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Bravo presents: The Real Hockey Players of Columbus

I friggin’ hate reality television

Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Tweets are generally known for their brevity, yet reading this left me feeling exhausted:

and there was still a lot that Hedger left off! We’ve also seen:

  • The top four defensemen turn into pumpkins;
  • All of Alexandre Texier, Max Domi, Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner, Riley Nash, and Kevin Stenlund bounce back and forth between wing and center;
  • The big off-season acquisition, Domi, get off to a quiet start with just five points in the first 14 games;
  • Elvis Merzlikins get hurt in practice and placed on the IR, then the third stringer (Matiss Kivlenieks) get hurt in practice as well;
  • Meanwhile the one of the top four defensemen that was starting to play better (Zach Werenski) join them on the IR;
  • The NHL botch an offsides challenge review, acknowledge the mistake during the game, rescind the last 45 seconds of a penalty, but leave the goal on the board in a game that was decided by that one goal;
  • Despite all the struggles, the Blue Jackets never lose more than two in a row, nor win more than two in a row;
  • Most recently, a reporter from Hedger that the reason for Laine’s benching was that he had words with an assistant coach:

Side note: I sincerely hope it was Brad Larsen.

In 2020, we learned why the expression “may you live in interesting times” is a curse, not a blessing. Some of you may have wished for the Blue Jackets to be a more interesting team this year. Not like this.

I hate it. I hate drama. I just want everyone to get along. I like to see people working together to achieve a goal. I recently watched and enjoyed Disney/Pixar’s Soul, which doesn’t have an antagonist, per se. Just characters thrown into unfortunate circumstances and working together to solve a problem.

Every season has its ebbs and flows and its ups and downs. I’m prepared to handle that if it’s a matter of set lines and pairings facing off each game against a different opponent. There are good nights and bad nights, but it’s all settled out on the ice. Maybe someone gets hurt, but the team adjusts and moves forward.

This season is different because there’s too much happening between every game. First, it was the cloud hanging over the locker room as a result of Pierre-Luc Dubois’ trade demand. It seemed to lift, temporarily, in the hours after his trade. The catharsis of that Tampa win was short-lived, however, with the team hitting another rough patch as new arrivals Mikko Koivu and Jack Roslovic were inserted into the lineup, and then Patrik Laine.

Now we have no idea what the forward lines will look like each game. It’s rare that the opening lines survive the full 60 minutes before they’re shuffled again. Everyone looks like they don’t know they’re role, and that makes sense since their role changes every game.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Nashville Predators Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

John Tortorella clearly loves drama, even if he would deny it if asked. It seems to follow him wherever he goes. He has often talked about conflict being a good thing, because it allows a problem to be raised and addressed, so everyone can move forward. This season, however, it seems like each conflict just feeds another conflict: Dubois makes a trade request and it upsets Torts. Torts changes the way he treats Dubois. Dubois mopes in a game. Torts benches Dubois. Dubois gets traded. Torts tries to get the struggling players going by shuffling the lines, but the line-shuffling keeps anyone from developing chemistry and comfort together.

I avoid reality television like the plague, but I gather from the various memes and parodies that there’s always at least one character on these shows that always brings out the worst in everyone else. The producers love this, because it generates content. Torts is that figure here, with the hockey media playing the part of TV producers. He keeps getting the attention he says he doesn’t want, and it sucks up all the oxygen. It leaves nothing for the actual hockey.

We’ve had so much chaos and change over the first month of the season, so I crave a little bit of stasis. Take the 12 best forwards, and make four lines that make sense (i.e. the centers and center and the wings at wing, and keep them there). Let them play together for a couple of weeks, at least. Allocate ice time on true merit, rather than giving 18 minutes to a player with a sub-30 CF%.

Let me be able to treat off days as true off days, with no new developments on the team to worry about. Let me enjoy the games for what they are, without worrying about what bomb our maniac coach will throw next, or without speculating about which players may or may not be on the roster next season. Just let me catch my breath.

I don’t hestitate to turn off a TV show I no longer find enjoyable. Unfortunately I’m too invested in the Blue Jackets to treat them the same way.