An Open Letter

Dear Blue Jackets,

This is an open letter not to the marketing, the ownership, or the front office, but instead to the 23 players who call themselves the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Why are you doing this to us?

I don’t know if I love anything as much as I love Blue Jackets hockey. I live for jumping up at the sight of the puck in the net and the red light, for chanting LEO!, for pregame drinks with my friends at RBar, for the boys in Union Blue. I don’t expect Stanley Cups or conference finals or blow outs every night, all I ask for is that you guys show up every night and give it your best effort.  I dedicate a large majority of my disposable income to you and drive four hours round trip on game nights, and I am watching you make more money in one season that I will ever make in my life. I make sacrifices to watch this team play. I used to drive almost six hours and 500 miles round trip to watch games and still managed to make it to 13 games in one season.

I’m from Cincinnati. I’m used to loveless relationships with teams. The Bengals, anyone? I watched the Reds in some of their worst stretches of baseball (2010 was like a surreal, out of body experience). I know the feeling of loving a team who has no interest in loving you back. It’s like the love of your life cheating on you and then dumping you at the altar in front of your entire family. It’s embarrassing and it hurts.

I’m losing my love, Blue Jackets. I’m losing the will to keep dumping my energy and finances into something that leaves me embarrassed and in tears. This is not a bad team made up of bad players. The difference between this team and Loveable Losers of the past is that the ownership and management cared enough to wheel and deal for something different and better. There are a lot of solid players on this team and a lot of guys who are going to be amazing when they get a little older and stronger.

There is simply no excuse for any of this. Management gave you the pieces.

You are better than this, and I hope you realize that before it is too late.

Sincerely and painfully,
Me

Happy CBJ-o-ween!

Since they have been less than secretive about tonight being their team Halloween shindig – it’s only fair we make ridiculous assumptions about what they’re dressed as, right? Here are a few predictions, and awards:

Ryan Johansen’s curfew is 9:00, so he showed up early in his costume:
A Mythical Creature Known As a  First-Round Success*!

MYTHICAL CREATURE

(* – So far, anyway.)

Shortly after, John Moore and Matt Calvert joined him,
but it doesn’t seem as though they worked too hard on their costumes…

...wait a second...
Holy Jeepers, what a great costume!

The Russell twins decided this year to dress up together (again), and took home the ribbon for funniest costume:

It's like THE TWILIGHT ZONE!!! (s/t to @HabItHerWay)

 But the best, and scariest costume of the night belongs to one Aaron Johnson.
He showed up dressed as Christian Backman. At least everybody thinks so,
but nobody can be certain it isn’t really Christian Backman pretending to be Aaron Johnson…

Boyfriend of the Week: Week 3

It’s that time again, my friends, when I make my pick for who gets the honor of wining and dining me (hypothetically, anyway) for the next week. Boyfriends Prospal & Russell are still very much enjoying decent seasons so far (forget about Ottawa), but we must move on. Life is short!

With a less than great but hardly horrible week staring me in the face, but a surprising amount of goals and individual performances, picking this week was actually a little more fun and less of a process of elimination. With his first professional goal (a game-winner, to boot) and a couple of assists in the last three games, and despite Scott Arniel hot-gluing (hot glue works best for heavy things) him to the bench against Buffalo, I’m going to give this week’s honors to…

Awwwww.

RYAN JOHANSEN!

In just the last week alone, Ryan has stepped up his game ten fold. Against Detroit, in the team’s big win, Ryan was flying and looked much more composed than most of his  more experienced teammates. Who knows how long RyJo will stick around Columbus from here on out as he’s up to seven games, but mad props to the rook for taking a huge step in his progress over the last handful of games. Please, Mr. Howson, don’t take my boyfriend away!

0-7-1: If your heart is nowhere in it, I don’t want it for a minute.

