Blue Jackets Success Good for Hockey in the USA?
February 19, 2009 by Big Tony
The Columbus Blue Jackets have registered a point in eight straight games and have won seven of those contests including a four game winning streak. This recent streak, backed by the stellar play of netminder Steve Mason, puts the Blue Jackets in prime position to make the playoffs for the first time in the team’s brief history. Helping Mason lead the Jackets success this season is mister Blue Jacket himself Rick Nash who has been a very bright spot on a team which has had very limited success—that is, until now. Offseason acquisitions Kristian Huselius (Calgary) and R.J Umberger (Philadelphia) have helped make the Jackets a viable contender this year and possibly for years to come. With a core group of relatively young players Columbus will be making plenty of noise on the ice for many years to come.
The success of the Blue Jackets thus far this year is only half the story because what we’re seeing is a potential hockey hotbed in its infancy. Until this year the only hockey presence in Ohio that has had any sustainable success has been via the Ohio State University. Although success at the University level is great the potential for Ohio to blossom in terms of hockey almost certainly requires the success of a major professional team. The significance of the Jackets being in Columbus is that they are the highest level of professional sport in the city which means there is no competition for fan fair from the popularity giant that is the NFL. Success for the Blue Jackets can make them the darlings of the city and would be the first of its kind in the U.S. since other cities tend to have other pro teams in one of the other three major sports. With that in mind, the on ice play of Rick Nash and company is not significant only to the potential of the Blue Jackets and the city of Columbus, but it could also be a major victory for the popularity of the sport of hockey in the U.S. So American hockey fans, if your team happens to fall out of contention throw a cheer the way of the Blue Jackets, their success might help you out more than you realize.