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Cannon blast puts Blue Jackets' goal celebrations back in spotlight

Viral moment concocted by member of Cannon Crew

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

As fans flooded through the doors of Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night, many did what many do on every Blue Jackets game night - headed to the top of section 111 to get their picture taken with the ear-rattling replica Civil War cannon that celebrates each Columbus goal. 

There, they were greeted by Kyle Arnott, who did what he does each night -- inform fans about the history of the cannon and go through the rules of each picture (no touching the barrel, in particular). 

But for once, many of the fans had a question of their own for the 23-year-old member of the Blue Jackets Cannon Crew. 

Are you the guy? 

And the answer was yes. 

Arnott is the guy - the guy whose picture-perfect celebration of the Blue Jackets' third goal last Saturday night against Pittsburgh went viral. 

Tweet from @FOXSportsOH: .@OBjorkstrand tips in the shot from @Ryandzingel to push the #CBJ lead to 3-1 with under three minutes remaining in the third period. pic.twitter.com/FAbhJ6LVq6

As the cannon went off following Oliver Bjorkstrand's game-sealing tally, Arnott mimicked being blasted by the cannon, flying through the air and landing on his backside in a moment captured by Fox Sports Ohio cameras. The celebration drew attention across the hockey world and beyond, with even CBJ captain Nick Foligno tweeting the video while calling it it the "greatest thing I've seen in a while." 

For Arnott, it was a moment to remember, but here's where you might be surprised. Given the expert timing and staging, you'd think the moment had to be rehearsed, staged or otherwise perfected.  

But that's not the case.  

"I didn't plan it," he said. "This one, I was just like, 'I'm going to step up and do this thing.' I'm proud of myself for the execution. I didn't die, but it looked like I did. I'm happy with it." 

The Cannon Crew and members of the Papa John's Goal Patrol have been celebrating Jackets goals in style for years, with their shenanigans captured by the FSO camera strapped to the railing that the TV network cuts to after each Jackets goal to show the blast. 

From choreographed dances to posed photos to one member last year shoveling bread into his face after an Artemi Panarin goal -- OK, that was Arnott, too -- the background of the cannon blast is a blank canvas Arnott and his fellow members of the promotions teams have been more than happy to fill. 

But this celebration stood out among some other classics, and it was born of Arnott's dedication to the show. A former member of the Marching 110 band at Ohio University as well as a participant in high school theater, Arnott has some ham in him, not to mention knowledge of how to make things work on a stage. 

For example, for this celebration, the key was to execute a pratfall that not only looked realistic but didn't result in bodily harm upon landing. Consider both objectives satisfied. 

"I'm used to throwing my body around for the show," he said. "It surprisingly didn't hurt. I was really happy. Someone mentioned that was an A-plus pratfall. I remembered rule No. 1 about a good pratfall is landing on your butt. I was watching it and was like, 'Wow, I landed pretty well.'" 

The reaction since has been impressive. It's a moment that seemingly was born for Twitter and Instagram, and pages across the internet have picked up the video. (Also amusing: The celebration after the Jackets' first goal Tuesday, in which Arnott was revived from the cannon fire.)

Video: BOS@CBJ: Anderson speeds past defender and scores

"I expected I guess a few friends of mine would see it," Arnott said. "Then it hit Twitter. I was rewatching it and I was like, 'Dang, that turned out well.' Then I had more and more people adding me on Twitter. It kept snowballing from there.  

"I think of all the reactions I saw, Nick was the one that got me the most excited, but there was one of those generic NHL meme pages on Instagram and someone tagged me. CM Punk was in the comments and the caption of course was like 'Cannon destroys a man,' and CM Punk commented, 'About time.' I was like, 'Oh my god, CM Punk saw me die.' That's great. That's the most surprising one." 

The Cannon Crew has eight members each season, with four working each game to help make the atmosphere in Nationwide Arena one of the best in the league. From taking photos of fans with the cannon to helping the promo crews throughout the game, they play a key game-day role, but the celebrations with the cannon are like an inside joke that helped broaden the audience and make the game more enjoyable for fans at home.  

"It's this weird balance of we want it to be a thing, we're very proud of this thing, but we don't want to make it a thing," Arnott said. "It's kind of like a wink and a nod to fans." 

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