Let me start out by saying that I'm American. I'm not one of those who acts like every other country is crap and that the American way is the only way. Nonetheless, I am an American and I am proud of it. I have lived in Columbus, Ohio for my entire life. The city is very much a part of me, and I love it dearly (no matter how obsessed it is about Ohio State Football). I would be completely happy to spend the rest of my life living in Columbus, Ohio.
I saw hockey games when I was younger when we had an ECHL team here. I didn't get into hockey, however, until my freshman year of high school, 2000. This was the year that the Blue Jackets had their inaugural season, and I went to my first NHL game. I fell head over heels for the game of hockey on that day. I love everything about the sport, and in many ways, my passion for the game has changed my life (to mention a few, it is the reason I met my fiance, it is how I grew close to my father, and I even decided my career path because of the game).
Like I said, though, Columbus is a city that LOVES its Ohio State football. Some call Columbus an overgrown college town; It's a place where 105,000 of your closest friends will cheer on the Scarlet and Grey, rain or shine, on any given Saturday in Autumn together. NHL hockey will always play second fiddle to the Buckeyes in this town, as much as that perturbs me. But that doesn't mean that there aren't people who love the Blue Jackets, and who aren't crazy about the sport, like I am.
What inspired me to write this blog was something I saw on television on a quiet Friday night at my fiance's home in western Canada. I was sitting on the couch, watching Sportsnet with my fiance and his dad, catching the highlights from last night's games. Then on comes a piece about Alex Ovechkin and how he will be a restricted free agent after this season. The lady reporter says at one point "Wouldn't it be great to see Ovechkin in a Canadian team's jersey, in a city where hockey really matters?"
THIS is what set me off. Immediately, I felt like I was personally offended and attacked. My mind immediately went to the day when the broadcasters on Canadian highlight shows will be saying the same thing about Rick Nash. "Wouldn't it be nice to see Rick Nash in a Maple Leafs sweater? It's not like anyone in Columbus likes hockey anyway..." I immediately got upset and soon left the room because I was so frustrated.
A city where hockey really matters? What exactly does that entail? I know that I'm just a "stupid Yankee" because I can't rattle off who has won the Stanley for the last twenty-plus years, but that doesn't mean that I don't love the sport just as much as you do. I'm sorry that I didn't pop out of my mother's uterus with a pair of skates on my feet and play hockey at the age of three. That just wasn't in the cards for me. But despite the fact that I was born in the States and I was born in a city that worships football doesn't mean that I, along with all of the other die-hard Blue Jackets fans, do not deserve to have a quality all-star performer on our team. Just because the Jackets haven't made the playoffs YET doesn't mean that Columbus doesn't deserve to have any great players who can break records and lift their team up when they need it most.
If ANYTHING, the weaker market teams should more of the better players to attract more people. God knows that Canadians would still go watch the hockey no matter how terrible it is; To prove my point, look at the local Junior A BCHL team that my fiance and his family (along with 1,000 other Canadian citizens) spend $12 a game to go see for 29 home games.
Maybe the Canadians are just upset that the Cup hasn't been won by a Canadian team in nearly 15 years? I don't know, I'm just throwing out ideas.