Everyone who has played an organized sport at any level has lost a game.
Chances are, you've gotten beaten pretty badly, too. My middle school football team lost a game once 42-0. Guess who played nose tackle?
Our coach put us through one of the worst practices I can ever remember enduring that following Saturday, working us until more than a few players had to go and throw up.
Afterwards, in a dead silent locker room, he gave us a little speech.
"This wasn't the hard part. The hard part is that now I'm going to ask each one of you to get out of your pads, get cleaned up, and go home. You have to go do your homework, you have to go do whatever else you need to do. Then you're gonna come back and practice for the rest of this week, and when we play on Friday night, you have to forget what happened last week, and play your asses off, or I guarantee you it will be worse. Not because of anything I'll do, but because of what you will do to yourselves."
He was right. It was hard, especially since, middle school being middle school, nobody heard the end of it.
Me, personally? I didn't forget a damn thing. But I can assure you that when I had to make a hit, when I had to jump off the line and smash a guy, when I saw a hole and tried to go through it to go after the quarterback or the ball carrier? I pushed harder than I did the week before. I put a little extra into each hit. I wanted to knock the guy in front of me onto his ass every time I lined up in front of him.
Because I didn't want to go through a Friday night, Saturday practice, or long, painful week like that again, and neither did anyone else. I don't honestly remember what the final score was, but I remember that we won - because we wouldn't let ourselves lose like that again.
We can only hope that the Blue Jackets have the same kind of heart and desire as a middle school football team tonight. They have a chance for at least a partial redemption with a win, and perhaps a chance to put a few wins on to the board before they go even the score with Blackhawks in one week at the United Center.
For all the frustrations with last night's game, we do have Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger both going into this game with multi-point scoring streaks. Here's hoping they can keep them alive.
The puck drops at 8:00pm - go check out Hockey Wilderness for their coverage from the other side of the tracks, and otherwise we'll see all of you here as the Jackets take on the Wild from the Xcel Energy Center!
Who Steps Up Tonight?
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