At long last, the playoff victory drought is over in Columbus, Ohio. The Blue Jackets permanently put a cannon blast to their previous first-round failures in historic fashion.
When the dust settled, the Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning out of the playoffs with a stunning 7-3 win at Nationwide Arena. They now await the winner of the Boston/Toronto series.
We can talk about the history made in this series. We can talk about how the Blue Jackets dominated the Lightning from beginning to end. We can debate how big an upset this is on an all-time scale. All this will be well documented.
What we need to talk about here is who the true winners of this sweep are. This moment has been 20 years in the making for the loyal fans of this team. When I say loyal, I mean those that have put up with the lowest of lows with no end in sight. I mean those who kept going to Nationwide Arena supporting this team with everything they had even if the Blue Jackets didn’t give it all they had.
Almost 20 years of frustration, disappointment, sadness, anger and despair was released in the most excellent way possible. The roof of Nationwide Arena could barely contain the noise inside.
This is a story of the fans and their feelings when the final horn of Game 4 sounded. It was a celebration perfect for Columbus.
Not an Ordinary Series Win
It’s always great to see your team win a round in the playoffs. The players celebrate their accomplishment. The fans go wild. For some teams, a series win per season is commonplace.
That’s why what happened on Tuesday night in Columbus will go down as one of the biggest if not the biggest moment in Blue Jackets’ franchise history. Very few around the hockey world gave this team a chance to advance. But in the face of all those critics and one of the best regular season teams in NHL history, the Blue Jackets showed the hockey world that Columbus is not only good, but a real hockey town. Did you hear the fans?
This was no ordinary series win. This was a moment that some have waited their entire lives for. The celebration was full of cheering, yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs mixed with tears of joy and shaking. Some fans didn’t even know what to do with themselves. It finally happened. Was this real life?
Yep this happened for real. I took to Twitter after the game to get a sense of how fans truly felt now that the Blue Jackets have a playoff round win under their belt. To say that this fan base is excited doesn’t give it justice. Just look at some of the things fans said and felt about this historic sweep.
- Tears of happiness.
- This is the first time a team of mine has advanced. 29 years.
- My heart is pounding. I’m crying.
- It feels like nobody should dismiss us anymore.
- After the last two years of heartbreaking losses in the first round, I don’t know what to do with this excitement and these emotions.
- I was screaming and then when I saw Bill Davidge react, I started crying.
- There are words? Good question.
- I have no words.
- No words, all the feelings.
- I don’t know what to do with myself.
- I am totally numb. I want to cry tears of joy but like I don’t know what to do.
- I am not going to be able to go to sleep.
- To wait this long and finally be awarded is the best feeling I could imagine. No matter what happens I will always remember this.
- Speechless. Tuesday makes the last 19 years worth it.
- There is so much relief and to know the monkey is off this team’s back.
There were stories of families celebrating together. There was a story of a father and son jumping up and down running around their apartment celebrating. There was even a high school track team watching the game on their way home from a meet. They weren’t missing that game.
Only the Beginning
As great as this moment and these stories are, this is only the beginning. These Blue Jackets have bigger goals in mind. Winning just one round falls far short of what their goal is.
But now fans have a taste. They have tasted sweet victory in the playoffs for the first time. They’ve tasted it and it’s very good. They like the team want so much more.
After some time off for the rest of the first round, the Blue Jackets will start preparations for round two. They’ll have the incredible support of their loyal fan base, more excited than ever for what the immediate future holds.
Who knows what will happen over these next couple of weeks? But the one thing we do know is that Columbus did something in this postseason that no fan who experienced it will ever forget.
At long last. Blue Jackets’ fans don’t have to live with the title of never winning a playoff series. After 20 long, hard years, that’s as good as it gets.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.