Friday, January 27, 2012

The Letter the #CBJProtesters Wanted to See

To Columbus Blue Jackets Fans,

There is no question our on-ice performance is nowhere near what it needs to be. All of you are disappointed and many are angry. I and the entire Blue Jackets organization share these feelings. We were planning to sit back in our 'country club' style offices and ride out the season losing most of our games. We have a LOT of time before we get to draft first overall, so other than sell off some of the players we have, we weren't sure what else to do.

On Monday, I was awaken from my nap after a couple hours in the hot tub and informed that a mob of angry fans are organizing and planning a protest.  Now that our poor performing team is getting some media attention, it is time that I try and figure out what to do next.

I sent my administrative assistant to go undercover on twitter as code name @CBJ_OwnersRSmart, and rummage around the #CBJ and #OccupyNationwide hashtags to see what the fuss is about.

We've learned that the fans who should be used to losing seasons by now, are apparently growing frustrated with our lack of success. I also learned that they are telling me to fire Mike Priest and Scott Howson.  While Priest is a great Euchre partner, and Howson is a shark on the pool table, it's probably time I make some changes.

Due to the fans' outrage, we will be firing Mike Priest on Sunday Jan 29, 2012 at 10:14am as soon as he leaves Church with his family.  Don't tell him yet, we want it to be a surprise!  

For Scott Howson, we will fire him also on Sunday, but for him it will be 'American Idol' style where he will be in one room, and some other staff in other rooms.  Then I will walk in and get his hopes up that he has been chosen to stay, only at the end to say "sorry, but you're going home".

I hope this plan fits the needs of the angry mob.  If you need anything else done, go ahead and organize another protest.


John P. McConnell

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


For those that follow me (@johntkemp, thanks you 85 out there!) on twitter, you may see an occasional hilarious 140 character message about normal everyday things.  On most days, however, you'll see a great deal of tweets and RT's related to #CBJ hockey.  For a CBJ SuperFan, twitter becomes a necessity.  I've always been a rather hard core fan when it comes to the Blue Jackets, but twitter has really opened my eyes to see that there are a lot more of you out there as well!

The way I see it, the Columbus Blue Jackets have a very good following in Ohio.  And just because almost everyone I work with chats OSU football at the water cooler, that doesn't mean these CBJ SuperFans aren't mixed in.  Twitter has become the preferred tool to harness all of this amazing CBJ fanness.  All it takes is a few #CBJ tags and you can quickly find all of those other hard core fans, just waiting to talk, live and breathe Blue Jackets hockey.

CannonFest picture courtesy of 10 Minute Misconduct
In a sense, that's how I believe a great event like #CannonFest was born.  Put all of the SuperFans and bloggers online sharing ideas, and you get an amazing grass roots showing of Blue Jackets support in AUGUST!  I have great memories of CannonFest from this past Summer, and after this 2-9-1 start, I almost want to go back and feel that anticipation again.

Excitement carried over into Training Camp where the Ice Haus was packed with fans to watch the Owner's Tournament.  Opening night at Nationwide Arena was sold out.  Fans are driving in from Cincinnati, Cleveland and all over for games even after a rough start.  I believe it's time to take our fanhood to the next level...Practice!

All non-game day practices are open to the public and are usually at the main ice of Nationwide Arena.  The entire lower bowl seats, even along the glass, will be wide open.  Let's all gather together for a practice, show our support and mix in a few "Let's Go Jackets" chants.  For now, I will call this event #PracFest (patent pending) as a combination of 'practice' and 'festival', but with a tribute to 'CannonFest'.

Looking at the schedule, I believe a great date for this will be Monday Nov 14.  The Blue Jackets will destroy the Jets on Sat Nov 12, will probably get the Sunday off, and then have practice in preparation for the Clutterbuck and the Wild coming to town on Tues Nov 15.  This also should time out very well for the return of Carter and Dekanich.

So tell your friends, wear your jerseys, and come ready to cheer on the CBJ during their practice on Mon Nov 14! (Official time will be announced the day before, should be around 11am)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Almost Laughable (with tears)

I want everyone to think back to their #CBJ happy place for this season.  Excitement and anticipation were at a franchise high during training camp based on the off season (potential) improvements.  I can only imagine that your CBJ happy place (the high point of the Regular Season) is the exact same as mine and also any other fans there may be left right now.

To put it another way, if we were to chart expectation and excitement for this club over time, it would pretty much follow the curve of a pinball game where the handle is broken, and the ball slowly slides downhill and eventually drops into the abyss...

