By Rick Gethin
The Hockey Writers
“Through pee-wee’s and juniors, midgets and mites
He must have racked up more than six hundred fights…”
Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song), Warren Zevon
With 40,410 miles to go to make the return trip to the playoffs, the Columbus Blue Jackets are gearing up for what could be their most successful season to date. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but hope springs eternal.
The NHL released the 2009-2010 schedule on Wednesday, and it would seem that it’s much more favorable to the Blue Jackets this year over last. Recall if you will, that the club had 20 back to back games last season; the most of any team in the league. This year they only have to play 12. Only Ottawa and Edmonton have fewer, with 11 back to backs each.
The club opens the ’09-’10 season at home against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night, October 3rd. They close out the regular season on Friday, April 9th against the Detroit Red Wings; also in the cozy confines of Nationwide Arena. In between those two dates promises to be a season filled with euphoria and heartache.
The season schedule is front loaded with road trips for the boys in Union Blue. After the home opener, Columbus plays nine of their next 14 games on the road. Contrast that with the end of the season; 13 of their final 19 games will be played at home. The scheduling department in the League offices seemed to have cast a kinder eye on the Blue Jackets after making their first playoff appearance last season.
The longest road trip of the season comes early with a five game swing in November against Dallas, Nashville, NY Rangers, Montreal and Ottawa. Five games in eight days with a back to back thrown in for good measure (Rangers and Canadiens) should keep the hometown fans on the edge of their seats, even at home.
The only scheduling conflicts with (cough) The Ohio State Buckeyes are three away games for the football team. Now, I’m not bashing the ‘Bucs, but it’s only college football. I’ll probably be run out of town on a rail for that comment. I have nothing against football fans, but I grew up with hockey; so it’s only natural that I would choose hockey over a football game. Besides, for all of you cash strapped fans, it’s actually much less expensive going to a Blue Jackets game than an OSU football game. According to our elected officials in Washington, these are tough financial and economic times we live in; so that seems to be a no-brainer to me. But what do I know? I’m just a puck-head.
The Blue Jackets have the unique distinction of being the only team to host a game on Friday the 13th. That game comes in November when the Anaheim Ducks enter with trepidation the “House that McConnell built”. With “Matt the Mask” (aka Jason) sure to be in attendance, I look for the arena to be renamed “Jasonwide” for the evening. John (Light The Lamp, an excellent Blue Jackets blog) has a great breakdown of the whole schedule here.
Is it time for training camp yet?
Tags: Light The Lamp