Wednesdays With Hildy: Fan Participation - Does It Even Send A Message?

Calendar? We don't need no stinkin' calendar! To tell you the honest to God truth, I went through the whole day today thinking that it was Thursday. Maybe I do need one after all.

Anywho, this week's Tuesday's Wednesdays With Hildy isn't necessarily Blues related right at this moment, but it could have been right after the lock-out. Remember those awesome days? It was like the bottom fell out of the team, and nothing they did went right. They finished dead last in the NHL after making the playoffs for 25 years straight, which was a blow to fans of the franchise. It took them quite a few seasons of building through youth, John Davidson's intelligent personnel decisions, and getting some coaching in that knew how to work with kids and yet still get them to work before the Blues started the return to form that all of us have expected for so long.

But what if? What if the smart moves weren't made and the patience wasn't shown? What if the Blues destroyed their draft picks? What if the team's dry spell lasted eleven seasons save for one? Thankfully, that didn't happen, but put yourself in the shoes of someone who it's happened to; put yourself in the shoes of a Columbus Blue Jackets fan.

One year in the playoffs ending with a four game sweep by the Detroit Red Wings was a bit of a balm on the wound that's been festering for a while in Ohio. It showed the fans that yes, the team could make the playoffs if they just worked hard enough. The next season showed them that ownership's commitment to winning was more of a fluke than the Blue Jackets' making the playoffs. Firing of solid coaching (thanks, by the way) and the eventual decimation of the talent around Rick Nash crippled the team. Their former Calder winner Steve Mason was worse than having a pylon in net. Everything was done wrong. The promise and potential of that one playoff appearance went down the drain.

Recently owner John McConnell and the rest of the crew went on a mad spending spree, bringing in a defenseman who promptly got suspended then hurt -- twice -- before he could begin to try to make an impact. They also brought in noted prima-donna Jeff Carter, who not only has hurt himself a few times this year but had his pride hurt when traded to Columbus. His pouting and refusal to talk to the media after the trade was just the tip of the iceberg. We all know what followed -- if you look up "lost season" in a dictionary, there's a photo of this season's Blue Jackets team next to the definition.

McConnell sent out a letter to season ticket holders, who let them know:

I understand you want to know what we're going to do to fix this, but it is important for us to maintain a degree of discretion to prevent putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Aw, cute. Reading between the lines, that sounds like you have absolutely no clue what you're doing and how to fix things.

Two-hundred and fifty irate Jackets fans headed to Nationwide Arena to voice their displeasure and were met with coffee and platitudes from management. One person even said, “People not caring is the worst thing that can happen. You can't say that about them, about the men and women who came here today, they love the team.” Well, that's swell -- now that you recognize it, are you fixing it?

Or honestly, will they even really care? Yes, having some outcry while the team is sucking is better than doing so after they have sucked their last game, but after this long, will the management look at the fans and try to make changes, or will they ignore them and go on, proud of the All Star Game and their star player Rick Nash? Memo to the Jackets: an all-star game and having a couple of top tier players in it is usually a signal of the end times. Ask Atlanta.

My question to you guys is twofold: one, what would your reaction be if the Blues didn't actually put forth effort in fixing what was wrong with the team? Would you grab signs and head down to Scottrade, or would you voice your displeasure in the form of boycotting the team? Second part of the twofold question is this -- do you feel like management of NHL teams really, truly, listen to fans' concerns in the down times, or do they just smile, nod, and keep killing a team?

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