Boom! The NHLPA has rebuffed the NHL's realignment plan. Yes, your read that correctly.
The implementation of the league's realignment plan set for next season is dead (for now) according to USA Today. What a major blow to the Columbus Blue Jackets. And, you thought things couldn't get any worse for the hapless Jackets, eh?
Well, lets take a look.
Financially viable franchise
One of the most dire needs of the franchise has been to remain financially viable. The NHL's realignment plan would have helped bring down the travel costs associated with the lengthy trips to western Canada and California. Another year of mounting monetary losses will definitely spell trouble for the team's long term future in Columbus.
These monetary losses trump all the losses on the ice.
The significant time-zone differences between Columbus and most of the other teams in the current Western Conference has taken a toll on the players. Fatigue and back-to-back games have not helped this franchise, while most other teams have enjoyed a fairly tenable schedule.
Creating exciting rivalries with teams a couple of time zones away is not the easiest thing. It defies logic when there are teams within a short car trip away from Columbus in the Eastern Conference that would make for some natural rivalries.
Home and away series with every team
Most of all, the Jackets fans will be robbed of seeing all the teams come to Nationwide Arena as was proposed under the NHL's realignment plan. In fact, each team was to play a home and away game with all the teams.
This would have been great for the game of hockey and terrific for teams like the Jackets that are struggling financially through an increase in attendance.
Jackets cannot catch any breaks
It seems as though the Blue Jackets cannot catch any breaks.
First, one of their premier offseason acquisitions, James Wisniewski, got hit with a record suspension and a fine at the beginning of the season. That was followed by a litany of injuries and setbacks to key players. The expectations for Steve Mason between the pipes have fallen way short of the mark, and there is no veteran replacement yet.
The GM and head coach are scraping at the bottom of the barrel for answers and seemingly appearing helpless. The list of such epic failures could go on and on.
Well, what else can go wrong for the Jackets?