Some say Columbus isn’t a hockey town. They say it’s a joke to house a NHL team in Ohio. Reporters all over the NHL say there isn’t a market for hockey in Columbus, let alone Ohio. Columbus’ fandom is the butt of everyone’s jokes. Columbus is a misunderstood hockey town.

Bright and early yesterday morning hockey fans all over the Columbus area piled into their favorite hockey bar, R Bar.  The USA chants started almost immediately after puck drop. Every goal was accompanied by cheers so loud they could wake the dead. When they raised the American flag the bar belted out the National Anthem with such gusto I’m sure people a mile away could hear. We love our hockey. We are loud. We are obnoxious. We are proud. We are honest bordering a little on the over emotional side. We are more than just a NHL hockey town. We are an every kind of hockey town. When we are hungry for hockey we find games to satisfy that hunger.  During this lock out we have traveled near and far to get our hockey fix. AHL, ECHL,College, High School, pee wee, sled, and even beer leagues. We follow team USA religiously. Here’s the thing. We may not be strictly Jackets fans. You can’t expect that from a state that didn’t have a team until 2000.  Within six hours of Nationwide Arena there are six rather successful hockey teams. Five of which have been in existence for at least 38 years. Our fans are slowly evolving. Every week a new Blue Jacket fan is born. When opposing fans enter Nationwide Arena we try to convert them. We strike up conversations with random people wearing other teams jerseys. It’s easy to convert fans when the players are approachable and the organization takes an active interest in the fans.  We are slowly turning Ohio into a state full of  Blue Jackets fans.

Columbus may not be a Blue Jackets town but it is a hockey town. We eat, breathe, sleep, bleed, and live hockey. We have homemade rinks in our backyards. Monday nights are spent watching football on the televisions at the local Chiller in-between periods of rec league hockey games. Walk into any parking lot in Columbus and you will see at least two vanity plates dedicated to hockey. We own a multitude of hats not because we like to wear them but because we like to throw them. We even use hockey terms to describe plays in every other sport. We can’t help it. We are addicted.

Columbus is a hockey town. We accept all walks of hockey life. We may not have a Stanley cup but at least we aren’t hockey snobs.

 

 

This is my obligatory lockout post. I’ve stayed out of this long enough. Now I’m just flustered and have a lot of stuff to say. Everyone is freaking out about a season that may not happen. Note I said “may not” happen. It’s not september 15th yet. Anything can happen. The probability that there will be no lockout is far greater than the Cubs chances at winning a world series. As God as my witness if there is no 2012-2013 NHL season then the Chicago Cubs will win the world series in 2013. That’s right I said it. Enjoy my thoughts on the lockout. Well I have a feeling I’m going to incite a riot with a few of the things I have to say.

 

Hurts more than just the players and the owners

A lockout will not just put the players and owners to out of a job. Technically they won’t be out of a job. Players can go overseas and play if they want. Owners will still make money even if their team doesn’t play. What about the ticket sellers, the ushers, the custodial workers? What about the vendors, the bartenders ? What about the ice girls, the mascots, the stadium Djs? They are all going to lose a job or not get paid.  I have heard that some people working within the organizations will still have a job. They will just have a different role in the organization for the length of the lock out. I don’t know if that goes for everyone. If I worked for the organization I would be scared for my job. This is about more than just the players and the owners. You are playing with the lives of those who are struggling to pay the rent or put food on the table. I don’t know the players. I don’t know the owners. Maybe they know all of this. Maybe they don’t. I just hope these people are in their thoughts as they negotiate.

 

Players going overseas

I know how bad you want to continue playing hockey. Believe me when I say I know not having a job stinks. I do wonder one thing. Why wouldn’t you stay and fight for the end of a lockout. You have waited your whole life to play in the best league in the world. When the first sign of struggle comes along you flee? I don’t get that. If I had my dream job and something was getting in the way of it I would fight until there was no fight left in me. By going overseas during the lockout you are sending the message that you don’t want this as bad as the fans want the end of a lockout. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you can fight for your team while playing in another league but I have to believe that would be hard. With all the training, practicing, games and traveling I do not see it being easy to put forth your ideas to making the lockout come to an end. I’d rather you stay here and train your butt off  than go overseas and leave us fans behind.

 

Unemployment

I know people are moaning and groaning about how players might be able to collect unemployment. If a player is making anywhere between 1 million and the league minimum I’m ok with it. Why? You have to think about how much everything costs. Trainers, security, housing in a safe place, nutrition specialists, and equipment. None of that comes cheap.