CBJ optimism over time
That's right, the highest point to the season was the very first puck drop on home ice during the opening game against Nashville on Oct 7.  Nashville scored first, the Blue Jackets never had the lead, and essentially nothing has gone right ever since.

I believe we now all need to accept the fact that the franchise is cursed.  There can really be no other explanation for what has occurred over the tenure of the franchise and more specifically this season.  I haven't come up with a catchy name for this curse yet, but that will be for a future posting. The #CBJ twitter folk are quite crafty and I remain confident it will be settled in less than a week.

Why do the Hockey Gods hate the Blue Jackets so much?  This may just be speculation, but I heard that Boomer (@CBJ_Boomer) was caught giving Hockey Jobu's wife a foot massage.

How else can anyone explain this ridiculous set of linked events over the past few weeks?  Certainly this team has made some mistakes, and failed to capitalize on opportunities, but isn't that true of most if not all teams?  This Blue Jackets team even without big-named players in the lineup is way better than an 0-7-1 team.  A typical team that comes out of the gate winless in eight games is usually getting blown away during the games.

Show me a game where the CBJ have lost by more than 2 goals.  The games at MIN, DAL and DET certainly weren't their best games, but they were still 2 goal games (I tend to ignore allowing empty net goals for my math).  I don't think anyone would conclude that those games were blow outs.  Three other games were one goal games and could have easily gone either way.  Let's remember that Johnson's goal was disallowed against DAL due to #DD in the crease, and that Columbus had the lead to start the 3rd period against VAN.  The remaining two losses are the Colorado shoot-out loss where the tying goal was scored with 41 seconds left, and Saturday night's loss to OTT where they gave up TWO goals with 36 seconds left.  Obviously these two games were winnable!

How much of this is mental for the players right now?  If Vermette wasn't goalless in eight games (just 2 assists), and if the team had already notched their first win, I wonder if he wouldn't have fallen over at the blue line with an empty net open at the other end.  That marks twice within the first eight games where the Blue Jackets could have sealed victory with an empty net goal.  Both times the empty net goal may not have seemed necessary to win, but both times missing that opportunity has led to losses.

I say this start is laughable to the point where it draws tears mainly because this team cannot seem to catch a friggen break.  We have all had days like that where it seems impossible for everything to perfectly go wrong all at once and all at the same time.  That is the Blue Jackets season so far.  They locked their keys in their car after getting a flat tire in the rain on their way to the Emergency Room where their spouse went after falling on a slippery patch of ice in the parking lot after losing their job.
Sunrise, Columbus OH

That's a pretty low feeling. But as many of you noted on Sunday October 23, the sun actually did rise in Columbus OH.  The next day came. Like it or not, there are 74 more games to be played this season, and despite starting with the worst record in franchise history, why do I feel like this is one of the best rosters the CBJ have ever had, and the record is not a very good indicator of what the team deserves.  Certainly what counts is the points, and this would be quite a substantial feat to climb back into the race, but I feel good about this team.  Despite loss after loss, I feel encouraged that they will get it figured out and prove a lot of people wrong.  We haven't even seen that $58 Million guy.  I wonder if he can help?

It seems most fair to say that everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong and then more went wrong.  It really seems like a bad dream, and I will admit that I felt rather sick to my stomach after the Blue Jackets gave up 2 goals in the final  36 seconds.  Based on how the season has been going, it was a perfect way to close the eighth game and what should have been a sure win with the late lead.  I could only laugh as it became rather hilarious to me that the win was snatched up like a bully with lunch money not even giving the CBJ a regulation tie point!  HAHA HAHA HAHAHA (*sniff)

No Words

Seriously, no words...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No Room for Modesty

For those out there that would even consider reading a small fan blog such as this I consider you part of a small group that I have named the #CBJ SuperFans.  As a member of this small, yet elite group you gain a priviledge which helps you fast forward right to the important content. That is, I will not be doing any recapping, or rehashing of information that by now you not only know, but have read about 14 times.  Okay SuperFans, with that out of the way, let's dig in...

There are many out there that will deminish, or downplay an empty net goal.  After a full season of stats for a player, some may go so far as to itemize these empty net goals and even attempt to nullify their importance compared to goals scored by beating a goalie. I would like to offer a contrary opinion, one that concludes much of the opposite.  Empty net goals count the same as every other goal, and for some franchises could mean the difference between a win and a loss.

