All night, the Blue Jackets asked the fans to remember back to the first season in 2000 and to celebrate. After the first minutes of play, I could remember that season all too well. It was nice to enjoy a game without a lot of Red Wing fans who have conveniently forgotten the pre-1996 years acting as if their team was always the gold-standard for the NHL. Your team is good, Detroit, and I respect you for all the hard work that Scotty Bowman, Jim Devellano, Ken Holland, and of course the Illitch family have done. You stumbled the first years out of the gate after the team was bought from the Norris family, but your intelligence has been rewarded, a great team for not only your fans but hockey fans everywhere.
It was terrific last night at Nationwide, a game that we Jacket fans have waited for. But it showed that a lot more work needs to be done. I’m not going to trash individual Blue Jackets here; I’ll leave that to other bloggers who seem to enjoy that. But the team is still five to eight players away from getting past the first round in the future. The team needs players at ALL postions and Scott Howson will be busy again over the summer.
On the drive home, I listened to Bill Davidge tell the audience that this is all a learning experience and that the team will be so much better in the next few years because of this. Bill, I know the players are learning from this and certainly the fans had their eyes opened by this, but I hope others will learn, too. I heard so much about the superior puck possession skills of the Red Wings and am not doubting you, but want to ask when the Blue Jackets will try puck possession themselves. I learned that Rusty Klesla is a pretty decent defenseman afterall, so how can we keep him healthy and motivated next season. I learned that Derek Dorsett has hockey skills that need to be cultivated, so let him shine next season like he did this playoff. Raffi Torres, I look forward to seeing him play a bigger role next season. And RJ Umberger just kept getting better again in the playoffs and I bet that the Flyers wish they still had him.
I can’t wait to attend the game on Thursday, even if it is the last one. I’ve waited since October 7, 2000 for these extra games.