Columbus Blue Jackets muted by Calgary Flames, 6-0

Sports

You see them and immediately forget them when they leave your field of view.

You see them and and then immediately forget them all when they leave your line of sight.
Photo: Getty Images

It was a slow night as far as the news goes. So while looking around various sites and headlines, I noticed that the Calgary Flames put a touchdown on the Columbus Blue Jackets, a 6-0 blanking. And when I looked under the hood, I saw that the Jackets turned in 62 shots. 62.

Do you know how hard it is to give up more than one shot per minute in an NHL game? Keep in mind that you should get a few power plays, maybe even a few, which are two minute segments where a team is not allowed to give up a chance at all. The Jackets only had one power play, but didn’t give up a shot the entire time, so that’s 62 shots in 58 minutes. Attempts? Certainly. But shots on target? You would think enough of your players would just wander/trip into blocking a shot, often enough to keep you from a shot at the minute rate.

You have to actively flee the firing ranges or maybe even fire the puck at your own goalkeeper to get 60+ shots in a game. It is a franchise record for the Flames, who have played in the NHL for 50 years. Even in the go-go 80s, when the Flames had probably the second best team in the league next to the Oilers for a decade and almost everyone was drunk in the dirt, they couldn’t get 60 shots in a game.

And then I started to think that this might be the most poignant thing the Jackets have ever done. Because, is there a more irrelevant franchise in a sport than the jackets? They have been around for 22 years. The Golden Knights have been around for less than five years. Vegas has won six more playoffs than the Jackets in its history.

And you might think there are plenty of eternally bad teams in the NHL, including in sports. The ones that never seem to get it right. The Coyotes are always seemingly fucked. The Panthers haven’t won a playoff series since Letterman was on NBC. Usually you need to be reminded that the ducks exist.

Except that at least the Coyotes do everyone the favor of being a comedy act every now and then. They are so bad, and so badly run, that they make the news for it. Due to their instability, they occasionally come into consciousness. You can identify something about them. The Panthers made it to a final once, now have arguably the best team in the East, and a rapper maybe or not have had sex in the luxury suites. Reports from Anaheim say the Ducks have won a cup once and reached another final before that. They even had some Hall of Famers play for them. I know, miracles never stop.

What do you know about the blue jackets? They’ve never had any issues with the arena as they’ve always played in a pretty nice building in downtown Columbus. It has a cannon that you may have heard beat writers complain about. That’s probably the extent of your Nationwide Arena knowledge.

(Quick story, my brother worked in an office in Nationwide Arena for a while. When he applied for the job, he jokingly asked his boss if there was a secret door that led you to the top deck or something. His boss said, “Oh yes, it is there.”)

Who is the most recognizable player in Jackets history? It must be Rick Nash… and he hasn’t played in Columbus in 10 years. He will probably become a Hall of Famer because everyone makes the Hockey Hall of Fame, especially if you were on Team Canada in 2010 and 2014. It’s just an automatic. Those two tournaments were also the only times Nash was interesting in any way, unless you count the Rangers fans whining about him. But Rangers fans are whining about everyone.

Except that? Sergei Bobrovski?

Oh sure, Jackets fans wherever they are will point out that the Jackets set off the biggest playoffs in history when they defeated the 126-point Lightning in 2019. Only playoff series ever win. Anyway, Maryland Baltimore-County defeated a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament once, the only one to ever do so. Do we ever think about UMBC again? We do not. And everyone likes that. Such a university team should disappear into the air again. This is an NHL team we’re talking about.

No, the Jackets have lived in the margins or in the dark for pretty much their entire existence. Other than Nash, there’s never been another #1 pick to get excited about, another player they could really become relevant to. They’re never bad to be a story, and they’ve never been good. I’d say it’s the Grizzlies, but the Grizzes have Ja Morant. The Sacramento Kings had the whole Chris Webber era. The Chargers have moved and been to a Super Bowl. The Pirates were actually good and fun not too long ago, and then they were at least a crime against baseball to keep their name alive.

The jackets are from Delaware. They are a resting place. It’s elevator music. They are there, but you don’t know they are there. You should be told they are. It’s deja vu, except you can’t remember it, except it’s related to no previous experience. They come and they go, and neither of them is really known. They are the Men In Blue, except they serve nothing or no one.

And you’ll forget them within 16 seconds of reading it.

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