If you were following twitter on Friday following the #CBJ Front Street Friday event you may have noticed a new slogan began to make its way around the #CBJ community: “Join the Battle”. This was rumored to be, and subsequently confirmed, as the new #CBJ slogan going into the 2012-13 season. To make it even more official, roughly 36 hours later Aaron Portzline released an article on the Puck Rakers blog re-confirming this as the new #CBJ slogan. The slogan for the past two seasons, “Gotta See it Live”, has been officially retired. Fans worried that the “Carry the Flag” slogan is going away can rest easy as it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Both “Join the Battle” and “Carry the Flag” will co-exist for the time being.
So, Join the Battle… now we know the words… but what are they trying to say? As I’ve been trying to do with this blog, I’m not going to try to convince you one way or the other I’m just going to try and explain what they mean to me.
It’s no secret things didn’t go well last season. Suspensions, injuries, firings, trades and the worst standings finish (but not worst season) in franchise history. But unlike some professional sports organizations that appear to be content with being bottom feeders (see: the Cleveland Browns), the message that came out of the organization following this season was a strong commitment to improving as an organization, on and off the ice; the status-quo is no longer acceptable.
Howson had this to say in April:
“The expectations have been too low around here, and that goes not only for the players and coaches, but for management and everybody else.”
- Scott Howson, April 2012
John P. McConnell added in this quote in May:
“As we look forward and start a new era with our public partnership with us, I promise you will get our best. … Hopefully, we’ll be bringing many playoff games here – as well as Stanley Cup finals games here.”
- John P. McConnell, May 2012
While it’s easy to dismiss this as ‘saying the right things’ to try and keep a demotivated fanbase interested, I see it as an organization maturing and realizing just how hard you have to work to be successful in the NHL. The organization as a whole appears to have realized that they can’t just coast through the season and expect to be one of those top 8 teams in the conference that make the playoffs. Top to bottom, management to players, coaches to trainers, everyone is going to have to be ready to battle every day to make this team successful.
I’ve already said that I sense a major culture change coming to the locker room this season. I’m expecting this to be one of the hardest working teams in the NHL and while they may not have the most skilled roster they’re going to be ready for battle each and every night. They’ll still lose games, all teams do, but unlike in seasons past it won’t be for a perceived lack of effort or conditioning.
To tie this all up I’m going to re-use a quote from James Wisniewski that I used in a previous post:
The thing is, which is great, is the support that we still had this year with having the losing record that we did. I mean, the last 5 home games were pretty close to a sellout. You can just see the excitement that they’re just thriving for a winning organization and a winning team. Trust me, we all want to get there. We know that this place will be rowdy. It will be a hard place to play in when we turn things around and we start winning some games.
Ownership, management and players all appear to have a renewed focus for the 2012-13 season: prepare for battle. The team you see take the ice in October will not be the same team you’ve watched over the last 2-3 seasons. Positive change is coming to the Blue Jackets and I plan to be there to witness it. I want to be one of those rowdy fans making Nationwide Arena a tough place to play in for other teams.
I can’t wait for the battle to begin.