My theory goes something like this. The players like to avoid the "selfish" label.  There is always an emphasis on playing as a team, and passing the puck.  When it comes to empty net goal opportunities, it almost becomes like a charity game. If a teammate has been in a goal slump, maybe I'll try to get it over to him for the easy goal. There is some hesitation to doing whatever it takes to put the puck in the net.

When goalies are pulled, there is typically around a minute left in the game, and normally a one goal lead.  The team with the lead tends to fall into a bit of a prevent defense as they attempt to bear the 6 on 5 attack.  The sense of scoring urgency for the leading team is not there, and the mentality it to try and hold on for the final onslought of shots.

For a team like the Blue Jackets desperately begging for their first win of the season, having the puck over the red line with an open net available should lead to a goal. That goal may not feel necessary at the time, but ask the team if they would want that goal now.

This may be part of the adjustment for Jeff Carter (and the poor guy has the flu!).  Perhaps in Philidelphia they didn't give up a lot of game-tieing goals in under a minute. Maybe they were a team that could aways bounce back in OT or win in a shoot-out. Well this is the Blue Jackets, and history will sadly tell all of us that they do give up a lot of late goals, struggle in overtime and don't get me started on shoot-outs.  Umberger has been with the team long enough to know that sometimes an empty net goal is the difference between 2 points and 1.  And even though it's only one extra point, the difference for the fans, and the psych of the players is very high.  If Umberger had a puck late in the game with an empty net, he would have found a way to get it in.  That goal can settle the team.  There is no room for modesty and the players have to earn it.

Fear not, the #CBJ Eternal Optimist will leave you with some positive parting thoughts.  Carter is very new to the team, the culture and the city.  This franchise has many attributes not found in any other franchise (good and bad).  It will get better Jackets fans.  The scoring chances have been there in every single game.  Three of the four losses have been by one goal.  A lot of excuses, but still some positives to take away.  Let's be patient and remain loyal fans, they need us.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Moment of Anticipation

Take a moment and enjoy this, right now.  The NHL season is finally upon us, and our beloved Blue Jackets have just started training camp.  Excitement is in the air around Columbus, and a great example of this was from the first on-ice day of camp, where the Ohio Health Ice Haus was packed with fans.

Photo: @APortzline via Twitter

This is a special moment for us fans where we don't see under performing players, dismal power plays, and shoot out loss after shoot out loss.  No, this is the 2011-2012 season, and nothing can or will go wrong.  Cherish this time as we the fans can play out the entire season in our minds and accomplish exactly what we expect. Some may think a tight race to grab the 8th spot, others may see a Central Division Championship, or even the 'Holiest of Holy' silver cup.  As delusional as that sounds, or is, it doesn't matter during this time of anticipation.

As Jacques tells us from the longest running sitcom in TV history (Simpsons) during their first season:
"To the most beautiful moment in life, Better than a deed, better than a memory, the moment... of anticipation!"
 The season will come and go.  The Blue Jackets will get to play 82 games, maybe 86 games, and with a little luck over 100.  Players will get hurt, defenses will break down, losing streaks will happen, shorthanded goals will be allowed.  We will also see a fair share of shut-outs, hat tricks, winning streaks, and Prospal goal celebrations.  These emotional roller coasters are what draws the fans in, and keeps them coming back year after year.  These games are the "deed".

Photo: @RedditCBJ via Twitter
When the season is complete and we all collectively look back and reflect on the successes over the year, we will remember certain parts that made it special and we will need to keep those thoughts with us over the long (hopefully not too long) off-season.  These are the 'memories'.

But now, right now, we have anticipation and no one can take that away from us. This is what drives us crazed fans to insanely follow #CBJ or #CBJ00 (inside joke) on twitter.  This is what drives @Skraut_ to create amazing Blue Jackets highlight videos (Call to Arms). This is what causes great events like CannonFest to be born. This is what drives random dudes like me to think they can write and create a fan blog (tell your friends!).

So I ask only one thing of all of you before the first puck drops for the season:  Take it all in, and enjoy it.  Let's have some fun this season following our beloved team at Training Camp as the young guys try and find a spot on the roster.  Let's show them how excited we are and how much we care.  Let's high five each other as total strangers in the Ice Haus when one Blue Jacket player scores on another Blue Jacket player.

And finally, let's all be thankful that the CBJ owners and the city of Columbus are committed to this team, and keeping us entertained year after year.

I won't officially give my season prediction yet, but I'm sure you can probably guess what this 'eternal optimist' will expect to see from the club.