 

My Solutions:

These are just a few solutions I could see working.  Clearly there are a lot of things that need to be done and I’m just a lowly writer who is not involved in these negotiations. I want a season so I’m throwing my two cents into the mix.

 

Pay cut:
Everyone making over 6 million dollars a year should take a pay cut. This includes owners, the commissioner, coaches, players, everyone. If money is an issue taking a pay cut should be one of the options on your list. If your team is not meeting it’s goals you shouldn’t be making the amount of money you do. Isn’t that how the “real” life works? You don’t meet your goals you lose your job or take a pay cut.

NO MORE BIG CONTRACTS
After this season No more crazy contracts. I don’t care how bad you want to win. A star player doesn’t always make for a star team. There is also this thing called chemistry. You can’t buy chemistry. You can try, it may work, but more than likely it will not. If a player wants to play for you they will come play for you. If a team wants you to play for them they will provide what is necessary. Note I said “what is necessary”. Not “what will keep you in your mercedes benz”.  Some of the contracts this summer were completely unnecessary. You’re not going to make money by shelling out that much money. You have to give a little to get a little but you also have to make sure you don’t end up with a losing team.

NO MORE EXTENDED CONTRACTS

No player should be allowed to have contracts over 5 years. You want job security then play hard, win games. That’s the nature of the beast. That’s what it’s like in the real world. No one knows what the future will bring. You could get hurt and never be able to come back. Now you are just eating away at the teams money. It sounds cold I know. I’m sorry I don’t mean to sound cold. It’s just a harsh reality.

REALIGNMENT

Sit down and figure out a money saving realignment. Get the realignment to a point where the teams are not constantly traveling. Work the schedule out so you can take the bus out to the nearest team. It worked in the past maybe It’s time to make it work again. A team in Columbus shouldn’t constantly be flying out to the west coast all the time and barely seeing anyone on the east coast. It’s silly that Columbus, Chicago and Detroit only plays Pittsburgh and Ottawa once a year. When they are close enough to play multiple times a year.

Blackouts
This one pains me the most to say since I would definitely be affected by the outcome. If you don’t have at least 80% of your seats sold by a certain date your game should be blacked out from the surrounding area. How else are people going to be motivated to get their butts to a game. It works in football, I think it could work in the NHL. There is no reason why there should be empty seats at playoff games. I’m looking at you Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, and Florida Panthers. When I went to the round 1 game 3 Detroit vs Nashville at Joe Louis Arena there were many empty seats. Not just that but there were people buying tickets the day of the playoff game. You should be sold out. Especially in Hockey Town. Come on fans.

 

Stop raising ticket prices

Fans are not going to come to games if you keep raising ticket prices. Especially if you are doubling prices. Now the owners are going to tell me they need to pay their players. Well maybe you should have thought about that before you shelled out 8 million dollars for a player who isn’t performing at their best.

FANS NEED TO GO TO GAMES

Fans if you want to help revenue. You HAVE to go to games. I’m not saying you have to sit in the most expensive seats but you have to go to the games. Sit in the nosebleeds. Buy season tickets. At least from the stand point of the Columbus Blue Jackets through out the season you can get special ticket packs. There are green seats for $10 if you get to the game early enough to buy them. If you love the team you have to find a way to the arena. This also falls on the fans.

 

Fans Convert People

We all know people who don’t like hockey, don’t understand it, or don’t even know what it is. Start small take them to a local high school game. I took my friend Jim to the St Eds vs  St Ignatius game and he was hooked. You have to look for opportunities to create a fire of passion in future fans. Take them to games with special offers. For example: This past February there was a tweet up at the Blue Jackets game. Afterwards you could meet and talk to James Wisniewski. If they see and talk to a player they will likely make a connection. Then you have a fan who wants to come to more games.

Bring people to free events like Front Street Fridays, Open Houses, and Bartending night.

Be welcoming to new fans. I’m not saying you have to be friends you just have to be nice. Which since I’ve moved down here I’ve seen is like pulling teeth. Listen to what new people have to say. Branch outside of your bubble. You will find people with common interests and you have thus made someone new feel comfortable in their new surrounding.

Owners , managers, coaches and players put yourself out there in the community.

Owners you want people to come to your games and buy your merch right? Well put yourself out there in the community. I mean really put yourself out there. Go to all of your kids games. Go to functions of those who you employ. Get involved in your local neighborhood. Volunteer at the local shelter. Shop at local stores and restaurants. Not just the ones located around the arena and around your house. I’m not saying sacrifice your privacy. Everyone deserves their privacy. Just put yourself out there in a way that will make people remember you.  Maybe even go so far as to stand by the doors on game night every once in a while and greet fans. Welcome them into “Your House”. Show the fans how much you appreciate them. If a fan feels appreciated they will come to games and more than likely bring people along for the ride.

