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Blue Jackets fans rejoice as team advances to next round of playoffs

April 17, 2019

Originally posted in The Columbus Dispatch By Kevin Stankiewicz | April 16, 2019

The chants rang out in bursts, like a cannon being shot after a goal, as the waves of fans left Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night.

“CBJ! CBJ! CBJ!” they shouted. Three simple letters marking 18 seasons worth of anticipation.

The Columbus Blue Jackets had won their first NHL playoff series, sweeping the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0, and Nationwide Plaza had become center stage for celebrating fans.

Strangers hugged and high-fived. One fan tried to part the crowd, saying, “Excuse me. Excuse me. Just trying to make my way through.”

He had a broom.

There was talk of buying tickets to second-round games. Another fan said to his friends, “What a historic night. We just won the Stanley Cup.”

Mmmmmm, no, not yet. But keep that thought.

For those who couldn’t be among the more than 18,500 who were jam-packed into Nationwide Arena for the game, the next-best place to be was the other arena — R Bar Arena on North Front Street.