We all like to think we can fix things, from leaky faucets to broken windows to… professional sports teams. In this feature, we take something that is clearly broken and attempt to make it right again.
by Jeff Yerger
Last night, as I watched my New York Rangers take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (which is essentially the Rangers of New York versus the Rangers of Ohio), I couldn’t help but feel bad for the Blue Jackets. This is a team that’s been around since 1997, and have still never won a playoff game (they have made the playoffs only once). Columbus has always been the island of misfit toys, inhabited by players who were once shining stars in cities like New York and Philadelphia but are now doomed to lose for the rest of eternity to those very teams that once loved them so.
It’s a cruel cruel world, yes, but it doesn’t have to be. The Blue Jackets do have a solid lineup, they just need to hit the refresh button. 16 years is long enough for mediocrity. Something has to change, and we here at the Sunday Barrel believe we have a solution.
1. Change the name.
“The Blue Jackets” is an terrible name for a hockey team, and in recent years, the team’s jerseys don’t even show their old Blue Jacket logo, instead opting for the Ohio State flag swooshing around a star. BORING! Get rid of it! It’s tacky, uninspiring, played-out, and I hate it.
Here’s what you do… ready for this?… change the franchise’s name to… the Columbus Buckeyes.
Yes, you read that right: the Buckeyes. At first, I was thinking maybe the “Redshirts” would be cool (a la the Rangers’ “Blueshirts” alter ego) but then I realized, if the former Blue Jackets continue to suck, it’d be too easy to insert a “red-shirted college freshman athlete” joke here. So, the Buckeyes it is!
2. Okaaay… why “the Buckeyes”?
I think with “Buckeyes” comes tradition and culture. Ohio is the “Buckeye State,” and even though the state’s best sports team is also named the Buckeyes, I don’t see why the Blue Jackets can’t use the name too. I mean, there are multiple sports teams named the Jets or, say, the Rangers.
3. Eh, I don’t know man. The “Buckeyes” seems kinda lame. How can you be intimidated by a Christmas cookie?
Okay, yes, buckeye balls are delicious, but that doesn’t mean the name “Buckeyes” is ill-fitting for a hockey team. I mean, does the name “Canadiens” intimidate you? If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the Montreal Canadiens were a team of polite Mounties.
4. Change the logo and jerseys.
Make the logo classy and traditional. The busy, 90’s style logo isn’t working. If you need inspiration, look to any of the original six teams. It’s a fact: traditional is better. Switching sports for a second here, I believe that if the Philadelphia Eagles went back to wearing the simple kelly-green jersey, they’d be a better team [crosses fingers and prays to Michael Strahan that they never do].I think the same could be said for the Blue Jackets; maybe make the jerseys primary color red, with blue stripes (a la the Red Wings or Carolina, only instead of white, use blue). Just, whatever you do Columbus, do NOT hire the same guy who came up with these things.
5. The less cheesy, the better.
Yes! I cannot reiterate this enough. No more mascots running up and down the aisles, and certainly no cheerleaders allowed. Seriously, how old are you Columbus? Leave the mascots to the high school football teams. It’s just embarrassing when a professional sports team has a mascot dancing around to “Cotton Eyed Joe” and high-fiving drunk 50-year-olds all night (sorry, Mr. Met). It’s unnecessary and it gives a bad vibe.
Next, get rid of the stupid AC/DC “rock and roll salute you” cannon after Columbus scores a goal. It’s too busy and frankly, too cliche. Either create an original goal song or stick with “The Whip“. Better yet, play “Get Lucky” after every goal, because apparently that’s what it takes to win these days in Columbus.
6. Ok, what else? A name change and new goal song doesn’t exactly guarantee a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
This is true. Personnel changes need to be made, which is why I’d bring in recently unemployed coach Peter Laviolette. The guy is a great coach who can bring some grit and organization to a team in desperate need of it (I wonder why the Flyers haven’t hired him… oh wait…). He has a proven winning track record, bringing a Stanley Cup to Carolina back in 2006 and making it to the Final with Philadelphia in 2010.
I feel the Jackets really do have a good, talented team on their hands. Unfortunately, they’re the dog who finally caught the car and now has no idea what to do with it. Marian Gaborik, their centerpiece in a blockbuster trade last season, is a proven 40+ goal scorer. He’s a stud, and teams would kill to have him, Sergei Bobrovsky is Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender who can steal games from you. On top of that, you have role-playing guys like Jack Johnson, Brandon Dubinsky, and Artem Anisimov who can score, kill penalties, and can provide a good core to build a team around. Hell, it’s easy to forget Columbus acquired freakin’ Nathan Horton from the Bruins this past summer, who’s out on injured reserve for now but should play well upon return. If they add a few upgrades on defense and some more grit, it wouldn’t surprise me if they ended up making a serious run for the playoffs come March and April. They have the goods, they just need some direction and a big fat breath of fresh air.