Now, as a disclaimer, I must say that this isn’t a slam against the Columbus Blue Jackets. I’ve always wanted them to be successful (though not too much in the standings, for obvious reasons), but I’ve also always referred to them as “Atlanta North.” Why? Well, a few years ago it was just mostly a reference to both franchises’ futility, but over the last couple of years it’s become more than that. Witness:
- Regular season futility: The Blue Jackets have exactly one season over .500; the Thrashers had three (uh, edge: Atlanta?)
- Playoff problems: Both teams have one playoff appearance and both teams’ appearances ended the same way, with a first round sweep.
- Questionable coaching broken up by a guy who’s won the Stanley Cup, then was fired the year after he got them to the playoffs (Hitchcock lasted quite a bit longer than Hartley, though).
- Having a wunderkind goalie (or two) who never quite worked out the way that they needed to.
- The loss of your marquee player in a trade of questionable quality.
- A general manager whose capabilities are a subject of much discussion — that was the nicest way I could put that one.
- Being awarded the All Star Game only to lose it to a lockout.
So there you go. I’m pretty sure there are other comparisons to be made between the two franchises, but these are just odd. Hopefully the hockey gods don’t have something in store for CBJ like they did for Atlanta, because the stars aren’t exactly aligning very well right now — except for the John Davidson hire. Kudos on that one!
Here’s hoping the Blue Jackets stay put and get successful, because the last thing Gary Bettman wants (I’m sure, since he seemed to care so much the four previous times it’s happened under his tenure) is for a franchise to relocate.