Doom and GloomJanuary 9, 2008
Things aren’t looking too good for local sports fans. The Blue Jackets seem to be in a funk (or perhaps merely playing to the best of their ability), the OSU Buckeyes received another pounding in the BCS Championship, and there is some squabbling that might delay building the new Huntington Park where the Clippers (hint; a baseball team) will play. I will limit this post to hockey, except to state that Jody Shelley had nothing to do with the loss in New Orleans, despite what some people think.
OK, the Jackets got beat pretty good last night by St. Louis, 6-1. The Blues are now three points ahead of Columbus in the standings, 47 to 44, and the Jackets’ record in the last ten games is 5-5-0, the same as first place Dallas. People are up in arms about Steve Mason being called up, but the reality is that Mason will not play a minute for the team and will be back in Junior. So now the fans can go back to worrying about Shelley getting too much ice time or Scott Howson not trading away one of our players for someone of greater value.
The Dispatch ran a story earlier this week and they mentioned the “P” word, or playoffs. I will admit that the playoffs have been in the back of my mind, but it is one of the things you keep quiet about until the right moment, like the latter part of the season when it matters. Nevertheless, it is out and some fans are demanding their playoff tickets now. By the way, for those of you who pay retail for your seats, do you have any idea what a playoff ticket costs? Standard pricing is double face value, and PSL holders will be required to buy the series, not just a single game. You’re welcome.
I have said in the past that I would like the Blue Jackets to be in the hunt after Christmas, preferably at the end of February. Since it is not February, the team is meeting my expectations. The Jackets have been lumped together with Chicago and St. Louis by a lot of (non Dispatch) hockey writers and if you look at the standings, they are still in that “lump”. As much as we anguish over the Jackets, the Blackhawks have been even more inconsistent, and they possess two of the most exciting rookies out there. Like Fredrik Modin, the Hawks have been missing one of their superstars, injury-plagued Martin Havlat, for most of the season. They have a dependable roster that some might argue is stronger than Columbus. The Blue Jackets have a better coach, but as we all know coaches do not lace them up.
St. Louis finally has stabilized, but it took most of the season. They did make a deal for Andy McDonald, but the deal itself was for the benefit of Anaheim. It was one-sided, with the Blues getting am immediate fix. Could Columbus have dealt away a low-cost aging forward for McDonald? Be honest! So a one-sided deal may help St. Louis get out of the lump and into the post season. Too bad we couldn’t have picked up the injured Petr Prucha for Vyborny.
I am counseling patience here and asking for you to wait another 45 days before you give up on the season. You could even say that I am waiting until next year, when the team is fully under the control of Scott Howson and Ken Hitchcock. For now, I just hope that the Blue Jackets break out of the lump in the midst of the franchise do-over.