Blue Jackets’ Fans Already Coping With Another Awful Season

The Columbus Blue Jackets ended their three-game road trip with an afternoon affair in Boston. Despite hanging in the game until later in the third period, the result was the same as recent results. Bruins 4, Blue Jackets 2.

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The loss capped an 0-3-0 road trip that saw the Blue Jackets outscored 12-3 by the Panthers, Lightning and Bruins. Their overall record dropped to 10-18-2, which has them in sole possession of the Eastern Conference’s basement and 30th place in the NHL standings.

Sadly, Blue Jackets’ fans are used to things like this. In the team’s existence, being bad has been the norm and not the exception. Most hockey fans know that the Blue Jackets have never won a playoff series in the second round or beyond and that they’ve won just one series in franchise history, the sweep of the Lightning.

Related: Sabres’ Thompson’s Outburst Puts Blue Jackets Officially on Notice

However the dark moments go way beyond this. Let’s set the scene for you. Hope you brought something to light the room because it’s going to get very dark very fast.

Blue Jackets’ Staggering Dark Numbers

Let’s start with this one. In their entire franchise history, the Blue Jackets have never won a division title. Many fans knew this. But did you know they have also never finished second in their division either? In 21 seasons, the Blue Jackets have finished third twice (2005-06 and 2016-17) and have finished fourth or worse in the other 19 seasons. Even in the one season they broke 100 points, they finished third in the Metro and were gone in the first round of the playoffs.

Under GM Jarmo Kekalainen, excluding the 2016-17 season where they finished third in the Metro, the Blue Jackets have never finished higher than seventh in their conference. Looking back at the last five completed seasons, you will see a noticeable downward trend.

  • 2017-18: 4th Metro/7th East
  • 2018-19: 5th Metro/8th East
  • 2019-20: 6th Metro/9th East
  • 2020-21: 8th Central (shortened year with realignment)
  • 2021-22: 6th Metro/10th East

Even when they were good enough to make the playoffs, it’s been a slow and downhill descent to where they are today, dead last in the East by five points.

Brad Larsen Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are in the midst of yet another long season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This is just the beginning. Here are some other staggering numbers for the Blue Jackets. Look at these numbers and then imagine what being a fan of them must feel like. And yet, they display a level of loyalty to their team that is hard to match in the sporting world. They continue to support this team no matter what.

  • The Blue Jackets have held a top-10 offense just once in 21 seasons (2016-17 when they were sixth.)
  • The Blue Jackets have ranked 24th or worse in goals against over half the time in existence (11 of 21 seasons.)
  • The Blue Jackets power play has ranked 20th or worse in 16 of their 21 seasons, including five in a row (25th, 28th, 27th, 27th, 24th)
  • You can count on one hand the number of occurrences the Blue Jackets have been .500 or more in three straight months. The last time this happened was in 2018-19 when it happened on two separate occasions.

You get the idea. Much of the time for the Blue Jackets has been a dark experience when it comes to finding success on the ice. So here we are again. As you might expect, the fans are used to being here. They have already begun the process of coping with another lost season on West Nationwide Boulevard.

Another Season of Coping

The 2022-23 season for the Blue Jackets has been a hard one for everyone involved. While many folks expected this to be a tough season, even this start has many people surprised.

Tough injuries, veterans underperforming and a very young lineup have all contributed to this start. The outlook for the rest of the season looks much the same too. The Blue Jackets have more road games left than home games. The roster could look different as well after the trade deadline passes.

Jarmo Kekalainen Columbus Blue Jackets
Jarmo Kekäläinen has some important decisions to make upcoming. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Fans have accepted that this season is already lost. But there are still 52 games left to play out. We are not even to Christmas yet and the Blue Jackets seem to be playing out the string. They simply don’t have the manpower to make a significant run back to the playoff race. They trail the second wildcard by 14 points as of this writing.

If a start like this happened to other teams, fans would be losing their minds. While Blue Jackets’ fans are not happy with this, they are used to it. For those who have supported from the beginning, it’s basically all they know.

Coping Strategies for Fans

This week, we gave Blue Jackets’ fans a homework assignment. We had a question for them. How do you cope with the dog days of the season given the overall situation? What methods do you use?

We got a great response both on social media and through email. We will share what Blue Jackets’ fans have been doing to cope with yet another lost season. To their credit, there is a lot of positivity in these responses because many hold a belief that better days will be coming. There is a good mix of responses in here.

Here are some of the best responses we got. See if you can relate to any of these. Perhaps seeing one or two of these can help you gain a perspective you hadn’t had before. Note: Some answers were edited for the purposes of space.

