode of Voltron in my third grade creative writing paper.  I didn't really plagerize it, I just re-wrote the episode to be much better than it actually was.  Sven getting all mental and leaving the Voltron team left too many unanswered questions. Dear Lord that paper was awful, but I digress.  Wait, does the next teeny-tiny printed tweet titled "the Goalie Conundrum" talk about Steve Mason supplanting the starting goalie?

Everything old is new again right?  Before Bobrovsky we had some SERIOUS young talent to be excited about in goal:  Marc Denis, Pascal LeClaire, and who could forget Steve Mason.  I mean who could deny the potential greatness of this goaltender, who is mentioned in the same breath as Rick DiPietro?  But seriously, who loses to the Thrashers?  Not the Blue Jackets, not on this night.  And to back-track for a second. I know we all gush about Bob, but check out Pascal LeClaire's 2007-2008 stats.  Solid goaltending stats for sure.  A healthy LeClaire would have been a good one for sure.
It's good to know the Blue Jackets coverage has come a long way since 2008.  We know that in this Hockeytown, the Major League sports team in town doesn't get buried 8 pages deep in the sports section on Monday.  As fans, we no longer ignore inconsistent results from budding young centers who get themselves scratched and insist they will be our next top line center.  The list of blackout dates the CBJ sends the NHL to schedule its games not longer includes Buckeye football games.  And to top it off - The Blue Jackets are the number one team in town, the only Major League franchise this city will embrace, and the Mayor wants to keep it that way.  No?
I guess a hockey lover can dream, right?

1 comment:

  1. I think I was at that Thrashers game. Free t-shirts, right? Anyway, I left wondering what the big deal was with this Kovalchuk guy.

    Truth be told, I've never seen Kovalchuk have a dominant game. But I digress.

    Great piece. Sometimes the more things change...

    (And I'm still bummed that Mason didn't work out. If some goalie whisperer fixes his head, he'll be fabulous. But that won't be in Philly, no way.)


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