by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist
NEWS ITEM: A recent 16-game win streak gave the Columbus Blue Jackets the best record in the National Hockey League.
Yes, it’s true. My Blue Jackets are finally on top. A “Cinderella” story, to be sure.
There aren’t many of us Blue Jacket fans around. Truth be told, the Bruins are my favorite NHL team, but I’ve always been a closet Blue Jacket fan, going back to when they joined the NHL in 2000.
I like the idea of a major league pro sports team in a “small” town like Columbus and I like their team name. “Blue Jackets” honors Ohio’s considerable Civil War heritage—kind of like “Patriots” honors New England’s Revolutionary War heritage. (When it comes to the Civil Wat, I’m definitely a fan of the North.
My favorite Blue Jacket is #13, right wing Cam Atkinson, the NHL leader in power play goals. My man Cam is a New Englander, hailing from Connecticut—which, like Ohio, was on the right side in the Civil War. Goalkeeper Sergie Bobrovsky has a sparkling 1.97 goals against average at this writing. A hot goalkeeper can take a team a long ways. My man Sergie was born in Novokuznetsk in the old Soviet Union back in 1988. Presumably he’s extolled the virtues of freedom and capitalism in his old homeland. I love it.
My Blue Jackets have been loveably hapless throughout most of their history. They did make the playoffs twice, but were quickly eliminated with first round losses in 2009 and 2014 respectively. But their recent win streak—one shy of the all-time NHL record—could be a harbinger of future success. May they not only win their first playoff series, but advance to the Stanley Cup Finals (assuming the Bruins aren’t viable).
I’d love to see my Blue Jackets face the dreaded San Jose Sharks in the Finals. While the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his fellow poo-bahs may prefer a New York/LA or a Boston/Chicago Final, I like the idea of two small markets making it to the Finals. San Jose actually was in the Finals last year, losing to Pittsburgh, so a classic Columbus/San Jose showdown is quite possible.
Actually, Columbus has a population of almost a million—the 15th largest city in the country. And San Jose is even bigger, with over a million inhabitants. But if we can’t have a Bruins/Blackhawks final, then bring on the Blue Jackets and Sharks.
As Cinderella said, “Dreams do come true!”
What is the maximum time limit allowed to look for a lost ball in golf? (Answer follows)
Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on January 26 include baseball catcher/actor/announcer Bob Uecker (1935) and ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky (1961)
“I gave (pitcher) Mike Cuellar more chances than I gave my first wife.”—Earl Weaver, Baltimore Orioles manager
Michael Moffett was a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord. He’s co-author of the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is email@example.com.