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Money on the Board

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Like many fans leaving Nationwide Arena after Tuesday's loss to Phoenix, Tyler Schweinfurth was dejected.

He sat and watched nervously as the Blue Jackets built a pair of two-goal leads, lost the leads and eventually the game to the Coyotes.

With his favorite team mired in a five-game winless skid, Schweinfurth, felt compelled to try and change the momentum and started thinking once he arrived home in Dublin.

The 25-year-old season-ticket holder thought back to what hockey players do when a game means a lot to them: they put money on the board. When players are facing former teams (coaches, too), a sum of money is pledged to the player who scores the game-deciding tally.

Then, he went to work for his team and asked fellow fans for help.

"I saw good things out of the team (against Phoenix)," Schweinfurth said. "I thought there had to be a way for the fans to do something - especially to beat Detroit. We want to see a win against that team."

He took to Twitter and got support from Lori Schmidt, sports reporter for 97.1 FM The Fan in Columbus. Schmidt helped Schweinfurth keep track of pledges from fans on Twitter, and it reminded him of a similar effort last year.

With the team struggling a year ago, he tried to drum up support to pledge money for a win against the same Red Wings. The Blue Jackets delivered a 1-0 overtime win in front of a sold-out crowd on Dec. 28, 2009 - thanks to Fredrik Modin's rebound in the extra session.

"Everything reminded me of that moment. Last year, we randomly put money on the board," he said. "But this blew up way more than I expected."

As of Wednesday night, the Twitter hash-tag "#MoneyOnTheBoard" has been re-Tweeted by hundreds of Blue Jackets fans, media members and staff. Over 66 businesses, organizations, fans, couples and families have pledged money to the cause.

To this point, more than $1,705 has been "put on the board" for a Blue Jackets victory. At least $2,000 has been pledged for a combination of events including shutouts, fights and hat tricks.

It has dominated the conversation among Blue Jackets fans on Twitter, and Schmidt herself Tweeted that Schweinfurth (Twitter handle @bigtrulz03) deserves "major, major props."

"We did this last year to get out of a bad stretch," he explained. "This year, I think these two games are very important. If we can get a win against Detroit, it can pull everyone together."

Blue Jackets players have taken notice of the fans' unique effort.

"I give fans all the credit in the world," forward R.J. Umberger told Schmidt after the team's Wednesday practice at the Dispatch Ice Haus.

"They want to beat Detroit bad and we want to, too."

Schweinfurth was appreciative and pleasantly surprised to see that the players acknowledged the pledges. In fact, it meant more than that.

"It gave me chills," he said of Umberger's comments. "That was very cool.

"All I wanted was the team to know that we're all behind them."

Blue Jackets fans all over Twitter praised Schweinfurth for the creative effort and thinking of a different way to show support.

And when the final list of pledges is posted in the dressing room Friday night, the Blue Jackets will be reminded of that fact every time they enter the room.

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