If you're looking for someone to credit for the Blue Jackets' sweep of Tampa Bay in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, look no further than David Baker.
With the Blue Jackets trailing early in Game 1, the president of the Jacket Backers fan club remembered he had left a jersey in his car and decided it was time to put it on. It certainly stood out, as it was a Kevin Stenlund game-worn, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed jersey that the Blue Jackets prospect had donned earlier this year as a member of the Cleveland Monsters.
Of course, we know what happened next. Columbus raced back to win Game 1 and used the momentum to complete the sweep of the Presidents' Trophy winner.
Video: It was a historic night at Nationwide Arena
Some say a butterfly flapping its wings can impact things that happen half a world away, so maybe Baker's wardrobe change was the key moment that changed things for the Blue Jackets on the way to the franchise's first-ever playoff series win.
Then again, maybe not, but Baker's not going to chance it. He wore the Stenlund jersey for Games 2, 3 and 4 and has no plans to change when the second round begins.
"It is now undefeated and I will wear it until we lose," Baker said.
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Or maybe you can thank Carter Smith, a Blue Jackets fan who underwent a similar change, shedding his Seth Jones jersey after period one of Game 1 for a different CBJ sweater he wore for the rest of the series. Or how about Jude Warner, who ditched his jersey and changed his hat at the same time and wore the same clothing the rest of the way.
There are, assuredly, other Blue Jackets fans who changed shirts, moved across the room, or ate a certain food either before or during Game 1 and will keep things going as long as they have to if it helps Columbus rack up wins.
Blue Jackets fans might not be superstitious, but they are a *little* stitious. From those who wore the same clothes for every game of the series to some who chose to honor the history of the franchise in Game 4, Blue Jackets fans took their fashion very seriously during the round one victory.
After all, any sports fan knows a shirt can be more than just a shirt. What a fan wears to a game can be a deeply important personal decision, as the wardrobe choice can mean anything from good luck to a fashion statement to a nod to a favorite player.
For Zach List, it was a little bit of everything in Game 4. List attended the pivotal contest in a Geoff Sanderson jersey, honoring one of the original Blue Jackets, with the sweater complete with the neon green Stinger shoulder patches and contrasting white stripes in the body. List owns about 30 jerseys but that jersey spoke to him in this situation, especially after he wore it for Game 1.
"For the first game, I went out and did some errands that day and wore this jersey out and about," List said on the Nationwide Arena concourse Tuesday night. "They came back from 3-0 down and I was like, 'All right.' Friday, Game 2, I wore it for that day just because of luck. Wore it again Sunday, they won again, so I'm wearing it again today because I'm going for four.
"It's the original jersey, Stinger, Geoff Sanderson. It's cool to wear the old stuff."
When it comes to history, though, no fan wore a more significant piece of clothing to Game 4 than Charles Cordle. He might have looked like any of the other fans in Nationwide Arena wearing a union blue jersey featuring Nick Foligno's No. 71, but the sweater is actually a piece of Blue Jackets history.
The jersey is the one Foligno was wearing in 2014 when he scored the overtime goal in Game 4 of the Jackets' first-round series with Pittsburgh for the franchise's first-ever home playoff game win. The piece of history ended up in the hands of the jersey collector when he bought it from the team shop after the season, so it seemed like the perfect thing to wear to the first-ever series clincher five years later.
"I have worn the jersey before, but mostly for special occasions," Cordle said. "For example, I wore it this year to the first game of Foligno's return from personal leave while his son was in the hospital. I decided to wear this jersey to Game 4 because I knew Blue Jackets playoff history was going to be made that night and felt that piece of history should be in the building for it."
If Cordle blended in, others stood out. Perhaps the most noticeable fan in Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night -- well, other than those who figured out creative, fashionable ways to circumvent the arena's no-broom policy -- was Jas Chaffin. The longtime Blue Jackets fan could be easily spotted wearing a white bathrobe with Mike Commodore's name and number sewn on.
Fans of a certain age won't need the reference explained, but the former Blue Jackets defenseman was a noted bathrobe aficionado, prompting Chaffin to purchase the robe to support the team during the franchise's first playoff appearance in 2009 when Commodore was a stay-at-home blueliner for the team.
Chaffin then got it customized with Commodore's nameplate and his No. 22 at the Blue Line shop years ago, and he decided to bring the robe out of the recesses of his closet for Game 4 because it took place on the 10-year anniversary of the Blue Jackets' first playoff game.
"I thought, 'Game 4, big game, bust out something wacky,'" said Chaffin, who was complimented on the threads before the game by Jared Boll. "This thing probably hasn't been worn since 2009 or 2010. People love it, but I've gotten a couple of confused looks."
And if you thought you saw someone walking around Nationwide in pajama pants for Game 4, you probably did. Matt Borges had to ice a sore knee while watching Game 1 at home, so he just happened to throw on a pair of Christmas-themed pajama pants.
Of course, after the Jackets won, he had to wear them again for the Game 2 victory. Then when the series flipped back to Columbus for Game 3, Borges wore the Santa hat-spotted clothing to the game -- but put the pajamas on under a more socially acceptable pair of pants. For Game 4, he threw sartorial caution to the wind -- the pajama pants were on full display, and Borges witnessed history.
"There won't be another Jackets contest I don't wear them to watch, at home, at Nationwide, or wherever else this journey may lead," he said. "You're welcome, CBJ fans."
Examples of superstition didn't end there. Alexis Gentile, a fan who drive down from the Detroit area, brought her lucky four-leaf clovers with her to Game 4 and still hasn't seen a loss in Nationwide Arena. Dave Gauthier, better known as Cannon Crew Dave, wears the same undershirt to work for each game until the Jackets lose; his current lucky gameday undershirt hasn't been washed since March 3 ("Luckily, I'm not much of a sweater," he assures). Kevin McChesney's superstition filtered all the way down from wearing the same clothing for each game to ordering the same food at the same Arena District restaurant at the exact same time before Games 3 and 4.
Enjoy the second round, Blue Jackets fans. You've earned it. Now be sure to dress for the occasion.