Union and Blue’s co-editor Lindsay Wilson recently wrote an article discussing the various Columbus Blue Jackets injuries. There are certainly a lot. And while there’s no question that it’s had a substantial impact on the Jackets, should they use those injuries as an excuse if they don’t succeed?
Admittedly, now is a strange time to ask such a question. As another Union and Blue writer, Rob Brumfield said in his article, the Jackets are finding success in spite of piling injuries. But what if they go on a skid? What if a couple losses piles up to a 5 game losing streak?
It’s so easy to look to injuries as a scape goat. And that’s rightfully so, I suppose. I mean, if you signed players Tom, Bob, and Billy to achieve your goal, and two of them gets hurt, you can blame the injuries. Your game plan isn’t to blame because you never got to enact your game plan on account of the injuries. How do we know if Tom, Bob, and Billy is to fault? They never got to play.
But that’s sports injury 101, the basics. Here at Union and Blue, we like to take a deeper look at “surface stories.” A team loses a couple of good players to injury. They don’t win. It’s the injuries fault. Sounds about right, huh? Wrong. It’s a cop out.
There are three reasons. First, if you don’t have a back up plan, then you’re destined for failure. You may have signed the stars but if you neglected to sign role players then it’s your own fault. Injuries are going to happen, and if you’re not prepared, then you can’t blame the injuries.
Second, you have to have a good enough minor league system that when you do have to call them up, it’s not “oh god we have the AHL guys playing up.” I understand you have a minor league system to develop players, and you don’t want an undeveloped player to be rushed into the NHL. But if they do have to play in the NHL for a few games, it should be excitement, not a sense of panic.
Lastly, it’s an excuse. Point. Blank. Period. Even good excuses are just that, an excuse. At the end of the day, it’s about getting it done. I’ll let you in on a little secret. (Other teams go through injuries, too.) Yep. Even the teams who win the Stanley Cup.
On more than one occasion, the Stanley Cup winning teams had to battle through their best players being sidelined with injury bug bites. And they managed. They didn’t look to it as an excuse. They were confident enough in the players surrounding them, and the players in their minor league systems, to win, despite.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have played better of late, despite their injuries. But if they start to slide, if for some reason or another, they lose a couple in a row and slide in the standings, I refuse to blame the injuries.
I’ll admit it’s a factor. But once you blame an outside factor, once you use injuries as an excuse, it becomes the reason. And that’s dangerous because there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t stop injuries. Good teams blame effort for losses because they can fix that. Mediocre teams blame injuries so they don’t have to be held accountable.