Friday, September 30, 2011

How Can You Not be in Awe?

Yep. Two posts in one day, friends. Consider yourselves lucky ;)

I've talked before about someone I hold in very high esteem, my friend Tom, and his amazing dedication to producing some of the best fan videos from any sport any where.

My personal favorite has always been Call to Arms. Today, Tom gave us all some amazing nuggets (easter eggs if you will) within the video that already had many of us excited beyond measure for the season.

I'm going to share those with you here now, but I must say first that once again, more than ever before, I stand in awe of Tom, his dedication and his talent. Here's my recommendation - watch the video, then read his tweets below, and then watch the video again according to his markers (start from the bottom - also I'll keep updating as Tom does). If you don't stand in appreciation of the work - both emotional and mental - that went into this video well, I don't know what to tell you.

The puck drops in 7 days. If our boys are as dedicated and hard-working as Tom, I foresee a great season ahead. Enjoy the best CBJ video ONE. MORE. TIME. (with emphasis)!

(obligatory Jeff shout out here ;) Oh! And for shame those of you who didn't know our beloved DD is blocking that shot ;) See what I did there Jeff? )


A New Tradition Already?

I've decided to hold off on posting lately for a couple of reasons. First of all, the astute hockey brains that make up the CBJ Blogger community are really showing their stuff with posts covering all the pre-season action and player evaluations; second of all, given that this blog is mainly about a fan's perspective (Read: not a smart hockey person) I'd decided to wait until the close of pre-season to do an overall that is coming.

But in the interim, we may have a new tradition forming. The night of the first pre-season game, our little twitter family hastily decided to get together for a quick "tweet up" behind the cannon during 1st Intermission. (You see, I thought about this - 2nd intermission, people can be too frustrated, or have to go home why not get together while expectations remain high ;) And the cannon, well...ya know)

So anyway - pretty soon my great friend Steph caught wind of this activity, and all of a sudden I'm getting retweeted by people who I don't even know! (which is pretty cool by the way). And so, you can imagine my joy when I came walking towards the cannon to find THIS (ok not this exactly this was later but you get my point, its not like people were just randomly standing posed for a picture):

This picture represents some of my very favorite people - who I just happened to meet through the CBJ community - and not even everyone could make it that night. We chatted, we laughed, Jeff made fun of my Dorsett affection, all in all a good time.

So, when I finally made it to my second pre-season game last night, I figured, what the heck, let's do it again! And while not as many people made it last night, it was still cool to meet folks I still hadn't met face to face, and to hear people who said, "can't make it tonight, but let's do it again Opening Night!"

So here's my offer folks - and its up for the taking. CBJ fans - if you want to meet your favorite bloggers, or twitterers, or fun folks (I'm going to drag Dancing Kevin there when he comes for a game) Come hang out at the Cannon, any game, for 1st Intermission. If I'm there (guess who's jersey I'll be wearing ;) ) I'll be shouting it from the rooftops before the game starts on Twitter, but even for those games that I will not be able to attend, let's get the gang together (heck, the fact that I'm NOT there may be a draw for some ;) ).

We've got some pretty cool peeps from all over Ohio and the US who make it to games - and its always fun to put a face to a blog or a twitter handle. (The comment "I still don't know who Dark Blue Jacket is" has been heard more than once. DBJ - you are in high demand, my friend!)

So, spread the word, bring new people, bring new fans! Everyone in the picture above has made my CBJ experience that much better...let's share that with fans new and old to show them just how very cool it is to follow Columbus hockey - even off the ice!

Let's Go Jackets! #CallToArms

Monday, September 12, 2011

Converting the Unconvertible...

A lot has been made of the beleaguered Blue Jackets, fighting to survive in an Ohio State College Football Town. I've already self-confessed to being one of these "Buckeye born and bred" types and, in addition to my ramblings, many have stated a case that this just might be the year that some Buckeyes convert over to realizing what a gem we have in a local NHL team...between NCAA sanctions and the promise that lies in the recent CBJ off-season signings, some have posited that we might be able to turn a few scarlet and grey heads...

But those were the logical arguments. This past weekend, I had a revelation of the more important kind...the "Fan" kind, the heart kind.

Friday was Fan Fest. An event that I thoroughly enjoyed - for many reasons OTHER than just seeing Derek twice, seriously. (We'll talk about that later ;) ) At Fan Fest, we, as a fan community, had unprecedented access to a variety of team resources and every player that was in town participated - in multiple ways. There were activities for every type of fan - "i want a picture" "i want an autograph" "i am 4 and i want to try and shoot a goal" "oh look! hotdogs!" and every single person I met, including fellow fans was polite and fun to be around.

Saturday, I went to the Ohio State game.

I sat there and watched a couple hundred kids play football. They felt "apart". The field there felt more distant than the ice in NWA. That wall between row 1AAA and the field, may as well be 80 feet tall. Now, more then ever, the NCAA issues have brought down a cloud of "look but don't touch" around the team, and now there is a constant questioning (and blame-placing) of every single thing that's going on behind the scenes. I also sat through an entire first quarter where the majority of the fans (and not just around me this time) couldn't be bothered to cheer because they were too busy glad-handing the "Friend" walking up and down the aisles.

