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"Cannon love" warms the Blue Jackets' hearts

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Don’t think for a second that some of the Blue Jackets didn’t notice the hockey world’s love affair with the replica 1857 Napoleon field cannon that sits atop section 111 inside Nationwide Arena.

The term “love affair” is used loosely, of course, but the cannon was a hot topic throughout All-Star Weekend in Columbus. Fans from out of town were lining up for photos, but, media, broadcasters and players who have become familiar with its signature BOOM were reminded why they don’t like it – which puts a smile on the faces of those who play for the hometown team.

It’s an obvious reason for disdain: if the cannon’s going off, the Blue Jackets are most likely scoring goals and winning games, which makes the celebration a double-whammy of horror for the opposing team. First, you’ve surrendered a goal or lost the game and then you have to deal with the combination of AC/DC and the cannon’s audible confirmation of the goal.

The Blue Jackets wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s a good thing,” said Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll. “I don’t want them to like it. I hate going into Nashville and hearing that Tim McGraw song every time they score, so it’s the same kind of thing.

“We love the cannon, and obviously, we don’t mind if opposing teams and fans don’t like it. It means we’re doing something right.”

Boll’s dislike for the Predators’ goal celebration comes with good reason: after an Apr. 3, 2006 win at Bridgestone Arena, the Blue Jackets – who were in Nashville’s division until realignment took effect in 2013-14 – went winless in the Music City until November 2011. In other words, he’s heard a lot of Tim McGraw.

Artem Anisimov joined the Blue Jackets in 2012 as part of the Rick Nash trade, and his first game as a Blue Jacket at Nationwide Arena came after no training camp or preseason due to the lockout. He’s not afraid to admit that it took him a while to get used to the cannon, but now, he’s a big fan.

“At first, I was scared of it,” Anisimov said. “But it’s a good thing when you hear the cannon, so I like it.”

There were 29 goals scored in the All-Star Game – 12 of them celebrated by cannon fire for Team Foligno – which gave the media at least 12 opportunities to shower their love for the cannon on Twitter. But no reaction was better than that of Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau, who almost hit the deck after the cannon fired following team introductions at the Skills Competition.

“That was, by far, the best one I can remember,” said Nick Foligno. “He literally almost fell over he was so scared.”

When asked if he got a lot of feedback on the cannon during All-Star Weekend, Foligno could only laugh and shake his head.

“Well after that many goals (in the All-Star Game), you can imagine there was some frustration. Some guys said they had headaches,” Foligno said. “The best part is hearing all the guys say ‘I hate that damn cannon.’ That makes us feel really good.

“I’m glad they don’t like it. Knowing that (opponents) don’t like it makes us want to set that thing off many more times in the future.”

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