Columbus has two professional sports franchises — the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer team, and the Columbus Blue Jackets, a National Hockey League franchise. (Some would argue that the real big-league team in town is the Ohio State Buckeyes.)
The Crew won the MLS Cup a few years ago, but the Blue Jackets have been a kind of Sad Sack team. The made the playoffs one year and quickly were eliminated. Other than that, their record has been abysmal. In most years, they have been virtually eliminated from the playoff hunt by the beginning of January, and the hardy souls who buy season tickets are begging their friends to use the ducats thereafter.
This year is different. The Jackets have a new coach, are playing a new style of hockey, and have started the season 13-6, including a stellar 7-1 record on the road. The team has a good corps of young players, including star scorer Rick Nash, and two good goalies in Mathieu Garon and Steve Mason. While the season is still young, there is hope in Columbus that the franchise may have turned the corner. The question for hockey fans is whether the CBJ could be one of the NHL’s better teams, capable of playing deep into the playoffs — something that would be good for Columbus and great for the franchise.
We may learn the answer soon enough to the question about how good the Blue Jackets really are. On Friday the perennial NHL power, the Detroit Red Wings, visit Nationwide Arena for a key divisional contest.