(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!)
Written by Jacob Billiar et al. of Healthy Scratches
Most Disappointing Team: 2011-2012 Columbus Blue Jackets
The forecast for the 2011-12 season was sunny, but our return trip to the playoffs would be delayed and rescheduled before we even left home. The clouds were parting and Rick Nash’s first line center was finally delivered on a golden platter just like the Gold medal they shared.
It took a vow of silence and Nash’s sales pitch for Carter to reluctantly go through the motions in Columbus for the next 10 years or the trade deadline, whichever came first. Losing that first line center wasn’t all that painful because that’s how it’d always been. But scorning Columbus as a city was unacceptable and an even bigger blow came when our one and only, Rick Nash, wanted out. The whole season was a prolonged train-wreck as it became clear we were a lot further away from anything than we had thought.
So we tanked. We limped to a last place finish, the first in club history, and it seemed we finally succeeded at losing. We were pulling a Pittsburgh and gunning for the top spot. It was ours: the charismatic, elite Russian goal scorer already playing in Canada. We said goodbye to Nash and thought we were getting an Ovechkin. Not so fast. We even failed at losing.
Dumping salt in the wound was Scott How-is-he-still-GM-son, declaring even if we had the first pick we weren’t taking Yakupov. Hindsight may have vindicated him, but at the time there was no greater disappointment than listening to the fledgling GM act like we didn’t even want the top pick.
Dishonorable Mention: 2009-2010
Most Disappointing Blue Jacket: Nikita Filatov
Drafting Filatov was like going on a much-anticipated weekend getaway. Somewhere you’d been before that could’ve been the best weekend ever, but turned into an awful time through no fault of your own – bad weather, crummy hotels, etc.
But the potential was so tantalizing you decided to go back. Armed with a little experience and a plan, this time things would be different.
Flashy, exotic, dangerous, the Jackets returned to that region known as Eastern Europe. Ukraine had given us Nikolai Zherdev, dangling glimpses of brilliance but hundreds of headaches. Filatov supposedly knew English, wanted to be in the US, and was the consensus #1 European skater available with the sixth pick.
We thought we had wised up and outgrew the rookie mistakes of an expansion-franchise. We were made our mistakes on our own and thought we had learned from them. The buildup was monumental and the hype was palpable. When he was finally called up from Syracuse, he burst into Columbus with a flashy rookie hat trick, the first in CBJ history. But the weekend was over and the same struggles with Zherdev once again reared their head. As he flamed out, we were home with our tails between our legs for good. It was a relief to finally part ways with Filatov and even felt like we’d somehow won by exchanging the 2008 sixth overall pick for a third round pick just three years later. Filatov epitomized the failures of the organization.
Dishonerable Mention: Adam Foote and Jeff Carter
Most Disappointing Moment in Blue Jackets History: The Rick Nash Trade
The years of Rick Nash were like getting sunburnt on a cloudy day. Our only ray of sunshine on a team of rain clouds, we basked in his sporadic bursts of light whenever they broke through. We sat outside too long, staring at the sky waiting for the clouds to part. But at the end of the day, the sun had set behind the clouds without us even noticing. It was a wasted day with no real joy from the sun. And when we finally retreated and the sun had set, we went inside and discovered a sunburn in the mirror.
Of course we didn’t apply sunscreen, why would we? Nash was our sun, our rock, the guy who always wanted to be there. But it was too late and we didn’t even realize it. But joy wouldn’t feel so good if it weren’t for the pain.
In the end, maybe Columbus always knew it would be better off winning by committee than relying on one bashful star.
Dishonorable Mention: The uproar over the too-many-men call that supposedly ended our first playoff run. Drunk off our first trip to the dance, we made the referees a scapegoat for robbing us of a few extra minutes before defeat. Focusing on the blown call and not, you know the other 99% of the series where we were skillfully (expected) and physically (unexpected) demoralized by Pavel Datsyuk.
Most Disappointing Blue Jackets Transaction: Any Deal with LA
While the Blue Jackets have had their share of regrettable moves (Beauchemin-Fedorov deal [with Ducks], Carter trade), they’ve never really had a whopper of a horrible, what were they thinking move. The Nash debacle, excruciatingly drawn out and painful almost every day he wasn’t traded, ultimately gave birth to a new era.
