We've all seen Field of Dreams, or at least heard the line "if you build it, they will come." In the movie's case, it was referring to a baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field. In this example's case, it involves a winning hockey team in the middle of Ohio. Same difference.
The Columbus Blue Jackets fought for a playoff position through the last half of the season and missed it by a heartbreakingly slim margin, losing the tiebreaker with the Minnesota Wild on the last day of the regular season. That being said, their goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky turned in a Vezina caliber performance that actually did get him nominated for that award. Good job with the recognition, professional hockey writers everywhere!
The season started to turn around, and the organization started to show it was serious about fixing the mistakes of the past few seasons when the team hired John Davidson (formerly of the St. Louis Blues' turnaround) fired GM Scott Howson, and hired Jarmo Kekäläinen to take his place. You can't ask for much better hands for a franchise with potential to be in.
The Blue Jackets, on top of an excellent season despite losing star Rick Nash (who is showing in the playoffs why he wasn't exactly the make or break player for CBJ that everyone assumed him to be), have three first-round picks in the draft and a guru who was responsible for the likes of T.J. Oshie, David Perron, and Patrik Berglund. Can you blame Jackets fans for being excited?
Excited they are, as the team has seen a rise in season ticket purchases so far this off-season. Last season, they sold just 7000 season tickets thanks to having the worst record in the NHL. This year they've already sold 1000 tickets, according to the CP's Rusty Miller. Next season will be a tough but exciting one with the Jackets in a division that has some of the best teams in hockey in it, but fans seem to be behind their new effort, and they believe in the team's management and the product on the ice.
"There's no question a lot of the conversations are more pleasant than they were perhaps last year," Blue Jackets senior vice-president and chief marketing officer John Browne said with a laugh. "People are very emotional about it, very passionate about it. They want their opinion to be heard. There's no question over the last few months as the team continued to play really well, those less-than-friendly conversations are far fewer than they were."
There's nowhere to go but up for the Jackets, and if this season is proof, they're on their way.
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