Things have changed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, not so long ago the lovable losers of the NHL.
''We feel, going into the season right now, that we have every right to win as much as anybody else does,'' said John Davidson, the club's director of hockey operations. ''I'm not sure that feeling was there going into last season.''
The reason isn't hard to pinpoint. The Blue Jackets were in their accustomed place in dead last in the NHL standings after the first 19 games (5-12-2) of the season, shortened to 48 contests because of the lockout.
Then, all of a sudden, they caught fire. They went 19-5-5 the rest of the way and had the second-best record only to Pittsburgh in the final two months of the season.
They won before increasingly large and vocal crowds at home, then went on the road and continued to win.
So, even though they tied for the final playoff spot and lost on a tiebreaker, there's an entirely new and different feeling...