For 19 years, Columbus Blue Jackets fans have waited for this moment. The Jackets have swept the NHL Presidents Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1st round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
I can remember 10 years ago, as a 12-year-old, crying myself to sleep when the Jackets got swept by the Red Wings in the first round. 10 years later, it was all worth it in the end.
A short four weeks ago, this team was in cold water and left to drown after losing to the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 with just about two weeks to go in the regular season. The Jackets sat outside of a playoff spot, and it looked like this team was destined to break apart and let Montreal take the last wildcard spot.
The magic started in Vancouver, as the Jackets would go on to win 7 of their last 8 games of the regular season, setting themselves up for a matchup against the NHL’s best.
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20 minutes in, and it looked like this would all unravel for Columbus fans quick, as the Jackets were down 3-0 after the first period in Tampa Bay. But sure enough, there was no quit.
After a miraculous comeback in game 1, domination in game 2, and holding on for dear life in game 3, game 4 was set up to be everything the Jackets faithful had dreamed about for 19 years.
I’m not going to lie, I showed my emotions last night sitting in the upper deck of Nationwide Arena. My dad and I had been original season ticket holders, supporting this team through thick and thin, through good times and bad, my entire life I dreamed of this day.
After years of heartbreak, and coming up short a multitude of times, last night was better than I could have ever imagined.
Names like Geoff Sanderson, David Vyborny, Rusty Klesla, Rick Nash, Marc Denis, Vinny Prospal, and all those who came before this team flood back as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Columbus last night. The emotional toll of 19 years that haunted this franchise was released with the final blast of the cannon.
We weren’t supposed to be here.
We were supposed to be on the other side.
They never gave us a shot.
Down, but not out, they gave us the toughest road.
Nobody could’ve predicted this.
It truly is Ohio against the world.