Hello playoffs and goodbye playoffs. Looks like that's what the Columbus Blue Jackets are saying as the Detroit Red Wings are one win away from advancing.
I'm glad the Jackets made it to the playoffs though. They deserve it, and so do their fans. From all accounts the first game, aside from the final score, seems to be a resounding success.
Craig Custance - Sporting News:
A crowd of 19,219 came to be a part of history in Columbus, and while there wasn't much to cheer on the ice during Detroit's 4-1 win, the night marked a significant moment off it for the Blue Jackets.
Before this season, Columbus was suffering from steadily declining attendance and, worse yet, the Blue Jackets were threatening to become irrelevant in a town better known for its college football.
But with their playoff debut Tuesday night, and the buzz filling the area leading up to it, the city made it clear it has embraced the Blue Jackets. And playoff hockey.
"I think we're turning a corner here as a franchise. . . . The buzz in this city is that we matter a little more now, we're more in the fabric," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We have our time of the season like OSU has their time. We matter right now. That's huge."
That's great to read in my opinion. Take note snobbish, traditional-market NHL fans. Even a Canadian-based journalist is hopping on the bandwagon.
Rory Boylen - The Hockey News:
COLUMBUS – I have to say, driving into the city Monday evening I was a little skeptical of what the atmosphere surrounding the Jackets would be; a team in the post-season for the first time in franchise history.
On the first evening I counted more baseball and college logos around the town than Blue Jackets memorabilia. So, despite being a Blue Jackets booster all season long – and letting Adam Proteau know he was going to have to live up to his early-season bet day in and day out – I thought we might find ourselves in the middle of a stereotype. That being, small market American franchises have non-existent fan bases and I might find myself coming out of the experience with, reluctantly, more ammo supporting a migration of these fickle, unsupported franchises to the Great White North.
But then game day came.
The city remained quiet in the morning and the drizzly weather discouraged me even further as to how many rambunctious, zealous fans would be out showing their support and gaining momentum for their team. But then – and all of a sudden – about an hour before the gates opened the streets were flooded with people wearing Jackets jerseys, sporting war-era mutton chops and Union caps; the city had come alive.
That's just it: too many fans and journalists stereotype newer, small-market and non-traditional hockey markets without ever setting foot in the city. In March James Mirtle found out that he was mistaken about Nashville. Now Boylen sees the light too.
I've known. I've been attending games in Columbus and Nashville since 2000. Wake up! And stop drinking the Kool-Aid coming from northern journalists and fans. Hockey can survive in a variety of places - not just the north, and it can make converts of skeptics - even a four-letter network employee.
Kevin Allen - USAToday:
COLUMBUS, Ohio — ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit says his 2-year-old son Chase walks around his Columbus-area home carrying a small hockey stick and chanting, "Let's go Jackets. Let's go Jackets."
"I didn't know anything about the NHL in 2000 and I can't tell you what a Blue Jackets fan I've become," Herbstreit said. "My family ... we are completely addicted."
The Herbstreits won't be alone in their zealous support Tuesday night when the Columbus Blue Jackets play the Detroit Red Wings in the first home playoff game in the franchise's eight-season history.
"There's been a lot of buzz and it's rekindling the spirit of the inaugural season," said Scott Bagenstose, a season ticketholder since the team debuted in 2000.
I hope Herbstriet isn't fired for his unabashed love of hockey.
Anyway, Nationwide Arena is a great venue for hockey, and Columbus can support a team. There's plenty to do, and plenty of places to stay within walking distance of the arena. Also, I'd rather attend a game there than some other NHL arenas, like United Center in Original 6 town Chicago.
Oh and like I posted in March, I heard more hockey talk in Columbus than I have in Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Buffalo.
Good luck to the Jackets ... except when playing the Wings.