The most sought after thing in life would be love. People need to love and be loved. When someone hates us, it’s usually not a pleasant experience. It hardly ever ends good. And when hate boils over, it makes our life harder. Unless, that is, you’re a professional sports team.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been historically, well, bad. I really hate to say it, but it’s so. Year in and year out other teams have trampled over them. No coach took them very seriously, seeing it more as a day off for their starting goaltenders when they played Columbus. What I’m saying-nobody hates the Jackets.
Great rivalries begin with hatred. A team beats you. They make you mad. Then you beat them. You knock around their best guy. They smack you in the mouth, you smack them back. These teams always tend to find each other in the post season, and they almost never disappoint. The Blue Jackets have yet to taste that blood, that passion.
Because of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, Columbus fans have always looked to Detroit as our rival. But in a rivalry, both sides need to hate each other. And I don’t think the Wings think too much of the Jackets. No, literally. I don’t think they give Columbus a second thought. Jackets fans want so badly to be hated by Detroit, but it’s just not the case.
So will it ever happen? Will other teams ever hate Columbus? Yes, but it will take time. First, you have to win. It needs to be on a consistent basis. You need to beat up on a team on a regular basis as well. And after you score a goal? Smack ‘em in the mouth. Do it again. Rivalries aren’t just about the game, but about the cities, the fans themselves.
Nobody hates Columbus because we’ve never done anything to be hated for. In 2009 when The Blue Jackets faced the Red Wings in the playoffs, Columbus had their first chance to establish the rivalry. But a few days later and a 4-0 sweep by Detroit, that chance fizzled.
As the Jackets move to the east,we have a chance to finally ground a real rivalry. I always hold out for the Jackets-Wings clash, but since we’re now in different divisions, it could be a little harder. So let’s look to the future. Who wants to hate us? Any takers?
Let’s take a look at some new possibilities: Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers. There are others, of course, but these are the teams that stick out to me.
The Philadelphia Flyers:Often times, rivalries began when teams are in close proximity to each other. The Flyers are just a short few hours away and since Columbus moved to the east, they will meet up a lot more. Perhaps since they last beat the hell out of us (9-2), the next match up will spark up a little grudge for the Jackets. Not to mention, Steve Mason now plays for them. What better way to kick off a rivalry than to beat your former goaltender and one of the most hated men in Columbus. (I can’t be the only one.)
The Pittsburgh Penguins: Using the same “geography rivalry” argument, the Pens would fit right in. Fans in Columbus hate the Pens for a few reasons. First, they’re the “go-to-team” as far as bandwagon fans are concerned. And second, who could forget the infamous “home game” for the Penguins when they visited Nationwide Arena a few years back? Do I really have to talk about it? Ugh. Columbus surely hates Pittsburgh. The question is-will they hate us back?
The New York Rangers: Besides Detroit, there is no other team in the NHL that I want to be rivals with more than New York. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the Rick Nash trade. One feature that is often overlooked in that situation is the fact that (soon to be) Captain Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Marian Gaborik would do anything to beat their former teams. The Rangers and the Blue Jackets have nearly roster-swapped and I really think that alone is the prefect ingredient for a good rivalry.
But there’s one factor that I believe plays a large role in the possibility of a New York-Columbus rivalry. It’s all about perception. Columbus fans know what other teams, other cities think about their team, their city. We know how New York looks at us. We want the snooty NYC fans to look down on us, and for us to smack them in the face. “Columbus beat us? Columbus?”
Aside from the travel, the possibility of establishing a rivalry is what got me most excited about moving to the east. We’re ready to be relevant. We’re ready to win. We’re ready to be hated.