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Kekalainen, Jenner speak to new season ticket holders at special event

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

It will be a while before anyone forgets the palpable buzz that surrounded the Blue Jackets’ playoff run this spring.

The energy and excitement both inside Nationwide Arena and around town made for quite the experience, and with 19,000-plus packed inside and ready to explode with each goal scored, fans were treated to one of the best atmospheres this town has seen.

The Blue Jackets season ticket base has been steadily growing over the past two years, and when John Davidson came aboard in October of 2012, he was up-front and honest with fans about how he wanted to build the team. While he said that he could not promise much, Davidson’s vision for the franchise has become clearer and clearer and fans are buying in.

As one might expect, interest in Blue Jackets season ticket plans increased down the stretch in 2013-14 and into the playoffs.

The organization hosted a group of fans who had shown interest in a ticket plan earlier this week at Nationwide Arena, where they took a tour of potential seat locations and also heard from GM Jarmo Kekalainen and forward Boone Jenner, who just completed a terrific rookie season in the National Hockey League.

Tony Campagna, a Blue Jackets fan who attended the event with his wife Sharon, purchased a half-season plan at the event. He said the excitement of last season, the playoffs and all that surrounded it has him anxiously awaiting the coming season, and that was a big reason why he opted to purchase a plan during the event.

"Let me just say that the event was wonderful, and it was really first-rate all the way," Campagna said. "The set up was great: the food, the bar, the conversation with staff...my wife and I had a great time.

"The discussion was fairly open (with Kekalainen and Jenner) and there were plenty of interesting questions being asked. I'm hyped, I'm excited. This season was so exciting, so much fun and I can't wait for the next one. This was a fantastic event and even my wife - who isn't the biggest hockey fan - mentioned how much she enjoyed it."

Fans asked questions ranging from how to get out to a better start, what kind of additions Kekalainen may be looking to make, and the progress of some of the organization’s prospects (two of which are currently competing in the Memorial Cup).

The message from Kekalainen was clear: this year was fun, exciting and a positive step forward…but he has much bigger and brighter visions for the Blue Jackets’ future.

“We want to win in the playoffs – we want to win the Stanley Cup,” Kekalainen told the group. “It’s a different ballgame in the playoffs, and it’s more demanding and that’s when you want to see all your players at their best. It’s another level of a test for everyone in our organization, and we want players who are at their best when it really counts. We found out a lot about our team during the regular season, too, and we saw how tight (the standings) can be.

“We have to have a better start. We have to be more prepared in every way. All of these different things combined with strength and conditioning…all these things have to fall in place and be ready to go right from the first game of the season. I don’t think it’s bad luck or laziness, but we have to make sure we’re prepared to play the first game just as we were to play the 82nd game of the regular season.”

Jenner talked about the ups and downs of his rookie season, what it was like to compete in the playoffs, and then mingled with fans who stuck around to purchase ticket plans.

Overall, it was one of the most successful new season ticket events of the year for the Blue Jackets. The organization is planning to host similar events throughout the summer, and if you’d like more information on how you can become a season ticket holder and to learn more about exclusive benefits available to STHs, you can reach the team’s ticketing department at 614-246-PUCK.

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