It’s not about the total Ws in the win column. It’s not about how many players decorating the roster who are known worldwide as super stars.
No, the feeling from the fans who show up to Open Houses to meet the players is that it’s all about something a little more grounding: love of the game.
The Blue Jackets put on several open houses before the beginning of the season to allow fans the opportunity to build relationships with the athletes, as well as walk around the arena to select season ticket seats. The arena is littered with signs on the seats showing fans which options are still available—and highlighting how many devoted fans have already signed up to support their team throughout the season.
One fan that feels the love and wants to spread that feeling is Zach Prater. He is a member of the Arch City Army advisory board, a group that stands and cheers throughout all three periods every single game. He emphasizes that the group supports the Blue Jackets no matter what—the Arch City Army is full of anything but fair-weather fans.
The Blue Jackets hold very special meaning to 11-year-old Tyler Woodward. He attended his first game when he was just 6 weeks old! And he was born on the day the Jackets won their very first game as a new hockey club. Tyler says he loves that the Open Houses give him the opportunity to get to know the players—because then he feels like he is cheering for a friend once the team hits the ice.
And the players feel that love right back. Players Jared Boll, Brandon Dubinksy and Derek Dorsett all took turns playing street hockey with the younger kids. And when asked why he held back against the kids—Jared jokingly admits they would probably show him up on the rink and didn’t want to embarrass himself!
But when it comes down to business, meeting the fans reminds the Jackets that the games are about more than just them. With the departure of Rick Nash, and the addition of fresh players with strong attitudes and the ability to throw some weight around on the ice, fans are optimistically hoping for a better season. Boll and Dubinksy agree that the talent level has never been the problem for the win-challenged Jackets in the past—the difference has to come from above the shoulders.
Erin Laviola is a TV news producer and a proud graduate of Ohio University Scripps School of Journalism. Come up and talk to her– her favorite thing is meeting new people and telling stories! Follow her on twitter @ErinLaviola.