Brian Campbell is not coming here. In fact, I also find it unlikely that Marian Hossa will want to play for the Jackets, even though OSU has a thriving Czech and Slovakian department. So maybe it’s time for Blue Jacket fans to look at reality, a reality that is going to sting.
As it became painfully obvious this draft weekend, the team does not have anything of value (players) that it can deal away as it rebuilds the wreckage from Doug MacLean. But what should also be visible is that the team is not much better than they were last year, while others around us (Chicago, Phoenix) are getting better at a faster pace. All the draft picks and plentiful salary cap money cannot get this team better in a season or two. And we are only coming upon that first season.
Last year, I believe that Scott Howson watched Ken Hitchcock work with the players he had, seeing if there were some gems in the mix that could play at the level needed for the team to make the playoffs. As we all know, the team tried hard most of the time and Hitchcock and the staff worked inhuman hours trying to find something that would work, but the improvements showed that the team was two or three years behind schedule. The truth is that the team is not going to be ready in October to make a run for the playoffs, unless another team falls back and the Jackets can pull ahead. Of the eight Western Conference teams that made the playoffs, perhaps Colorado may slip if Joe Sakic retires and Adam Foote can’t find his leadership act. Maybe Nashville will lose a few games to Columbus this year, but that would defy the laws of probability. As for the other seven teams who are members of the same club as Columbus, I see improvements in each one save Vancouver and Los Angeles.
So this coming season might even be more difficult to accept for us local fans because it may be a duplicate of the one that just finished. The team will be in the hunt until March, winning some games against Detroit and Dallas, but not winning against the Chicago’s and the Edmonton’s and the Wild, teams that must be beaten in order to sell tickets in May.
I think I can be patient once again, but I can’t take all the talk out there regarding trades that don’t exist or acquisitions that aren’t even considered outside the 614 area code. If you want to read that kind of stuff, there are plenty of places to do so around here, but don’t delude yourself into thinking that it might come true because you read it.
The local press is reluctant to say negative things about Columbus and its institutions. The Blue Jackets are one of those institutions (for the time being) and I am glad that I’m not bombarded with a constant stream of bad/negative news. But I also don’t want to have smoke blown up my ass all the time, hearing that a certain star is looking to play here or that the team is a center away from dominating the Central Division. It’s going to be tough and progress might be two more seasons away, Columbus fans.