 

 

I know these sound a little silly but we all know every little bit helps. I believe these things  could help prevent future lockouts.

VIVA LA HOCKEY!!!

JUST SAY NO TO LOCKOUTS!!

 

 

 

A little over a year ago I fell in love with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Many of my friends were miffed because I popped out of the womb proclaiming my love for the Chicago Blackhawks. They constantly ask me how I could even think about liking the Jackets. My response to them is usually this : “The Chicago Blackhawks are like your first love. You hold on to them because they have been there your whole life. The Columbus Blue Jackets are that homely girl who steals your heart and you end up marrying her. She cooks for you, cleans for you, and would do anything for you. The Blue Jackets are that team who will do everything in their power to show you just how much you are appreciated. Not because they have to because they want to.”  That my friends is real love.

I would like to take a moment to thank the Columbus Blue Jackets organization for everything they have done for me. Especially recently.

To my very first ticket rep Erica : Thank you for the support you showed my family last 4th of July when my Uncle Don died. You called me the day after the funeral to check in with me. To see how I was doing. Not once did you mention buying season tickets. Then in February when I lost my job you gave me a hug and said things will get better. You were right Erica. Things did get better.

To James Wisniewski: I met you two days after I became unemployed. When you found out I lost my job you wished me luck and said “I’m sure someone as nice as you will get a job in no time.” In July you were tweeting out local businesses from fans on twitter. I still didn’t have a job so I chanced it and tweeted at you saying I had no job. You in turn did something that literally changed my life. You retweeted me and added “Someone hook this girl up with a job!”. Two weeks later a fan of yours, who I’ve never met, tweeted a job lead at me. I looked into it  and the day before my birthday I was hired in as an Assistant Manager. Thank you so much for your support. Thank you for tweeting out that I needed a job. I’ve followed your career since you were a Blackhawk and never in my wildest dreams did I think James Wisniewski would be one of the reasons why I have a job. I could never thank you enough.

To my second ticket rep Cody: Thank you for your patience. You became my ticket rep in the midst of my unemployment. You listened to me talk about my struggles with moving. Especially about how hard it is to be away from my family. You wished me luck with every job interview I told you about. You kept me positive with every job I was denied. You called me to congratulate me on my new job and to wish me a happy birthday. Cody you have gone above and beyond what anyone could ask for in a ticket rep. Again, thank you. I can’t wait to sit down and talk to you about what I can do season ticket wise. It’s going to be a great season!!

To, the one and only, Jack “Captain Amerijack” Johnson : Thank you for the birthday tweet that killed my battery. :) I was extremely worried about my birthday this year. It was my first birthday in 27 years that I was away from my family. Everyone that I’m friends with in Columbus was working on my birthday and I was afraid to be alone. See on my 21st birthday one of my best friends committed suicide and every birthday since then if I’m not busy I end up dwelling on it. Jack, this was the first birthday since her death that I didn’t stop smiling the whole day. The amount of love I received from your fan base was unreal. Thank you. Thank you so much for making me feel special on my birthday. You didn’t have to.

 

There are many more stories like this from fans around the organization. If you are a Blue Jackets fan then you are loved!

Please share your heart warming Blue Jacket stories in the comment below. I would love to hear them. I’m sure the organization would too.

THANK YOU COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS!

 

If there is one thing Patrick Kane is good at it’s causing a boat load of shenanigans. The man went out on the town last night with Jack Johnson the Third. Wait a second. That’s not Jack Johnson. I can see how one would get confused. I mean, come on,  the man on the left is wearing a plaid shirt, a Bauer hat and looks very American. If I had a whole case of beer and a bottle of Jameson I too would think he was Jack Johnson. Sorry man, the only thing you have right about this picture is the fact Jack Johnson is a “Good Dude”. I hope one day you get to meet the real Captain AmeriJack.

 

Dear CBJ Chirpers,

   If you’re going to take the time to chirp my team please take the time to be original and funny about it. Please do not waste my time with jokes my three year old cousin could come up with in her sleep. Saying things like “The Blue Jackets aren’t a NHL team”, “You’re team is going to be moved”, and “Everyone leaves Columbus so they can win a Stanley Cup” are lame and over played. I beg you to give me something that makes me go “That’s horri*giggle*ble”. Life is too short to not be entertained. ENTERTAIN ME!!!

