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Dose of Reality #67

September 7, 2007

Yesterday, Michael over at Army of Ohio had a very nice post about the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets, the forgotten team.  He pointed out that the team finished with a dismal 13-40 record, but also had the worst attendance in the entire USHL.  I more-or-less agree with Michael that they are forgotten, but there are good reasons that hockey fans had for not turning out to watch them lose.

First off, there are some people who say that the team was created for the benefit of our former GM, Doug MacLean.  You see, his son was a member of the team, the only skater from Central Ohio.  He put up 13 points in 55 games, not good numbers, but he was part of a very bad team.  Perhaps this is the season that young Mr. MacLean will have a breakout year.

I did see the team play a few games last year and I walked away with the impression that were simply not a USHL team.  The players would have been better served playing at another level until they were ready for the USHL.  A few them did have the skill-set needed for that level, but they could not match up against deeper teams.  It doesn’t look any better for this year, either.

It will be interesting to see if the parent Blue Jackets keep funding this venture.  I do not see how they fit into the business plan of an NHL team; they do not develop players strictly for the CBJ and they do not generate revenue.  What are they accomplishing?

If local hockey fans want to see good hockey but can’t always make it out to Nationwide, by all means go to the Schottenstein to see the Buckeyes play.  Division I hockey teams draw from the USHL, so you can see what the Junior Jackets were all striving for.  The price is right, the parking lots are cheaper, and the venue is nice.  The college players skate fast and hit hard.  For my money, the OSU hockey team is one of the best entertainment values in the area.  You might also like to check out the women’s team, too.  I have watched a few of their games and was not let down.  The Buckeyes even have a local player on their roster, too; Michele Tonnessen from Gahanna.  Michele used to play for the Gahanna High School boys team a few years ago while a student.  Michele is not someone who was born somewhere else and got her hockey start outside of Central Ohio nor did she commute to play for a team in Detroit or Cleveland.  She is a genuine, home-grown talent.

I look at the Junior Jackets as maybe the final remnant of the MacLean years.  We fans have to endure while Scott Howson and Ken Hitchcock rebuild the franchise into a bona fide NHL team.  Investments of both time and money will have to be made into things that will generate a winning team, not into personal fancies.

-Truth Serum

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