How are things? No, seriously. How are things? Saw you were in Columbus recently. It was pretty cool to see the training you’ve been doing. You look trim – fifteen pounds off your frame, eh? That’s impressive. You also sounded a bit more serious in your on-camera interview. No more cocking your head to the side, voice raised a bit. Great step forward.
I’ve always liked you, Mase. I watched your Calder year – I remember standing through entire games to watch you win. There is even a Mason Blue Jackets jersey in our household based on that year. But the last two years? Man, they have stung. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put everything on you. You were rushed through the early years of your development after London, rewarded perhaps a bit too early with that big contract and have played behind some porous defenses sometimes with only 2-3 names from our opening night roster. And what makes it worse is that sometimes, even with all that, we see glimpses of the 2009 Mason. Two years ago, we ventured to DC to watch you take on the Caps. You stood so tall in goal that night – it was a sight to behold. And then last year, there were wins against Vancouver at Nationwide, and against Detroit – 31 saves! Sometimes, you’re so so good.
But, that’s not the majority of the time is it? You know what’s happened – the team has floundered and patience has seemingly run out. Howson has gone and secured Bobrovsky. The #1 Goalie spot isn’t yours anymore. Its up for grabs. The fan base is emotionally exhausted from believing that you’ll turn it around. We want to believe, Steve. We really really do. Heck, statistically, you’re pretty level with Bernier, but some fans are clamoring for him because its just so hard to believe in you anymore.
Now, I know its a contract year, and maybe that’s why you’re working so hard. The optimist in me wants to believe it’s that more than that though. I want to think that your age is catching up with you, that Ian Clark is getting through to you, that you want this team to win, that this is the year you return to what you can be. So here’s what I need you to do.
Steve, I need you to understand that right now, the jury is still out. Don’t let that get to you. Do whatever it takes to get in the right mind space and stay focused. Keep training and stay lean and fit. Oh, and please don’t get injured. I would also like you to believe in what the Jackets are today. We know there’s been bad blood in the past. Feelings that your defense wasn’t all it needed to be. Let’s squash all that.
Finally, I know goalies by nature are often quite solitary. You have to be. But publicly,we might need a mea culpa. Like I said, I watched your CBJ interview, and I know every athlete participates in a delicate balance of PR-isms, but I think we’d love some more acknowledgement of “I” from you when we look at last year. There are 1,001 colloquialisms about needed to learn from failures. Acknowledging them and how they’ve fueled you to move forward might go a long way. And then let’s move to “we”. The last 20 games bring credit to all of you – and it will take all of you to move this ship forward. So let’s throw “we” in there whenever we can.
It’s funny, because I’m usually all about the intangibles. I love hearing guys are putting in work, and guys are re-dedicated but this time, well, I’m sorry, but I need to see this all pay off with you. As they say, winning cures everything. If you can win, I assure you that I will be one of the first in line to trumpet your victories and applaud your hard work. I’m really happy to see you putting in the effort now more so than you have before – now let’s turn that into something real between the pipes.
Come on, Steve Mason, show us that you too will Join the Battle.