After reading every article and watching nearly every game, I have determined the problem with the Columbus Blue Jackets. I know why they suck. I can sum up all their problems and reasons for failure with one simple word: me. Yes, I regret to inform you fellow Blue Jackets fans that I, Anthony, am solely responsible for this mess.
Allow me to explain...
I started following the NHL in 1985 when I was 9 years old growing up in Connecticut. I distinctly remember this because the Hartford Whalers had an improbable run in the playoffs (yes, it was only the second round, but still). I was enamored. The Whalers were the hometown team. They seemed to be a team on the rise. They took the Canadiens to 7 games in the second round and almost knocked them out. My parents were die-hard Ranger fans so I kind of had a split-allegiance, but I definitely liked the Whale.
The next year, 1986, they were Adams Division champions. I went to their first playoff game and watched Paul MacDermiad (sp?) score the overtime winner against the Nordiques. Paul Lawless, Ron Francis, Dean Evason, Kevin Dineen, Mike Liut. I was hooked. No more split-allegiance. The Whalers were my team.
It was almost like the instant I decided they were my favorite team, they went downhill. After going up 2-0 to the Nordiques, they lost the series 4-2. They never won another playoff series before they ceased to exist.
In college, still a fan, I went through the Brendan Shanahan debacle and followed them right up until they left Hartford.
Now living in Ohio, I tried to continue rooting for the now Carolina Hurricanes. It was difficult, but with Center Ice and the Internet, I managed. They had their moments in a weak Southeast Division, but they weren't great.
Then there was an anomaly. They made an improbably run to the Stanley Cup finals. They lost, of course, but there was hope. This team was on the rise (much like the 85-86 Whalers). Nope. The wheels came off the next year and they were right back to mediocrity.
I stuck with them for a while, but there was this other team I started watching on TV. They were still one of the new kids on the block in the NHL. They were young. They worked hard. They were fun to watch. They never seemed to give up even though clearly inferior. The crowds watching them were, to quote Jeff Rimer, ELECTRIC! Plus they were the hometown team. They were the Columbus Blue Jackets.
I began watching the Jackets regularly. Like my early days as a Whalers fan, I was enamored. Plus the team had several former Whalers: Sanderson, Dineen, Kron, Kucera, and Cassels. Something told me it was time to switch my allegiance. I decided that I was no longer a Hurricanes fan. I was a Columbus Blue Jackets fan.
Within the next two years, as if a monkey had been removed from their backs, the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. It was like they were suddenly able to compete now that they were no longer my favorite team. It was like a kick in the groin to see them hoist the Cup. I stop liking them and suddenly they are Stanley Cup champions??? They couldn't have done this a few years ago? Nope. I guess it would be too much to ask to experience the jubilation of having my favorite team win the Stanley Cup.
But at least I had the hometown Jackets to watch. They were young. They had the top stadium experience in the country. Surely they would turn things around and become a winner!
But of course, it was almost like they were doomed the moment I decided to make them my favorite team. Sure they had that one playoff appearance, but there is absolutely nobody in this world who could consider them a success story at this point. What has prevented them from becoming a success? What is the one constant? Me.
Think about it. In 26 years of being a die-hard hockey fan, I have never been able to say that my favorite team was a winning team. Yes, I've had my moments, bu they have been few and far in between. 26 years is a long time to go without watching my favorite team succeed. I can only imagine what Cubs fans go through . And I know I'm being overly superstitious, but I can't help but think my bad luck has somehow rubbed off on my favorite teams.
Sorry Jackets fans. Blame me. If you know of anything I could do to break this curse, you just tell me and I'll do it. I'll try anything. Well, almost anything.