Throughout the Blue Jackets' 20th anniversary celebration, BlueJackets.com will be profiling season ticket holders who have become an integral part of the CBJ experience as part of the Season Ticket Holder spotlight presented by Jet's Pizza.
As an avid Blue Jackets fan, the timing works out for Dennis Grose when he heads to the Beartooth Mountains in Wyoming for a couple of months each summer to fly fish, ride his motorcycle, camp and otherwise enjoy the Great Outdoors.
But last summer provided a unique situation for the Plain City resident. With the COVID-19 pandemic pausing the NHL season in March, the Stanley Cup Playoffs didn't kick off until August.
That's squarely the time frame when Grose was enjoying his cabin and campsite in the Wyoming wilderness, an area just outside of Cody where internet and TV reception isn't at its greatest.
Determined not to miss any of the action, Grose improvised a solution.
"I have SiriusXM on my Jeep, and I pulled the Jeep up next to the campfire, put the radio on, put the windows down, made it real loud," he said. "I had my Blue Jackets jersey on, and I sat by the campfire and got to listen to them beat Toronto."
Surely, the sight of a Blue Jackets fan celebrating a big victory around a campfire thousands of miles away from Columbus stood out, but Grose's friends and acquaintances in the Cowboy State came around.
"Everybody says, 'What is that?'" of his jersey, Grose said. "But then I think I have to say my enthusiasm for wanting to listen to it and getting involved in the games, by the end of the playoffs, I had a couple of converts."
One thing Grose is sure to point out, though, is that no matter where the consummate traveler and outdoorsman goes -- whether it be a camping trip in Texas in the dead of winter or a visit to Edmonton in the spring -- he finds hockey fans and in particular Blue Jackets fans.
But some of his favorites are names like Glen Hochstetler, Brett and Vicki Jaffe, and Steve Simpson, friends he's made over the years through his Blue Jackets fandom. In fact, Grose -- a native of Cheshire, Ohio, along the Ohio River who became a hockey fan thanks to radio broadcasts of Boston and Pittsburgh games when he was in college in the 1970s -- first started attending games with Hochstetler before eventually becoming a season ticket holder in section C-4 in 2013.
Those are the people who have helped make being a season ticket holder a community affair, along with Grose's family including wife Jan, their three children and grandchildren.
"Most of the memories that I have about the Jackets have to do with the friends and family that I've taken to games," said Grose, who is retired from his job at Miller Cabinet Co. in Plain City. "From a family standpoint, I was fortunate in the fact that I was able to take my kids and grandkids and family and everybody to a game. There's a lot of memories when I've been able to share the experience with families and friends."
Of course, there are certain experiences in Nationwide Arena that stick out. The New Year's Eve games are always fun, especially when Zach Werenski scores a hat trick, as he did in the 2019 NYE game vs. Florida. Grose said he still has a hard time believing he was there when the Blue Jackets beat Montreal by a 10-0 score in 2016.
But no matter whether the Blue Jackets are winning or losing, he's always appreciative of the effort the players and coaches give on a nightly basis.
"The one thing that comes through and makes it enjoyable is the fact I just really appreciate the effort that the players put into it," he said. "I also enjoy the coaching, the announcing, but the players, the speed of the game, the effort they put into it and their dedication to the game - they have peaks and valleys, but the ones that are having a downer of a day, it's nice to see them come back from it."
As such, you'll likely see Grose around Nationwide Arena in a Blue Jackets jersey, but don't expect it to have a name on the back. For this season ticket holder, picking out a favorite player is a difficult task.
"Each year, I get a new jersey," he said. "I keep asking myself whose name am I going to get on the jersey. But I have to say, I like them all, and I appreciate all of them no matter where they're at on the roster. I can't decide, so I always end up getting a new jersey without a name on it. I don't want to offend the ones that I don't get the name on the jersey!"
But he does admit he has a few favorites -- members of the CBJ broadcast crews like radio voice Bob McElligott and TV announcers Jeff Rimer, Jody Shelley, Dave Maetzold, Brain Giesenschlag and Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre.
When he's taking part in his travels all across North America, the one constant is Grose does whatever he can to stay up to date on the Blue Jackets. Even if he has to pull the Jeep up to the campfire to do it, you can count on Grose to be checking in on the CBJ wherever he roams.
"The announcers really make a huge difference," said Grose. "That's one of the things that is very great that I really appreciate now. They do a great job in what they do, and it really adds a lot. In particular, when I'm on the road and get to listen to them, it's like hearing a voice from home."