This team is not good enough to win the Stanley Cup. Did you think that they were?
The NHL season is six months long. Eighty two games in roughly one hundred and eighty days to whittle thirty teams down to sixteen. One hundred and eighty days to eliminate fourteen teams from existence every fall, winter, and spring. Fourteen teams do not make the playoffs. Sixteen do, but within two weeks that number is eight. In two weeks, it is four. In two weeks, it is two. In two weeks, somebody is lifting the Stanley Cup. Two months separates the best from the better than average. Six months sets the average.
Fourteen teams will not play beyond the second week of April. You know that. You’re a Blue Jackets fan. Ten times we have had a tee time before tax day and one time it was dragged out an extra handful of days. We made it that year, but they were only a little bit better than average. We got eighty six games that year.
The only thing that is guaranteed at the beginning of October is a fresh sheet of ice and eighty two games. Nothing else is promised. Nothing else is certain. Your favorite players – or hell, your favorite team – could be 2,000 miles away before the next October. Nobody clinches a playoff spot before Halloween. Nobody is eliminated from contention before Halloween, despite the everlasting joke that Team XYZ is eliminated on Opening Night.
So why are we talking about the playoffs in October? Why are we discussing the likelihood of making it? Why are we even entertaining the concept of “this team must win x percent of the next x games to be given an x percent likelihood of getting to x amount of points”? Are you kidding me? Hockey is an unpredictable sport. Teams will rise to the occasion, teams will collapse in fantastic fashion (and no, we’re not talking about those sharp new jerseys, Winnipeg), and some teams will do both.
The Blue Jackets are 0-7-1. That stinks. It really does. However, they have only not been ‘in’ a few of those games. They have battled. No, not for sixty minutes every night, but they have battled. There is promise. There have been missing pieces. Some of those missing pieces are players, some of those pieces are Marc Methot’s thumb, and some of those pieces are just heart. Sometimes, that is all this team is lacking. They made the playoffs two years ago with a less talented team. There are incredibly talented players on this team. But sometimes, I wonder if I care more than they do. I live and die with this team. I hate the summertime because they aren’t around. My weeks are broken up into game day and “days until next game.” Some of my best friendships have been made over a beer and a discussion about X-and-O. I don’t get paid to drive 100 miles each way, 25 times a year. In fact, I pay a lot of money to afford the luxury of watching multi-millionaires give a halfhearted effort.
If we can care so much, why can’t they? I believe in them. I will continue to believe in them. I know that they have it in them. Even in the pits of their worst slumps, they have had moments of functionality that prove that there is heart and soul behind the talent. I believe that between the bad bounces and the bad luck and things never going right, there is something great waiting to explode. This may not be a Stanley Cup team, this may not even be a playoff team, but on April 9 th when 82 games have been played, I want to believe that my team has tried. I will take 82 complete games – win or lose – over wasting my nights trying to predict the unpredictable. Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.
I’m not gonna write you a love song
Cause you tell me it’s make or breaking this
If you’re on your way, I’m not gonna write you to stay
If your heart is nowhere in it, I don’t want it for a minute
- Sara Bareilles, “Love Song”