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Finishing the season on the road? May not be so bad

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As long as it puts Columbus in the playoffs!

Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It seems the Columbus Blue Jackets 2019-2020 season won’t quite be declared dead. Apparently, it is only mostly dead and I’m not really qualified to decide whether a miracle will happen or not. Recent rumors and soundbites have the NHL considering various venues in which to play out the rest of the season and possibly the playoffs. It seems likely that if any hockey will be played, it will effectively all be on the road.

As a Day 1 fan who has also been out of Ohio for most of the CBJ’s existence, road games are usually the only way for me to catch the Jackets live. I’ve watched the team in Philadelphia several times, Long Island to experience the dungeon that is Nassau Coliseum, and most recently – and most often – against the Washington Capitals.

Being a road fan for the Blue Jackets has seen an interesting evolution over time. A decade ago, going to a CBJ road game was a study in solitude. I’d rarely see anyone with Jackets gear. I rarely wore any myself. It was tough to know what to expect and I’ve never been one to cheer along on my own. It’s hard to win road games in the NHL, so you go expecting a bad ending for your team already. Pulling out a point is a good result. And, more often than not, the endings were of the painful variety. I saw the CBJ give up a 3- or 4-goal 3rd period lead one time in Philly, which was fun.

Recent years have seen a change. CBJ gear is more common. And not just the usual suspects, but random players that I can’t imagine the team meant to sell. Still, lots of Folignos, Atkinsons, and Joneses will be in the stands. So will Umbergers, Bobrovskys, and Nashes (61). Lots of beanies, lots of blank sweaters with ugly green wasps, and the occasional scarf. Even I break out the gear I have when I go to Capital One Arena.

And why not? Now, the CBJ have more respectability. Maybe not to the national hockey media. Maybe not to Tampa Bay Coach Jon Cooper – but certainly from CBJ fans. I don’t get surprised if the CBJ score first. I’m not surprised if they control play. I admit that when a home team fan is getting upset, I sometimes want to shout, “I drink your milkshake!”. Perhaps I’ll get to that level when the CBJ get back to the 2nd round. The Jackets are now a ‘tough out’ more often than not.

So. The topic at hand.

If the season is going to continue in arenas outside of Columbus, I’d prefer it’d be at a rink where the CBJ have had the most success. For you young’uns out there — that third column is for Ties.

Where has that been?

Here’s a list of locations and records:

Little Caesars Arena – Detroit, MI – 4-0-0-0

Prudential Center – Newark, NJ – 10-4-0-2

Madison Square Garden – New York, NY – 9-5-1-3

BB&T Center – Sunrise, FL – 9-6-0-1

Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, ON – 9-6-1-0

KeyBank Center – Buffalo, NY – 10-7-0-2

I’d be perfectly comfortable if the CBJ play out their season in one of those arenas. They clearly aren’t venues that make the boys in Union Blue nervous. And it’s absolutely delicious to do so well in Detroit.

But.. uh.. Let’s avoid these locations, ok, Bettman?

Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN – 9-29-1-6

SAP Center – San Jose, CA – 7-20-0-2

Rexall Place – Edmonton, AB – 6-18-0-2

I’m finished.