Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Hypocrisy of Accepted Mediocrity

There has been some comentary lately about the need for patience from Jackets fans. I know many hockey teams struggle to maintain the interest of their fanbase with a losing team, and I think it is a shame that the NHL has to work so hard for their fanbase, considering how exciting the sport is. I do not, however, think any fanbase should be forced to grow through mediocrity. If you consider some of the greatest NHL fanbases currently, you may as well be looking through time to storied franchises full of excitement and good fortune. The cup runs by the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and Chicago Blackhawks of the original six, over decades of dedication, solidified the fans into a lifelong commitment to their team.

Yet, for some reason, there is a new unspoken request to fans for patience through tough times. The request to embrace a team who loses, in hopes of watching them someday win. It seems that mediocrity is meant to be paid for, and beyond the casual fan, people should pay for it throughout the year.

I disagree.

For many reasons, I do not believe that mediocrity is something any club should be able to portray to their fanbase. I believe that all NHL teams can compete, it is simply a matter of conditioning them in the right ways, and producing the appropriate line pairings, specialty teams, and goaltender matchups. In Columbus there is a different animal currently running rampant through the dressing room. Laziness.

Laziness, in my opinion, is the direct cause of their nine game funk. Laziness is a luxury they did not afford themselves last year after bringing in Steve Mason, and it was a lack of that very concept that drove them to the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the body movements of players, both before and after the whistle, you can see a certain sense of disinterest towards the game at hand. It is this laziness that drives a fan like me away from a team.

If an organization wants to preach mediocrity, they do not have a very strong business ethic. Most know that in business, you are either extremely good at what you do, or you work your tail off until you have reached that point. For the Jackets, being full of youth is the number one excuse used by the coach and pundents. If they want to fall back on youth, I will fall back on how youth are supposed to play this game... With speed, tenacity, energy, and a general excitedness that can not be bought on the open market.

They say 'we have excuses' regarding their record. I say 'I have had enough excuses, it is time to see some success.' We have a team that should be more competitive than last year. We have a group of talent that should be able to compete beyond any other team in the NHL. When they show up for a game, it is one of the most exciting things for me to watch, but they need to find a way to do that every game, for sixty minutes. Once that is consistent on a game by game basis, the fans will fill the seats. Once the threat of 4-8 goal losses has been removed, the fans WILL fill the seats. If they do not show passion, they will likely not get any from their fans.

Carry the Flag!

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