It’s a special event for Blue Jackets season ticket holders when it arrives each year, and an opportunity for the organization and its players to interact with their fans. Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Night took place Thursday night at Nationwide Arena, and the nearly three-hour event saw fans of all ages coming together to celebrate their favorite team.
The doors opened just before 6 p.m. and approximately 2,000 fans took part in the event, which featured autograph signings, video games with players, a bounce house for the youngsters and most importantly, the chance to hang out on the Nationwide Arena ice surface.
Fans were able to pass and shoot pucks with their favorite Blue Jacket players and maybe even get some tips on how to improve their skills.
Blue Jackets television play-by-play voice Jeff Rimer and color analyst Bill Davidge gave exclusive tours of the Blue Jackets locker room and training facilities throughout the evening, enabling fans to get an up-close-and-personal look at how the players arrive for work every day. It was a neat “day in the life” look at where the players hang out when they’re at the rink.
“We got autographs, did the pass-and-shoot thing and met a lot of the players,” said Ryan Pitt, an avid Blue Jackets fan. “I wanted to do the pass-and-shoot and it was really fun. I like (R.J.) Umberger and I got his autograph on my jersey, too.”
In addition, all fans were able to skate on the main ice surface, take pictures and go for a twirl on the same rink used by the best hockey players in the world. The entire Blue Jackets team was in attendance for the event and did two separate autographs sessions, beginning at 6:15 and 7:30 p.m. respectively.
“Getting to meet the players up close like that was great,” said Keith Languell, a big fan and season ticket holder. “One of the neatest things was my grandson played street hockey with Steve Mason, Ryan Johansen and Colton Gillies. I liked to meet-and-greet them up close, you see them at games, but you see how they’re normal human beings and talk to you like they’ve known you forever.
“I like them all… Dorsett was a favorite and Boll – he’s a comedian! I liked to see what it was like behind the scenes and how it is down there.”