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”

Boyfriend of the Week: Week 2

Well, after an explosive (or, shall we say, implosive) first week of the season, jammed-packed with four games, week two was not so accomodating. With only two games on the schedule — both against Dallas, both losses — there wasn’t much to work with in picking this week’s Boyfriend. Yet again, we got only two goals in each game, each coming from a different guy (Prospal, Giroux, Brassard, Russell). Secondary scoring finally showed up, yay! It would be easy to pick Prospal again, especially on the basis of: he’s leading the team in goals and his public calling-out of his teammates’ effort in the Dispatch (speaking of — good on you, Vinnypants, let’s go on a second date?). But… I don’t make anything easy! In lieu of starting repeats already, I’m going to pick a brand spankin’ new boyfriend this week: KRIS RUSSELL. 

D'awww, don't act like you didn't see this coming.

In honor of his greatly improved play from Game One until now, and despite the fact that he was a part of the group EpicFailure that allowed Jamie Benn’s highlight reel goal, he did score a pretty fantastic goal from the blue line that we need to see a lot more of from our defensemen. Especially him. Not to mention, shortly after his goal, he showed tremendous battle and kept Dallas from scoring on the vacated net in the waning moments of the game Tuesday night when the pressure cooker was turned up on high. The little guy is showing great “compete” (as our trusty broadcasters like to say) and his effort has picked up ten-fold. At a point (already) in this season where effort level may be the deciding factor between 0-5-1 and, perhaps, 3-3 or better, it’s important to give kudos (or brownies, or cupcakes) to a guy who has not taken a night off. Since Opening Night, anyway. But we’re going to pretend that game didn’t happen.

So, Krissyface, much to the groans and chagrin (also, “non surprise”) of my friends, you are Week Two’s Boyfriend of the Week. #10 in your programs, #1 in your hearts! (Or just mine.) Keep playing well and pretty soon the media will be forced to find even more creative ways to make fun of you! ;)

Boyfriend of the Week: Week 1


Welcome to Boyfriend of the Week, which is almost like it sounds but not quite. No, ladies, this isn’t our weekly gab sesh about who is looking mighty fine (heeeey, Antoine) and who’s starting to look rough around the edges (sorry, Calvert, you have to get those teeth fixed) –that’s Twitter, of course. This is merely my overeager way of talking about my choice for player of the week. And my opinion counts (to me).

As we roll into Friday the 14th of October, one short week after all of the cannon-blowing, gigantic-screen-dropping festivities prior to the Nashville game, we’re looking at a record of 0-3-1, less than ideal attendance, and suddenly all of Canada laughing at us and paving the road to Quebec City (joke’s on you, you can’t have them until 2040). The numbers alone speak for themselves: this kind of sucks. But if you look at it on a game-by-game basis, really only the road game in Minnesota was thoroughly awful. The Nashville game started with promise and kept up with a decent pace. Damn that Pekka Rinne. The Vancouver game was full of fireworks and blowing a lead for likely the first of many times, and a third period that fell apart. The Colorado game was full of promise and felt good, like aloe on a sunburn. Kind of like this: Ahhhhhhh, we’re going to do this, we’re going to get that first win. I can’t wait to enjoy this over a donut on the way h –ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW? Oh, the elusive first win.

So how do you pick Boyfriend of the Week when the team is struggling and an overwhelming chunk of the team is underachieving drastically? Well, there is always Rick Nash, with his five points in four games and a pretty decent game vs COL. But he’s Rick Nash, and let’s face it, I can’t pick him every week. So this week’s choice is:

VINNY PROSPAL

Let me admit, when we signed this guy, I didn’t know anything about him other than his name is Vaclav… or Vinny… or something like that, and he’s kind of old (I mean, compared to Ryan Johansen). I thought, “Great. Another Chris Clark/Ethan Moreau/feelsorryfortheoldwashedupguy signing.” But! I have been pleasantly surprised by Mr. Prospal. He’s one point short of Nash so far – he has 4 in 4 games –on a top line that has produced nearly all of the team’s offense. Prospal has brought an unexpected spark on the ‘Superstar’ line, and has looked very, very good. So, in Week One, I salute you, Vinny Prospal, my boyfriend of the week. Keep up the good work, and don’t forget your wallet. I don’t cook on the first date.

