Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson on his blog dated Oct. 7, 2011:
When I think about our team on Opening Night 2011 another word comes to mind — OPTIMISM. I believe in our players, our coaches, our staff and our fans. I am optimistic this can be a special year for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson on his blog dated Oct. 25, 2011:
The first three weeks have been extremely difficult for all of us. The responsibility for where we are lies with me, our management staff, coaches and players. It does not lie with Brendan Shanahan or the NHL or the officials. It is not about luck. The responsibility for getting us out of it lies also with us... all of us doing it together.
So we've gone from OPTIMISM to optimism for the Blue Jackets, now with the pungent odor of desperation. Columbus enters its home game against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night with an 0-7-1 record, having previously lost at Detroit 5-2. The Wings are coming off a 7-1 loss in Washington. They'll be in no mood for charity.
Defenseman James Wisniewski will play his first regular-season game for Columbus after serving his eight-game suspension for targeting the head of Cal Clutterbuck after the period had ended. "Sometimes a new body coming into the locker room creates a different kind of energy," Howson told Craig Custance of ESPN. This is especially true when this new body can play the point on the power play and you're 4 for 38 on it through eight games.
His return offers some hope, and a chance to change the conversation about this team, if even for a moment. If also offered a chance for Howson to rally the troops on his blog Tuesday:
I am an admirer of Bill Walsh and in his book "The Score Takes Care of Itself" he emphasizes that after any setback you have to tell yourself, "I am going to stand and fight again." We can't change the first eight games, but we will stand and fight starting tonight. We will focus on being the best we can be today and then being better tomorrow.
Ninety percent of our season remains and that is more than enough time to reach the goals we set for ourselves. We are bent, but not broken, and very determined to get back on track.
Let's say the Blue Jackets find catharsis against one of the best teams in hockey Tuesday night and defeat the Red Wings to move to 1-7-1. That would give them three points in nine games; 73 games would remain in the season. Since the lockout, it's taken an average of 94.2 points to earn the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
The Blue Jackets would need around 92 points in 73 games to hit that number (give or take a point); in other words, a record of 46-27 for a .630 winning percentage. That's without factoring in any overtime losses — Columbus had 13 of them last season.
And that's a hell of a hill to climb.
The image at the top of this post is from a Jackets fan named Garrick who emailed us. He's probably not the first fan that's considered giving himself the Cody Rhodes treatment as the season slips away.
Howson wrote: "Our fans have been remarkably patient with our franchise." That they have; it's past time it was rewarded.