Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
I was asked to come up with my most hated team in the NHL. The easy answer would have been the Detroit Red Wings. I'm generally not a fan of anything from the state of Michigan. But when coming up with reasons why, I couldn't think of much beyond that.
Because they have a storied history? Maybe the Blue Jackets can make some history and that point will be moot over the next few decades. Because they're consistently good? They've been bad, too. Again, only time will tell if that continues to be the case and the Blue Jackets never reach that level.
So the more I thought about it, I just didn't really have much else to justify it other than, well, they're the Red Wings.
That led me to my real answer: the Nashville Predators.
Let me start by saying that I've attended a game in Nashville and the fans were incredible. I had a blast in the city of Nashville. You'll see that by "hate" I really mean "jealous" in most cases. Except Jordin Tootoo.
Why the Predators are my most hated team...
They've been around just a bit longer than the Blue Jackets, joining the league in the 1998 season. They stunk for the first few years, but eventually made the playoffs in just their sixth season in the league. It took the Jackets nine seasons to secure their first playoff berth.
But that's not the worst of it. After the lockout, in their seventh season after expansion, the Predators finished with 106 points. They topped that the next season with 110 points. They bred the likes of Tomas Vokoun and Pekka Rinne. In some ways Mark Dekanich should be added to that list. Not because he had any success against the Jackets (he has yet to play a full NHL game), but because he's the perfect example of the Blue Jackets and Scott Howson's failed 2011-12 season.
All the while, Columbus couldn't win a single game in Nashville. I'd give you an exact number, but looking it up hurts too much.
They've continued to have success, and although it took them awhile to win their first playoff series, they got better every year. Barry Trotz has been the coach for the entire time they've been in the NHL. Meanwhile, the Jackets are counting on the 8th different person to sit behind the bench to be the answer.
In short: the Predators are everything Columbus is not. They haven't won a Cup, but they're headed in the right direction. Even after losing Ryan Suter to free agency, they still have an identity, they still have a world class coach, and they're still committed to building a winner for their passionate fanbase. There's almost no reason to think the Jackets will be catching up anytime soon.