Then it dawned on me. How today's "Buckeye Fan" would love the Jackets. Guys who are so desperate to get close to high quality athletes that they will hand envelopes of cash under the table - or across the tattoo parlor counter as the case may be - could have easily hobnobbed with even Jeff Carter less than 24 hours ago. Instead of hearing "the 100's of things you can't do as an Ohio State fan", the CBJ fan is hearing come out - participate (buy tickets!) but we'll appreciate you. For right now, we've got a team looking to build relationships with their fans - and practicing what they preach. And, at least in the NHL, its all out in the open when it comes to the benjamins - oh, and hey, you can drink right out in the open at CBJ games.

Oh sure - the "you want what you can't have" argument looms large. And yes, we still have the "success" issue...but really, if they'd just give it a chance, arguably the Ohio State fan might find themselves much more satisfied in the world of NHL - where you can offer a guy a drink if you see him in a local restaurant or bar, where, by the way, he's allowed to be, can probably afford to be (legally), oh and legitimately can have a drink or two. If you think buying a player something will ingratiate yourself to him, then by all means do it. You can say you know someone, drop names to your friends, and its not quite as ridiculous when the guy is in his mid to late 20's versus 18. And, you just might find yourself liking a new sport, versus going mainly "because everyone who's someone will be there".

I dunno. Maybe its just me - but Friday night sure felt a lot better than Saturday...and that had nothing to do with the score.

Let's Go Jackets! #CalltoArms

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Community in Which We Live...

What's that saying? Its all in the company you keep? Well, we're "this close" to hockey (thank the lord!) so, before we dive into who makes the roster, who's scratched and the first games, I thought I'd take one last long loving look at the intangibles that the Blue Jacket fan base has...aside from Dorsett's fire, Nash's goals, Calvert's hat tricks, and Masons...ok, well you get the idea...aside from all that, what we've got here, my friends, is a bona fide Blue Jackets Community. Aside from the sport itself, the people surrounding this team are really quite special. I dare say, win or lose (hopefully a lot more of the former than the latter) as the season draws near, every CBJ fan has a lot to look to - and appreciate - throughout the season:

Bloggers. While not new to the sports community, bloggers of all that is CBJ have to be some of the most welcoming I've met. In a theme that will quickly run through this entire post, I can't name (or link to) all the CBJ bloggers without unconsciously omitting someone, but you can see some of my favorites here to the left. You can find pretty much anything you want from hard core analysis to a "new fan" perspective, to lil ol' me, just saying "hey look here, I'm a fan!" ;)

I can tell you that the bloggers i've met have been nothing short of awesome. They know their stuff, they are quite welcoming, and content on a web page aside, they're really interested in getting to know one another and YOU. They engage. Its awesome. I would not be blogging if it weren't for a couple few key bloggers who encouraged me along the way.(thank you T and R)

Fan Groups. Looking to break into true CBJ fandom? Well there's a lot of groups that can help you connect with the organization and other fans at a variety of levels, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter - check out Jacket Backers, Arch City Army, and Reclaim Our Barn. Regardless of the type of fan you want to be, and the type of activity you're looking for, there's a group for you.

If you don't have a hockey buddy just yet, or are looking to meet more - definitely check one of these out.

Bars. Its hockey, people. Its also CBJ hockey - drinks can be necessary. Thus, we have hockey bars. There's arguably THE bar to go to near Nationwide Arena: R Bar. Great management, 24 / 7 hockey on the telly, and CBJ presence guaranteed (usually, damn you Pens fans) makes this a great spot pre and post game or even during away games.

Looking for other spots to Carry the Flag? Check out Garage Bar (I'll be there if RBar gets TOO crazy)  or Bostons, or if you're not downtown, I have a soft spot for BW's in Grandview. (I don't care what the sign reads, the place is called BW's (bee-dubs). Period. Don't argue with me ;) )

Ways to Play. We've got the CAHL. The adult hockey league here in central Ohio. Catch the fire to lace up some skates? Want to learn the game? The second largest adult hockey league in the nation is led by a former Jacket, Martin Spanhel, and can get you on ice and playing in no time (ask my washing machine with its load of 3 games a week worth of hockey gear. Yeah, thanks for that, Stephen).

So this has been a fairly sterile post - but more than just sharing ways to get involved and stay connected, I really wanted to share all these resources because, without question, every single person behind every single thing I've mentioned has become a friend. You cannot discount the quality of person behind every CBJ fan twitter, blog, restaurant, group. Many people who I met first through a blog or a twitter, or running into continuously at games, have become true friends. To those I now know, you're not just "hockey friends", you're FRIENDS. When I measure my excitement for the coming season, It is as much about spending time with EACH OF YOU as it is about hockey - color me crazy but I don't know that many teams can say that.

Folks, when you jump on the Blue Jackets band wagon, you can get a lot more out of it than just hockey.

Fan Fest is Friday, and, while its mainly about the Blue Jackets (the schedule is quite impressive - I want to be 3 places at once), and OK, I demanded a copy of an excel version of said schedule that someone made, and I may have TOLD my husband today (calling repeatedly till he answered the phone. He loves that) that we must be at the Arena by 5 because I need Derek Dorsett's autograph on my 3rd Jersey and then I must have a picture with him at center ice (scheduled for a mere 30 minutes later), and well, yeah, I did demand we figure out the quickest way to get from the autograph station to Center Ice, Ok, aside from all that, there's a whole list of people who don't play for the Blue Jackets who I'm really really looking forward to seeing in person and giving each of them a hug.

So CBJ fans, we've got a team, and we've got each other. That's not a bad bargain in my eyes.

This is a Call to Arms, my friends.

Let's Go Jackets!

*PS I'll be in the - wait for it - Derek Dorsett t-shirt or Jersey (post signing), if you see me, come say HI!