Thursday, March 12, 2009


Since being founded in 2000, the Columbus Blue Jackets have failed to make the NHL postseason every time. While the hockey team's history is relatively short, they stand out as the only club not to qualify even once for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Prior to the start of the 2008-09 season I purchased a ten-game ticket plan for the Blue Jackets. I was lured in part by season ticket holder priority in getting access to playoff tickets. (Not having to pay a stupid personal seat license helped too.) Guarded optimism about the team existed, but success this season was no sure thing. Still, I wanted to go to some games, and the package seemed like a relatively good deal that had the potential upside of allowing me to see a playoff game or two if they happen.

Tonight's contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins was my ninth of the ten games for which I was allotted a ticket. Lucky me. The success and proximity of the visitors made this a hot ticket, especially since the hometown Jackets are in the thick of the playoff race for once. In fact, the over-capacity crowd, which had several pockets of raucous Pittsburgh fans, was the largest ever to attend a CBJ home game.

If you're someone who doesn't understand the appeal of sports, tonight's game might have answered your questions. First of all, putting 19,000+ enthusiastic spectators--some of them at odds--into one space can be exciting in and of itself. This was easily the loudest game I've attended all season. It's cliched to talk about such a situation as though electricity is in the air, but the atmosphere does breed excitement.

The game was important to both teams in their push toward the postseason, so the meaning that it held for the participants and those of us in the stands lent additional urgency to what took place on the ice. Even if it's by proxy, winning is fun, especially if there's more at stake. It doesn't make logical sense that a charge surges through me when my team scores, but it's there anyway.

Of course, the main draw for going to games is to see people doing things at high skill levels that sometimes seem more than human. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby is one of hockey's top stars. Watching him play in person was a treat because you simply don't see that kind of talent very often. I have more of a beginner's appreciation for hockey. I never played and didn't start watching with any regularity until a couple years ago. Nevertheless, Crosby's greatness was readily apparent to my eyes. The beauty and quickness of his passes and movements were breathtaking to witness.

All of the qualities listed above combined for what may have been the best hockey game I've attended. The Jackets built a 3-0 lead, blew it in a span lasting a little more than three minutes, and pulled out a 4-3 win in the shootout.

This game means very little in the grand scheme of things, at least as far as life is concerned. (The NHL standings are a different matter.) And sure, I get why some might think it's silly to get worked up about an event such as this. Nevertheless, there's something to be said for a simple game that can bring people together to yell and cheer and be entertained for a couple hours while seeing some of the best in the world display their skills. If the Jackets don't make the playoffs, so be it, but the small thrill that comes from having one's team succeed is always welcome.

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At 9:05 AM, Anonymous LittleWit said...

That sounds like a fantastic game. I really do need to get out and see more hockey! :)


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