The first Front St. Friday of 2014 is in the books, but not without a plethora of fans showing their support following the Blue Jackets on a moderately-cool day outside Nationwide Arena.
Jackets center Derek MacKenzie was on hand for the event, joining host Bob McElligott and answering fans’ questions on #CBJin30, as well as signing autographs for fans in the Front St. plaza for over an hour.
The fans showed the same enthusiasm towards the team that they did throughout the season, which earned them the ‘Fifth Line’ tag - and it's something that MacKenzie said won't be forgotten or taken lightly.
“People showed great support to us this year,” MacKenzie said. “When you have a playoff series like that, with so much excitement in the building, it’s great to actually get to meet some of the people that were supporting us all season.”
Fans of all ages came out to the event to play games in the plaza, grab some food ($1 hot dogs, yes please) and get their memorabilia signed by MacKenzie.
Even Stinger made an appearance during the afternoon and mingled with fans young and old.
“It’s always great to see all the young fans come out — the little guys and girls,” MacKenzie said. “I have kids that are that age, and I know how excited they get when they come to a game, so it’s nice to meet them and see some of the smiles on their faces.”
MacKenzie resides in Columbus and calls the city home, but not all players stay in the city for the entire summer, which sometimes can cause a lapse in excitement for the team.
He said that the support during events like Front St. Friday helps keep the team motivated and excited to bring in even more success next season.
“A lot of times, guys head back to their hometowns for the summer and I guess things kind of calm down here for while,” he said. “It goes to show you how supportive these fans are. I think they’re still excited from a few weeks ago when we were in the playoffs. It’s great to hear some of their stories and start getting ready for next year.
“Hearing their stories and hearing how excited they were, it obviously excites us and motivates us. We’ve been here a while, didn’t make it to the playoffs, and they’ve always stuck with us and it’s nice that we could finally give something back to our fans.”