It was the worst of times … it was the worst of times. As this forgettable Blue Jackets season mercifully came to a close, I’m left reflecting on what I learned from the hockey season that tested my fandom like no other.
Here are the lessons I took away.
• Don’t get your hopes up. Never get your hopes up. Those big off-season signings actually made me think the Jackets could jump from the basement back into a playoff slot. Silly me. They dug a new basement and jumped in there.
• Be careful what you wish for. Jeff Carter was that all-star center the Jackets have always sought. To say that he never seemed happy in Columbus would be an understatement. When he finally shipped out of town at the trade deadline, it was a highlight of the season.
• Turnabout is fair play. The public relations highlight of the season came after the Carter trade, when the Jackets offered free replacement of the nameplate on fans’ No. 7 Carter jerseys with the new No. 7 on the team: defensemen (and already fan favorite) Jack Johnson.
• Mind the gap. Goaltending? Turns out it’s important. Another season of Steve Mason not coming close to regaining his rookie form was a killer. That backup Curtis Sanford was one of the season’s saving graces says a lot about the season.
• Nothing lasts forever. This season may go down as the straw that broke the captain’s back. Franchise face Rick Nash, whose loyalty to Columbus remains unquestionable, has asked to be traded. The day that happens — likely this summer — will break this fan’s heart.
• When it rains, it pours. Just this week, Jackets fans got one more twist of the knife when Columbus couldn’t even manage to end up on the right side of a 50/50 shot at first overall pick in next year’s draft.
• Always look on the bright side. For example, they started carrying Schlitz in cans at Nationwide Arena! See? Silver lining. Also? Hockey is a beautiful, beautiful game. I can’t quit you, Jackets.