December 13, 2010
Last month, the Columbus Blue Jackets made waves with a new-look third jersey and got a rise out of fans by introducing Boomer, a cannon whose resemblance to male genitalia was uncanny and quickly mocked.
Well, sounds like the team might lower the boom on Boomer.
Late last month, the Blue Jackets unveiled a second mascot - Boomer, a cuddly cannon - to great laughter and embarrassment because of Boomer's unmistakably phallic shape. Fans better get their digs in quickly. Sources have told The Dispatch that Boomer's role will shrink as the season moves along, and he could be retired this summer.
Reinforcing that report was the lack of Boomer's presence at Saturday night's home game against the New York Rangers; from the looks of things, it certainly appears they're giving him the shaft.
A little more disconcerting for the Blue Jackets' bottom line than their fleeting secondary mascot:
Their stylish new third jerseys are apparently cursed and NHL players are notoriously superstitious.
Columbus was scheduled to wear the new sweaters against the Rangers this weekend, having gone 0-4 in them thus far. But Coach Scott Arniel opted for the team's traditional look instead ... and the Jackets won the game, 3-1. From the Dispatch and writer Tom Reed:
"You know what," [Arniel] said unable to suppress a grin. "I just thought our red pants against their red pants would really look cool."
Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact the Jackets had been outscored 18-5 in their cannon-clad, navy-blue duds. "Did it fall on me?" Arniel said. "I think there are a few fans around the city" that were thinking the same thing.
Jackets players tried keeping a straight face as media members asked them who made the decision. Equipment manager Tim LeRoy deadpanned: "It's my fault, I forgot to put (the third jerseys) out."
Funny stuff. Not so funny? Trying to sell jerseys to fans that the team considers hexed and that they won't actually wear during games. Columbus was supposed to rock the alt-sweaters 15 times this season; a look at upcoming promotions at Nationwide Arena finds no mention of them being worn. One assumes they'll be back; but no one's sure when.
After the game, both the players and coaches were coy in addressing questions about the move. Nobody would say who made the decision, but they weren't apologizing for it.
On Friday, during an interview, Kyle Wilson(notes) was asked about the jerseys and whether it was a hot topic in the locker room. "Oh yeah," he replied. "What are we, like 0 and 4 in them? There are a lot of very superstitious people in this locker room. Very superstitious," he explained. When asked what the guys thought should be done to break the jinx, Wilson deadpanned, "Burn 'em." He then said he was joking and that things would take care of themselves once they went out and won a bunch of games in them. That must have been Plan B. It looks like they went with Plan A.
Consider this an evolving situation.
The blog makes an excellent point as well: All of this is a burgeoning disaster for a marketing team in a market where drawing fans has been challenging to say the least. From Greg May at Full Mental:
But if there has ever been a time that the Blue Jackets need to put their best foot forward to promote the team and do whatever it takes to draw fans to Nationwide it is now. After complaining in the off-season about their lease and the manner in which it handcuffs them when it comes to making money, the Jackets can ill afford to be firing the cannon at their own feet as they have done on numerous occasions so far this year.
Especially when that cannon looks like ... well, you know.