With the Columbus Blue Jackets scheduled to play a home game again Friday night, Shane Guilfoyle will be checking his Twitter feed early and often.
He won’t be looking for lineups or other news.
Instead, he’ll be anticipating the latest creation of team graphic designer Anthony Zych.
A few hours before each home game (except the first), Zych has released — via the Blue Jackets page on Twitter — a commemorative poster showcasing the impending matchup.
He varies the tone and style of his digital offerings, whether he takes a slight jab at an opponent’s mascot, uses pop-culture references or reflects historical ties between the teams.
“I really do look forward to seeing them,” said Guilfoyle, 30, of Canal Winchester. “I reached out to Anthony on Twitter and asked him, ‘You’re going to keep making these, right?’ ”
That’s the plan.
With 33 home games left and each poster calling for six to eight hours on top of his regular job, Zych knows he’ll be working some late nights and weekends.
Yet he has been buoyed by the growing fan reaction to his artwork. Plus, the posters have served as a bright spot in a season that started dreadfully (but seems to be turning around).
The poster for the St. Louis game on Tuesday depicted Leo Welsh, the team’s national-anthem singer, wearing a suit, sunglasses and a top hat — a la one of the Blues Brothers — and holding a microphone.
Above the artwork, Zych typed: “One Night Only! Mr. Leo Welsh and the Sensational 5th Line Band!”
“Very cool,” one fan responded to the afternoon post.
“Best one yet,” said another.
A poster designed with a concert bill in mind, Zych figured, would fittingly capture the spirit of the matchup with the Blues.
“This tells a story,” he said.
To date, the posters exist only digitally — as something to enjoy via social media or the Blue Jackets website, said Jeff Eldersveld, the team’s director of digital marketing.
On Friday night, however, several winners of an online contest (which ended on Thursday) will be awarded printed copies of the Nashville game poster.
The project originated from both the Columbus marketing team’s quest for new ways to interact with fans and Zych’s own doodling.
“We have an environment where we’re very collaborative, both from within and with our fans,” Eldersveld said.
Each time a new poster is released on Twitter, the post is typically retweeted and “liked” several hundred times.
Even the Canadian media company Sportsnet has noticed, tweeting on Wednesday: “The new best thing in hockey has to be @BlueJackets NHL game-day posters.”
The biggest criticism to date: Why aren’t the posters being sold?
“I would literally buy every single one of them,” said Guilfoyle, the Canal Winchester fan.
“I have a hockey-themed basement.”
Sales are “probably a couple of steps down the road,” Eldersveld said.
For now, Zych said, fans will have to settle for the posters giving a spark to the team.
The poster for the game on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes — inspired by Looney Tunes cartoons — featured a coyote chasing a bug-sized Stinger.
“The coyote never could catch the Road Runner,” Zych said, “and I think Stinger is a bit harder to catch.
“We got a nice win out of it.”
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