Blue Jackets by the Numbers: 10/7 vs. Nashville

Statistical odds and ends, courtesy of the NHL.com Event Summary for the 10/7/11 game:

  • Marc Methot had only 15:33 TOI, the least of the entire D corps, though he was far from the worst. His last shift was with four minutes left in the third. Likely because they were looking for an offensive push on the blue line in the waning minutes, but never the less bizarre. He drew a minute and a half less PK time than Martinek & Tyutin, also.
  • Sometimes the numbers do lie (despite Mike Commodore’s insistence that his -8 last season was the statisticians’ fault): Cam Atkinson was a -2 on the night, the worst on the team (his linemates were -1 each), but otherwise, Atkinson did not have a bad night. He wasn’t a force to be reckoned with, but he had a few great  opportunities dissolved by Pekka Rinne.
  • Let’s talk about Jeff Carter on the face off dot. 24-7? That is more than half of the team’s combined 42 wins on the draw. He looked a little lost at times (we’re not in Philadelphia anymore, Toto), but a 0-2-2, 6 SOG, +1, 77% face off percentage earned last night’s paycheck for Goldilocks.
  • Hit me with your best shot: Without a whole lot of bumping & bruising, the Jackets still took the line on hits, 23-10. Dorsett had 4; Russell, MacKenzie, and Pahlsson each had 3. No word on if Russell’s check on Rick Nash counted toward that number.
  • Give it away, now: Clitsome (3), Atkinson (2), & Russell (2), cost the team, contributing to the ugly 11 team turnovers.
  • TOI leader: Clitsome, 24:29
  • TOI loser: Calvert, 8:55

Fan Fest: a superfan’s guide to finding everyone (s)he needs.

 

 

Fan Fest is tomorrow – all deets are here – and look at all of those great things going on at once! But how are you supposed to keep track of who is going to be where, and when? You need your jersey signed by the new guys and a picture of Mason with his Claim to Fame Trophy, but how can you make sense of this schedule? Naturally, the answer to this problem is… a spreadsheet! Fangirl-in-chief, here, did all of the grunt work, so enjoy. And don’t blame me when Jeff Carter’s Sharpie runs out of ink because you got there at 6:51. And don’t forget, 8:15 for the on-ice skills competition!

Yellow boxes: Autographs
Smushed up blueberry color: Q&A sessions
Blue: Hockey-related (pass/shoot, street hockey, etc)
Orange: Photos
Green: Video Games

Know Your Russell

With training camp just one (!!!) short week away, and players already taking to the Nationwide Arena ice for informal practices, and there now being not one but two (!!!) Russells around, your fangirl-in-chief here decided it would be a good idea to step up to the plate and make a study guide in case you’re faced with the awkward situation of a Russell without the benefit of a nameplate, and don’t want to be that guy. Without further ado, we present, “Know Your Russell.”

RIP, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

September 7, 2011

“Heaven is a better place today because of this, but the world is just not the same.”
-  The Tragically Hip, “Heaven is a Better Place Today”

Vitaly Anikeyenko
Yury Bakhvalov
Aleksandr Belyayev
Mikhail Balandin
Aleksandr Vasyunov
Josef Vasicek
Aleksandr Vyukhin
Robert Dietrich
Pavol Demitra
Andrei Zimin
Marat Kalimulin
Aleksandr Karpovtsev
Aleksandr Kalyanin
Andrei Kiryukhin
Nikita Klyukin
Igor Korolyov
Nikolai Krivonosov
Yevgeny Kunnov
Vyacheslav Kuznetsov
Stefan Liv
Jan Marek
Brad McCrimmon
Sergey Ostapchuk
Vladimir Piskunov
Karel Rachunek
Evgeny Sidorov
Karlis Skrastins
Ruslan Saley
Pavel Snurnitsyn
Daniil Sobchenko
Ivan Tkachenko
Pavel Trakhanov
Igor Urychev
Gennady Churilov
Maksim Shuvalov
Artyom Yarchuk

Crew
Andrey Solontsev
Igor Zhevelov
Sergei Zhuravlev
Vladimir Matyushkin
Yelena Sarmatova
Nadezhda Maksumova
Yelena Shavina

Hospitalized
Alexander Sizov
Alexander Galimov