As the semifinals of the EA Sports NHL14 Cover Vote went down this past weekend, I was given a quick preview of what Twitter will be like for me next season. The Islanders John Tavares was up against the Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky.
Now, I’ve been an Islanders fan for as long as I can remember. I used to go out to Long Island to visit my grandparents and watch the games on TV with them as a small child. I was heartbroken when the lost in the 1979 playoffs to the hated Rangers. (Especially since my brothers were Ranger fans, ugh!) I sat and listened to the games on radio when they weren’t on TV during the glory years, and I’ve hung with them through some tough years since.
I lived in Columbus when the Blue Jackets came into existence. Since they represented the chance to see NHL games locally, I was a big fan of Columbus getting a team, and since they were in the Western Conference, I was safe to root for them for 79 or 80 games every year. (The exceptions being games against the Isles, where I traded out my Blue Jackets jersey for an Islanders one!) I figured one day, they might meet in the Finals, but it was unlikely and I’d worry about that then.
Now, with both teams in the same division next year, there’s no rooting for the Blue Jackets. As I watched my Columbus followers push for votes for Bob, and my Isles tweeps push for Tavares, there was no doubt which one I wanted to win. They are the enemy. We maybe don’t have the same history as we do with the Rangers, Devils, Flyers, and Penguins, but the Blue Jackets are the same as those teams. A division foe that must be banished if we are to make the playoffs and ultimately win the Cup.
Sure, I’ll always have a soft spot for the Blue Jackets, and if the Isles are eliminated, I might just pick up some rooting interest for them. On the other hand, as the years go by, there will be incidents, games, and players who I grow to hate, that will up the emotional ante for competing against the Jackets just like with our more traditional rivals.
It’s been fun Jackets, but starting next season, it’s over between us.
Just when the hockey world counted out the Isles and gave the Peguins a walk into round two, the boys gut it out and steal game 2. We go to Long Island tied up at a game a piece and the old NVMC will be rocking come Sunday. I’m just sad that I will be on a plane instead of enjoying the scene, but I’m sure the fans will do us all proud.
The Pens may be the better team, and may yet win the series, but the Islanders are declaring themselves a team to be dealt with going forward.