As the Columbus Blue Jackets' season ended in that last minute of the game in Nationwide Arena, it was easy to see eight years of frustration in the fans. But throwing objects onto the ice is inexcusable, right?
Well, because of my experience at that particular contest, I was not surprised or upset at what was occurring. To call a "too many men on the ice" penalty in a tie game with a minute left: That was inexcusable. I could have counted at least four other infractions that could have been called during that period that were much more blatant.
But the game and season is over, so time now to stop my venting. The good news is the Jackets will be a force to be reckoned with in 2010.
The Jackets will be returning one of the youngest teams in the NHL. The franchise has put in place all the keys to developing a consistent winner.
You have, of course, your franchise player in Rick Nash. Now toss in the guys Rick needs to succeed, like veterans Kristian Huselius, Antoine Vermette, R.J. Umberger, "Speedy Power-Play" defenseman Kris Russell, Jared "I Ain't Afraid of Anyone" Boll, incredible assist man Jakub Voracek, and rookie sensations Derick Brassard and Steve Mason.
Then top it off with a full dose of the Russian phenom Nikita Filatov, due to make a huge impact on the Central Division next season, and let's just say Columbus will be a tough foe for any team, including the Detroit Red Wings, whose age is soon to confront them.
With a potent offense, a steady netminder, and a Hall of Fame coach all already in place, the Jackets will have to focus on unloading some of the old talent to gain defensive power. I could see them jettisoning Fredrik Modin, Michael Peca, Jiri Novotny, Fredrik Norrena, and possibly another defenseman to improve the D-line.
But regardless of any summer moves, I think you will see a spike in team chemistry in the year 2010. Also look for another goaltender to find his groove, this time backup Dan LaCosta, who impressed this year with his 2-0 record and 1.54 goals against average.
Here's to "Carrying the Flag!" See ya next year, Blue Jackets fans.