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STH spotlight: Blue Jackets fan couldn't wait to get back to Nationwide

Brandyn Tinney was at every home game when the building reopened this spring

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

Throughout the 2020-21 season and offseason, BlueJackets.com is profiling season ticket holders who have become an integral part of the CBJ experience as part of the Season Ticket Holder spotlight presented by Jet's Pizza.  

Brandyn Tinney likes David Savard so much you could almost say he became the former CBJ defenseman's doppelganger. 

If you've seen a fan walking around Nationwide Arena in recent seasons -- including at every game fans could attend in the pandemic-shortened 2021 campaign -- with a beard that measured up to the usual bushy mass of facial hair sported by Savard, odds are it was Tinney. 

The season ticket holder started to grow his beard as a dare and in recent years has brought it back each season as a monument to his CBJ fandom -- and an homage to his favorite Jackets player. 

"I quit shaving when training camp starts, and then I shave the weekend after they get eliminated," Tinney said. "I grow it every year and it drives my wife nuts, especially in 2019 when we were still playing in May.  

"I wanted to outdo (Savard's) beard. It's my hockey thing." 

Just how big a fan of big No. 58 is Tinney? When the Blue Jackets sent the long-tenured defenseman to Tampa Bay at this year's trade deadline for two draft picks, the military veteran went about finding the 10-foot-by-10-foot Savard banner that hung in Nationwide Arena the past two seasons. 

The Blue Jackets ticketing department was able to track down the banner and thanks to a donation to the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, the banner now belongs to Tinney, who plans to use it as a decoration in his Williamsport home.  

"I called Shawn (Parsons), my ticket rep, and I was like, 'How do I get that banner?'" Tinney said. "I explained it to him and he was like, 'Let me look into that.' A friend of mine, Michael Nef, contacted Marty (Mulford, vice president of ticket sales and service) at almost the exact same time and was like, 'Hey, my friend is the biggest David Savard fan. What are you guys doing with that banner? Can we get it to him?' 

"Shawn and Marty ended up crossing paths and they were able to find it. It's going on one of the walls in my man cave. The man cave is wide enough to hold it, but not tall enough, so I'll have to roll about a foot of it under it." 

While Tinney's favorite player now dons Tampa Bay's blue sweater instead of the Jackets' union blue one, that didn't stop Tinney from making a point to get back in Nationwide Arena this year once fans were able to return in March. 

The Blue Jackets had 16 games fans were able to attend, and Tinney -- often accompanied by his wife Shannon or the friends he's made over the years as a fan -- was in the stands for all 16 of them.  

It was a nice return to normalcy for Tinney after the pandemic suspended the 2020 season, forced the playoffs to be played in a bubble and led to empty buildings at the start of the 2021 campaign.

"Since the kids have grown up and moved out, this is what my wife and I do," he said. "This is our thing. It was nice to finally be able to do something normal (when the arena reopened) because 41 nights a year, I'm coming home from work, I'm getting changed, we're hopping in the car and we're heading downtown.  

"Watching all the games on TV, it was like, 'I want to get back,' so as soon as they announced we could come back, I was making arrangements. I was like, 'We're going to every game.'" 

Tinney's hockey fandom has grown over the years, starting three decades ago when he received a pack of hockey trading cards for Christmas and decided to support the Calgary Flames because he liked the team's logo.  

He followed along in the newspaper and caught NHL games when they were on television -- a much harder task in the early 1990s, with cable TV just bursting onto the scene and no NHL Network or Center Ice package - then enjoyed going to Columbus Chill games when the ECHL team brought its no-holds-barred brand of the sport to the capital city in 1991. 

When the Blue Jackets came to town a few years later, he decided to invest more and more in the sport, something that has taken off the past few seasons.  

"I've been a fan since the beginning, but I was a casual fan," Tinney said. "I didn't know much about hockey. I went to at least one game every year, usually hit two, maybe three or four, but I always went to at least one every year. Then one became two, two became four, and then about four or five years ago, we were talking about doing season tickets because we had bought tickets to like 12 games. 

"I was like, 'That's a lot of money. That's a commitment.' With my daughter playing travel softball and I was coaching, it was hard to commit. Then she got older and graduated, so we were ready to buy season tickets, but I was like, 'Let's see. I don't know yet.' We ended up buying tickets to 28 of the 41 home games. I was like, 'We're buying season tickets next year. We're done doing this.'" 

The season he went to 28 games was the 2018-19 campaign when the Blue Jackets not only reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs but swept Tampa Bay for the first postseason series win in franchise history. Tinney bought tickets in the upper bowl for the 2019-20 season, then he and Shannon decided to move down to section 111, seats he didn't get to use this year because of the social distancing measures in Nationwide Arena but a new home in the arena he hopes to become quite familiar with this upcoming campaign.  

No matter where he sits, though, Tinney has a community of Blue Jackets fans with which he's become close over the years, with bonds built through social media that have started to extend into real life.  

"It's really weird because you talk to those people on Twitter for months if not years, and we all joke back and forth," Tinney said. "Some of my best friends today are people I've met through Blue Jackets Twitter of all places. Sometime soon, we're just going to get the group together and hang out." 

We appreciate the support and investment from our Blue Jackets Season Ticket Holders. If you haven't yet renewed your season ticket package for the 2020-21 season, you can do that by clicking renew. If you have any questions, please contact your Account Specialist, our ticket office at 614-246-3350, via e-mail at ticketsales@bluejackets.com or chat with us HERE. We look forward to seeing you back at Nationwide Arena this October! 

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