With 41 games played, the Columbus Blue Jackets are officially halfway through the season. Their record is 12-27-2, with 26 points being tied with Chicago for worst in the league. The Blackhawks have played one fewer game as of this writing, so by points percentage the Blue Jackets are dead last. Worst team in the league. Oof.
There’s not much hope in the near future, either. 24 of the remaining games are on the road, where so far the Jackets have earned just five points in 17 games (2-14-1). Some players will come back from injury, including Boone Jenner and Yegor Chinakhov, but others are out for the rest of the season: Zach Werenski, Jake Bean, Justin Danforth, and Jake Voracek.
It’s not like the losses are interesting, either, with the Jackets not scoring well, nor preventing goals against. 17 of the 27 losses were by a margin of at least 3 goals.
So, as Jackets fans, how are you approaching the rest of the season?
Are you rooting for losing?
This feels like a big dividing line in the fanbase. Some seem to be taking the 2015 Buffalo approach of celebrating losses, or wins by Chicago and Anaheim. Each one gets us one step closer to Connor Bedard! If you’re going to be bad, might as well go all-in on that, right? (Also, could make some money betting against them, if that’s your thing. It’s not for me, but just saying...)
I must confess I took that approach with the Cleveland Browns in 2017. After they won just a single game in 2016, I was content with them going winless once it was clear they were not at all improved. Winning one or two games is just bad. Winning no games at all is historic!
I can’t quite get there with the Jackets, however. I accept that they will lose many more times this season, but I want them to be more competitive than they have been. The future of the roster is here now, and a losing attitude can infest the organization for years. Do good things over these remaining games, and you can build on that as you take a step forward next season and thereafter.
I’m also not getting my hopes up for the draft lottery. Not yet. Even with the worst record, it’s more likely than not that we would fall to #2 or #3. Luckily there are still great players to be had anywhere in the top 5, who could be the franchise center we need.
Are you going to games?
Attendance numbers have been better than I would have expected, but you are starting to see more empty seats. You can also tell on TV (and has been confirmed by those in attendance recently) that the crowd is quiet and lacks energy. I can’t blame them; what is there to be excited about at the moment?
My last game was against Detroit in early December. I had tickets to the Kings game a week later but I couldn’t justify going to two games within a week, so I gave those away. From here, I have about one game a month down the stretch. I’m not really eager about seeing the Jackets play, but it’s a good excuse to go out with friends. I’ve paid for the tickets so I might as well use them. The resale market has bottomed out, so it’s not like I can get much back there, even for lower bowl seats.
Are you watching the games?
I usually watch all but a handful of games every season. Part of this is my role covering the team for this site, yes, but normally it’s a part of my routine that I enjoy. What else am I going to do on a weeknight? I get home, walk the dog, then sit down to eat dinner while watching the Jackets.
Even when they were good, if a plan came up with friends or family, I would do that and not see the Jackets. This year, I’m probably more likely to make those plans. I’m also more likely to turn off games that are going poorly. Why stress myself out more? Last season the team had a knack for coming from behind, so it was worth keeping the game on. This team feels more quitty.
Are you still watching? If so, how much?
If not, what are you watching? Here are some streaming series from last year which I enjoyed:
The Bear (Hulu)
Reservation Dogs (Hulu)
Severance (Apple TV+)
The English (Amazon Prime Video)
Or are there other sports that have your attention? After the Jackets game last night, I watched the Cleveland Cavaliers play. They have a lot of exciting young talent and are playing really well, and are improved even over last season’s surprise team. Donovan Mitchell was a great addition.