The Fans Respond to Coping Methods

  • “Watch for effort. Watch for young defensemen making smart plays. Watch for who follows plays through and who is separating themselves from the pack. I get the sentiment that it’s always the same, but these young players are really fun to watch. I just stop worrying about the wins and losses.” -Michael Manley
  • “Literally spending the days with my dog.” -Pale Dragon CBus. Author’s note: This is always a good plan no matter the situation.
  • “I never expected them to make the playoffs this year, but was not ready for them to be out of it this early. Not only am I a Blue Jackets’ fan, but I’m a hockey fan in general. So the chance to see Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Pasta, etc. keeps me interested and engaged most nights.” -@rachierach30
  • “I just watch to see if I can see improvement in some of the young guys. And watching Johnny’s skill and Laine’s shot. Although not different from if they were having a winning season. I just like watching hockey period.” -Kenneth Gast
  • “Bourbon, other important life events, and knowing that there are growing pains in this revamp/build.” -@Colssportsfan Author’s note: Don’t think I didn’t see the number of alcohol responses. I saw all of them.
  • “I’m a life-long Cubs fan. If they can win the World Series, I have some faith that one day CBJ will win a Cup. Meanwhile, I just go in expecting them to lose and winning games is a pleasant surprise!” -@nerrisa91
  • “I see all games as experience. To go along with that I see this as the chance to get the true number one center the jackets have never had. That one draft pick if we can get 1-2 would fix that hole at center for many years to come.” -@jonhanf
  • “It’s so much the same thing on repeat nearly every season. So painful. So so difficult.” -@Ohioan
  • “Watching the development of the young guys. Seeing what guys like Kent Johnson, Kirill Marchenko, Daniil Tarasov, etc. can bring to the table can get you excited. I also take way more notice of things like World Juniors and the CHL season to see what our prospects and draft prospects fare.” -@WhistlinFinn
Kent Johnson Columbus Blue Jackets
Players like Kent Johnson do give fans hope for the future. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
  • “Watch YouTube.” -@CBJSprague24
  • “Watch other hockey games and teams. This is a cool sport with lots of fun talents around to watch and familiarize myself with. 90% of the games I’ve watched this season have not involved the Blue Jackets in any way.” -@Eric_Seeds
  • “Been a Browns fan since 1980 this is child’s play.” -@alsleet1
  • “My solution is simple…I stopped watching CBJ games religiously.  I used to make it a priority to watch every Jackets game I could.  Now, it is no longer a priority for me.  I am such a passionate fan that the frustration has built to a point where I don’t enjoy watching them as much as I used to.  I have grown tired of the “maybe next year” mentality…I am just not going to go out of my way to watch their games anymore.  I have reached my breaking point.  My hockey heart cannot endure the pain any longer.  37 years without bragging rights.  37 years of pain.  37 years of watching other teams have the glory and other fans experience so much joy.  I just need a break from the heartache!” -Anthony Lombardo Author’s Note: Anthony was a Whaler’s fan. That’s where 37 years kicks in.
  • “Watch another team that is good, focus on the fun and lean in harder. Follow some news sources. Watch the player and coach pre and post game videos. Keep an eye on our prospects. If all you see if the game and we lose it’s really depressing but If you hear some analysis, some of the good things we are doing, watch the players compliment each other, there is more positive.” -Morgan Bennett
  • “When the macro of the season is bad, you have to look for good in the micro.” -Jonathan Barnes
  • “I quite frequently watch from an X’s and O’s and hockey fundamentals standpoint. I watch to see the youngsters as they progress. I watch to see if the composition of the team is trending to competing for the playoffs. I watch Carolina, Tampa, Boston etc to see their team footprint vs what the CBJ puts on the ice.” -Mike Zazon
  • “While this season has been tough, I believe we accidentally overhyped Johnny Hockey signing with us and people thought that would be a quick cup for the jackets. There is no “I” in team here… we need to continue developing chemistry and with so many injuries plaguing us this season, it’s been hard to do. For me, stepping back and just enjoying my love for the game has been an easier feat. We have great young talent and individually, these guys are rock stars in the making.” -Sarah Bauman
Johnny Gaudreau Columbus Blue Jackets
Johnny Gaudreau figures to be an integral part of the Blue Jackets’ future. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Choose the Method That Works For You

No matter which method you choose, there are several options available to you in terms of coping with this season. Whether it’s looking at things from a micro standpoint, watching other teams or putting your hope in the future, there is still plenty to watch for over these last 52 games.

There’s no sugar coating this season from an on the ice perspective. It has fallen way short of the Blue Jackets’ expectations. Just know that you have a choice in what you make of it.

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These last 52 games can be the most painful experience. It can also be a fun experience too if you allow it to be. My advice? Find the method that works for you and commit to it. Find a reason to have fun and smile. Whether it’s spending more time with friends or watching the growth of the team, everyone has their sweet spot. As long as you live in your sweet spot, you will be able to cope with this difficult season on the ice.

Find the fun in the darkness. That’s the best way to cope with this current situation.