For Blue Jackets fans, this weekend's Dublin Irish Festival is going to be an experience unlike any other. The National Hockey League is bringing the NHL Fan Arena to the festival as part of their NHL Centennial celebration. To make the weekend even better, we have question and answer sessions planned with former and prospective players, giveaways, visits from Stinger and much more. There is going to be lots of great things to do this weekend, but here are the top five things we're excited to check out.
5. Diversity and inclusion grant
The NHL is granting $5,000 to a hockey organization in each city that focuses on diversity and inclusion. The Columbus Ice Hockey Club is the recipient from Columbus for their great work in making every young player feel welcome. Corbin is one of the many children who has been able to find a love of hockey thanks to the organization; you can check out his story here. The grant ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, so don't miss out on your chance to get your feel-good vibes for the day!
This weekend's Irish Festival is truly going to be an event for all ages. One of the aspects we can't wait to check out is the Virtual Reality Zamboni Experience. Fans will race to resurface the ice and compete against other people's scores from across the NHL Centennial tour. It'll be a bumpy ride, too, so get ready. In addition, there will be a slapshot station to try and appearances from Stinger on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so there is plenty for the kids!
3. NHL Museum
The museum is the main point of attraction that the League has been bringing to all of the NHL cities. It features examples of the evolution of hockey equipment, the history of each host city's team, equipment from stars like Wayne Gretzky and more. Blue Jackets fans will even get their first in-person look at team's new jerseys! Even though this museum set up is temporary, it is very extensive and definitely one of the highlights of the festival.
2. Prospects & Alumni
Do you like getting autographs and hearing from CBJ players? Then we've got plenty for you this weekend. On Friday, former Blue Jackets Andrew Cassels and Pascal Leclaire will be signing autographs. On Saturday, you'll hear from Pascal Leclaire when he sits down with Bob McElligott. Also on Saturday, don't miss Blue Jackets prospects Kole Sherwood and Carson Meyer when they sit down with McElligiott. Sherwood and Meyer are both products of the Jackets development system and are now pursuing their dreams of becoming members of the team since being recently drafted. And it doesn't stop there. On Sunday, fans can listen to a question and answer with former players Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre and Dan Fritsche. They'll even stick around for autographs, too. Check out the full schedule for these sessions here..
Now, for what we're most excited for this weekend: the hardware. On Friday and Saturday, fans can see Lord Stanley up close and personal. Also on Saturday is a question and answer session with the keeper of the Cup, Phil Pritchard. Wherever the cup goes, so goes Pritchard, so he without a doubt has some great stories to share. On Sunday, fans get to see the awards the Blue Jackets won at the NHL Awards Ceremony and Expansion Draft in June. Nick Foligno's King Clancy and Mark Messier awards, John Tortorella's Jack Adams Award and Sergei Bobrovsky's Vezina trophy will all be there. This is the first time these trophies will be made available for the 5th Line, so you don't want to miss out on snapping photos of these beauties.
BONUS: We'll be giving out prizes all weekend, too! Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to maximize your chances to win signed Blue Jackets gear.