Playful twitter trolling aside, our most disappointing transaction seems to be any deal we make with LA.
The Carter trade at least got us Jack Johnson and some picks, salvaging a sour situation. It was against our Midwestern morals to see his temper tantrum reward him with a reunion with his best friend, a Stanley Cup, and then another Stanley Cup.
The move that hurts a little more is trading Gaborik to LA. Gabby actually liked Columbus and wanted to stay, only he was a pending-UFA and injured most of the season. Despite clinging to a playoff position with already minimal scoring, he felt like an orange on a team full of apples so we dealt him for whatever we could get, which wasn’t much. Matt Frattin barely played and turned into Jerry D’amigo.
Columbus fans were conflicted about watching Gabby tie Gretzky’s scoring record, hoist the cup with a shoulder that didn’t work in Ohio, and then sign an extremely friendly long term deal at a hometown discount to stay in LA.
Dishonorable Mention: Trading down in the 2004 draft to take Alexandre Picard.
Most Disappointing Blue Jackets Coach/Executive: Scott Arniel
When Scott Arniel strolled into town, he was already second choice to another AHL coach who didn’t want to come to Columbus, Guy Boucher. Scorned, we thought humble Scott might be a fit in Columbus. However, Tropical Storm Scott quickly morphed into a hurricane and sent us retreating to the basement.
His tenure in Columbus wasn’t so objectionable because of the losing (we’d had plenty of that), but rather the way he poisoned the atmosphere in ways that former coaches and interims like Gallant, Agnew, and Noel didn’t. There was the blowup with Mike Commodore, the scapegoat treatment of Derick Brassard, and his final press conference.
Perhaps even some of Ryan Johansen’s early struggles fall on Arnel. Some marks for trying to shake things up with bagskates and benchings, however they were misplaced and ill-fated attempts at saving a sinking ship and his own job. Even when other Blue Jackets coaches realized their time was short, it seemed they still cared about Columbus more than just their own neck.
Dishonorable Mention: Scott Howson and Doug MacLean
Most Disappointing Blue Jackets Fashion Choice: Boomer
Ah. We finally get to Boomer, one of the biggest phalluses, I mean fallacies in the history of The Columbus Blue Jackets. Boomer was to be debuted in November of 2010 to an elated fan base awaiting a sidekick to their already beloved Stinger. However, that elation was premature and Boomer debuted to mixed reviews. Boomer fell flat, but the Jackets stood firm next to him stating he was here to stay.
As quickly as he came, he left forever inserted into the annals of CBJ lore. One has to ask what kind of market testing or oversight was used during this process; but nonetheless the Boomer is the most disappointing fashion choice in the history of the franchise.
A Boomer statue will forever be erected in my heart to remember this ill-fated member. Carry that Flag, Boomer, March On.
Dishonorable Mention: While we do love the third jersey, it feels a little too much like the shirt that everyone buys on vacation. Sure, that tank top with neon block letters screaming “DAYTONA BEACH” is fun while you’re there…until you realize everyone else at the beach has the same one. Despite the classic look and good design, it just felt redundant alongside Pittsburgh, Florida, et al. While playing it safe usually suits Columbus, a little personality would have taken it from good to great.
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Other disappointments (in order of appearance): New York Rangers • Calgary Flames • St. Louis Blues • New York Islanders • Dallas Stars • Boston Bruins • Colorado Avalanche • Washington Capitals • Ottawa Senators • Arizona Coyotes • Minnesota Wild • Edmonton Oilers • San Jose Sharks • Winnipeg Jets • New Jersey Devils • Los Angeles Kings • Florida Panthers • Carolina Hurricanes • Buffalo Sabres • Montreal Canadiens • Tampa Bay Lightning • Chicago Blackhawks • Nashville Predators • Detroit Red Wings • Anaheim Ducks • Philadelphia Flyers • Pittsburgh Penguins • Vancouver Canucks • Toronto Maple Leafs