Fan Appreciation Night is always a special night for the Blue Jackets, but most importantly, it is to recognize passionate fans, their dedication and support throughout the National Hockey League season.
The 11th such night in franchise history took place last night at Nationwide Arena, as the Blue Jackets put on a show for the 17,652 in attendance – scoring seven goals and rolling to a 7-3 victory over the New York Islanders. As much fun as it was for the fans to see the team conclude its year by winning five of the last six games, the Fan Appreciation Night festivities started well before the puck dropped on regular season game No. 82.
As fans entered the arena for the game, Blue Jackets players not in uniform were stationed at entrances to the arena to welcome fans into the building. Some were handing out free “Carry The Flag” T-shirts that were provided by FOX Sports Ohio, and thanking fans for their support.
The team held two “Jerseys Off Their Backs” promotions – first, a random drawing for all in attendance that selected winners by seat number. Blue Jackets players also helped in delivering the jerseys to the winners, providing memorable experiences for the lucky fans who got to take the keepsakes home. Marc Methot, John Moore, Derek MacKenzie, Curtis Sanford and Allen York were among the Columbus players traveling throughout the arena to meet fans and personally thank them.
Both dasher boards at center ice of Nationwide Arena were adorned with “Thank You Fans,” a gesture to show gratitude to what captain Rick Nash referred to as “the most loyal, patient fans in the league.” With game time approaching, Blue Jackets season ticket holders were escorted down to the walkway leading into the Zamboni tunnel, where they formed one last “Tunnel Of Pride” and ushered the team on the ice just prior to the drop of the puck.
In an event that has become customary for the Blue Jackets’ core social media community, fans who interact regularly on Twitter joined at the cannon outside section 111 for their TweetUp. Elaine Shircliff, a Blue Jackets fan who was born in Chicago, experienced her first Fan Appreciation Night tonight and enjoyed getting to meet many of the Blue Jackets tweeting family.
“It’s been such a great experience, and I think meeting these cool people has made it better,” Shircliff said. “I’m really impressed right now because they have so much to offer everyone, and it’s all around the arena.”
Every fan will have different memories from this season, but Shircliff’s was both unique and funny: during the TweetUp Night sponsored by Papa John’s on Feb. 12, part of the evening was a post-game meet-and-greet with James Wisniewski - one of the active Blue Jackets players on Twitter.
“He has been one of my favorites since he played for Chicago, especially since I was born there,” Shircliff said. “At the TweetUp, he took his teeth out for me and it was awesome. That’s definitely one of my top memories from this season.”
The FOX Sports Ohio Blueline, along with all team merchandise retailers, offered a special 20 percent discount on all items for Fan Appreciation Night. And after the cannon sounded on the team’s 29th and final victory of the season, the lucky recipients of the players’ jerseys headed on the ice to meet the team and take home the game-worn sweaters.
The Blue Jackets would like to thank all of our fans for their unwavering support and passion for the team. Go Jackets!