Many of the regular habitants on the grounds of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have started their hibernation period. But last night at an event exclusively for Blue Jackets PSL holders, the setting was alive and well.
This event is typically one of the most well-attended throughout the year and the tradition continued with a spectacular turnout last night. It’s not the only event put on by the Blue Jackets organization that gets bigger and better every year, but several fans commented that this year’s edition was their favorite to date.
The Blue Jackets’ full roster was in attendance for an evening filled with interactivity, autographs and some humor – albeit intentional or unintentional. Players made a grand entrance from either side of the dais to the tune of their 2011-12 entrance music, and were introduced one-by-one with public address announcer Greg Murray doing the honors.
Fox Sports Ohio play-by-play broadcaster Jeff Rimer kicked off the on-stage portion of the event by asking questions of a handful of the Blue Jackets players, including center Derick Brassard and team captain Rick Nash. They covered topics such as training camp and how the team bonded on their recent trip to Miami (Ohio) University, how the players spent their offseason and expectations heading into this highly-anticipated NHL season.
The highlight of the on-stage events was the “Team Mating Game,” a new and unique form of question-and-answer session hosted by Murray and in-arena host Mike Todd. Three pairs of Blue Jackets players – Steve Mason/R.J. Umberger, Rick Nash/Aaron Johnson and Kris Russell/Derek Dorsett were asked questions about one another to see which player knew his partner the best.
Russell and Dorsett stole the show with their quick wit and it was topped off with a subtle jab from Dorsett, albeit at his partner’s expense.
Murray asked Russell: “What did Derek say is your most embarrassing on-ice moment?”
After thinking it over briefly, Russell replied: “Probably scoring into my own net.”
The first answer brought a round of laughs from the full house of PSL holders, but the next was even better.
Dorsett was asked what he listed as Russell’s most embarrassing moment: “Probably getting beat up by his twin brother.” That happened back in junior hockey, when Kris played for the Medicine Hat Tigers and twin Ryan was a member of the Kootenay Ice in the Western Hockey League.
Though they technically didn’t cash in on that question, they ended up taking first place overall – closely beating out Umberger and Mason, who showed off their knowledge of each other’s habits, texting during dinner (Mason) and occasional snoring (Umberger).
PSL holders in attendance were also treated to dinner and drinks, as well as a full-team autograph session. The autographs took place only after the on-stage portion concluded with a raffle and head coach Scott Arniel addressing the crowd, offering his view of the hockey club before opening night against the Nashville Predators.
"Based on our surveys and the informal feedback we receive from our PSL Holders, the event at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is one of the most anticipated and valued benefits that our PSL holders receive each year," Chief Marking Officer John Browne said. "It's a great way to start the season, introduce the team and most importantly, to show our gratitude to the people that are truly the lifeblood of our organization."
The Blue Jackets thank all of the PSL holders who attended last night’s event and contributed to another extremely successful evening.
**If you have photos of your own from the event, you can submit them HERE