So now I open the floor for the next 48 hours. Chirp away in the comments section. Make me laugh. The best chirp gets a hug, a high five, a Justin Bieber trading card, and a cupcake decorated in honor of your favorite NHL team.

 

READY! SET! CHIRP!

 

 

Everyone has a player they enjoy watching. The kind of player who plays with their heart and soul. The one who leaves their blood, sweat, and tears on the ice. The one who doesn’t put up big numbers but is a play maker. The player who barely anyone has on the back of their jersey. The one who isn’t talked about in the papers. The one career you follow as they get tossed from team to team and gets thrown on the third or fourth line because no one truly recognizes their talent. The unsung player. For me that player is Nikita Nikitin.

Thrilled is not the word I would use to describe the Kris Russel for Nikita Nikitin trade. I was raging. Which means when Nikitin stepped on the ice I scrutinized every move he made. I’m glad I did because my eyes fell upon a fantastic player.

After a season that left everyone wanting more, Nikitin went to Helsinki to play for Russia in the Worlds. He showed the world what I knew. He showed the world what kind of player he truly is. Playing in all ten games Nikitin was one of the reasons why Russia won a gold medal. He may have fallen in the middle of the pack with time on ice (141:03) and assists (4) but those stats are just the tip of the iceberg. If you counted blocks, hits that created a goal and third assists Nikitin would have led the team in all of those. He was always in the right place at the right time. Nikitin made things happen. Watching him play I realized there was no real thought process. Everything Nikitin did was with pure instinct. He just knew what to do at that exact moment. When Nikitin was on the ice it was like Russia had a second goalie. If Varlamov was to the right of the net Niki was to the left. If Barulin somehow ended up behind the net Niki was in front of the net. He wouldn’t let a puck through. Nikitin barely let anyone close enough to try and score. If they got close enough he hit them. Nikitin hit them fast, hard and clean. He went through the hit and stole the puck while doing so. Thus creating some of the most beautiful plays that I have ever seen unfold on the ice. Not just that but Nikitin’s puck handling was phenomenal. He passed the puck with such precision that it blew my mind. Nikitin knew where everyone, including the opposing team, was located. He knew when to apply the pressure and when to hold back. He wasn’t afraid to fight for the puck. Nikitin definitely was not afraid to sacrifice his body.

I am proud of Niki. His hard work, determination and passion paid off. I can’t imagine what was going through Nikitin’s mind while Russia’s National Anthem played. I can’t imagine what it was like for him to feel the Gold medal around his neck. What I can imagine is how proud all of Columbus is of Nikita Nikitin. Congratulations. Thanks for bringing our organization a gold.

 

 

 

At 11:30 Friday morning fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets gathered outside of Nationwide Arena to play games, listen to tunes, and meet RJ Umberger. This event marked the beginning of “Front Street Friday”. A day meant to celebrate the team and the players we love. There were dollar dogs, slap shot accuracy test and photo opportunities with Stinger. The Blue Jackets organization also provided free sunscreen for fans standing in line to meet RJ. Thus proving their commitment to fighting cancer extends beyond the realm of pediatrics.

RJ took the time to talk to each and everyone of his fans. Giving each one special attention. The way he handled the kids made my heart melt. You can tell he is a great father to his children.

Afterwards a few of my friends and I went ice skating at the Ice Haus which is attached to Nationwide Arena. While we were there we got a surprise visit from RJ Umberger himself.

 

 

Of course the first question asked was “How do you really feel about Jeff Carter”. For all of you curious Georges out there you will not find that answer out because we did not allow him to answer. We deemed it quite inappropriate. Many of my friends are new to playing hockey and RJ took the time to explain what it takes to train to be a hockey player. He went over the importance of the proper way to do squats. Honestly, I thought squats were just squats. I never realized you could hurt yourself squatting wrong. Also, thanks to RJ, I know why God blessed me with big thighs and a big booty. Apparently they help with balance and the ability to skate well. Too bad I spent all those year playing softball when clearly my body was built for hockey. Which led us to the next round of questions pertaining to what RJ Umberger does during the off-season. While some of the players go to the arena to practice in the off-season he works out at home. It gives RJ a chance to rejuvenate and come back fresh when the season starts. Plus that means more time spent with his wife and children. We chatted with him a little bit more and then picked his brain about the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Let’s just say if someone in the East wins the cup RJ won’t be upset.

All in all the day was quite pleasant. OK, I lied, the day was great. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience at Front Street Fridays. Thank you Columbus Blue Jackets and RJ Umberger for making my Friday memorable.

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