COLUMBUS, OHIO – When the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrate the 2008-09 home opener with a contest against division rival Nashville Predators on Friday, October 17, festivities will be highlighted by a tribute to team founder John H. McConnell. Doors will open early at 5:30 p.m., rather than the usual 6 p.m. entry. The pre-game ceremonies will begin promptly at 6:45 p.m. and lead into the puck drop after 7 p.m.
All fans in attendance will receive a special John H. McConnell hat, featuring the JHM patch that will be worn by the players throughout the season. In addition, all season ticket holders will receive a special Blue Jackets Season Ticket Holder lanyard, courtesy of Nationwide, and are invited to exclusive "red carpet" entrances complete with photo opportunities on both McConnell St. and Front St. prior to the game.
Upon entering the arena's main concourse near Front St., fans will notice the 44' by 23' banner featuring Mr. McConnell in a replication of the 2008-09 opening night ticket. Beneath the expansive banner is "It Began with a Vision," the new history exhibit that chronicles the life and philanthropic legacy of Mr. McConnell.
During the pre-game ceremonies, the entire ice surface will serve as a dynamic video backdrop for the program which begins with the tribute to Mr. McConnell. In addition to a video presentation honoring his innumerable contributions to the community, fans will participate in a salute to Mr. McConnell as a memorial banner is raised to the rafters of Nationwide Arena where it will remain permanently.
The tribute will be followed by the traditional opening night player introductions featuring the debut of a new team entrance song selected by captain Rick Nash. The introduction of the song will mark the beginning of a new tradition in which the team captain chooses the song to be played when the home team takes the ice. The team’s original entrance anthem, "Machinehead," will still be incorporated during each game, but will be presented in conjunction with a different element of the Blue Jackets game experience.
Also before the game, Blue Jackets' AM flagship station WBNS-AM 1460 The Fan will broadcast "The Big Show" live from the Blue Jackets Pub at Nationwide Arena starting at 4 p.m. Fans with a ticket to the game may enter the pub from the west plaza.
Tickets for Blue Jackets games, including the October 17 home opener, are on sale now at the Nationwide Arena Ticket Office, FOX Sports Ohio Blue Line at The Mall at Tuttle Crossing, The Chiller Ice Rinks and all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers. Fans can purchase tickets by phone at (614) 431-3600 or online at www.BlueJackets.com and www.ticketmaster.com. For information on season tickets, mini-plans or group tickets, call (614) 246-PUCK or 800-NHL-COLS.