The Nashville Predators faced the Columbus Blue Jackets at Columbus’ Nationwide Arena this past weekend and a former Jackets player is a little miffed at how he was received. Ryan Johansen played for the Jackets nearly four NHL seasons before being involved in a blockbuster trade that brought Seth Jones to Columbus.
Ryan even was involved in 2015 All Star festivities in Columbus after a stellar 2014-15 season that saw him amass 26 goals and 45 assists. It is thought in many circles that Ryan was traded because he & head coach John Tortorella did not see eye-to-eye.
Apparently when Ryan returned to Columbus this past weekend, he expected a warmer return than he received; “I am a little disappointed they didn’t put anything on the Jumbotron and say ‘thank you’ or anything like that,” Johansen told the Columbus Dispatch. “I think we all know who made that call, but whatever.” The “who” is more than likely John Tortorella.
No, the only reception he received at Nationwide Arena was boos from the CBJ faithful. So what do you think? Did Ryan deserve some recognition from CBJ management or is he just being a whiner?
It’s the Holiday Season…so why not give our “Christmas Wishes” for fans of Ohio’s major sports teams?
CLEVELAND BROWNS- Hope, any glimmer of hope. All the fans of this downtrodden franchise want is a sign that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train.
CINCINNATI BENGALS- Success on the “big stage”. This is the season where the Bengals need to show their fans that they can deliver in ‘primetime’. Yes, Andy Dalton is injured…but AJ McCarron should keep the ship afloat until the “Red Rifle” can return in the playoffs.
OHIO STATE FOOTBALL- A convincing win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Yes, the dominating victory over Michigan was nice but Buckeyes fans need a big win over the Irish to take the sour taste of no return to the College Football Playoff out of their mouths.
CINCINNATI REDS- A blueprint of a true, concrete plan. Most reasonable Reds fans probably understand the need for the mid-market team to shed payroll. But those fans also need to see what is being done to rebuild….or maybe just get some more sweet bobbleheads.
CLEVELAND INDIANS- A sense of direction. Is this team really in it to win it or just to keep their heads above .500? The franchise has made some vaguely interesting moves so far this offseason to pique interest among the fanbase but is it enough to compete in the AL Central?
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS- Leadership from within. Yes, the hiring of John Tortorella as head coach should provide discipline but the team needs leadership from the players themselves. Nick Foligno was elected captain but it still seems like someone, anyone, needs to start being a bit of an asshole in the locker room. Nice guys finish last especially in the NHL.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS- A NBA Championship. Pure and simple. This team is the only real hope Cleveland has of bringing a title to the city. If they fail this season, it doesn’t look possible anytime soon.
OHIO STATE BASKETBALL- A .500 season with maybe a couple of Big Ten Tournament wins would be nice. Kentucky win aside, this is a very young team and is due to disappoint Buckeyes fans a few more times this season. If they could sneak into the NCAA Tournament, that would be a bonus.
UC & XAVIER BASKETBALL- To use a cliche, “You keep being you”. Both of these teams exemplify why the city of Cincinnati is a true college basketball gem. UC & X are very good teams with great coaches at the helm. Added bonus, neither coach looks to be wanting to go elsewhere which should mean continued success for a long time.
Ohio State Buckeyes Basketball
Thad Matta, D’Angelo Russell & the Ohio State Hoopsters are already in the middle of another exciting college basketball season! It should be another fun battle in the Big Ten Conference as we head to March Madness…where the BasketBucks will probably get upset by another mid-major.
Columbus Blue Jackets
We are coming off of a wonderful NHL All Star experience here in Columbus, so why not get behind your Columbus Blue Jackets? Why let little things like the CBJ digging themselves into such an early hole that the Stanley Cup Playoffs seem like a pipe dream or a roster decimated by injuries to stars like Nathan Horton and Sergei Bobrovsky keep you from being a member of the “5th Line”?
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL (Cincinnati Reds & Cleveland Indians)
It won’t be long before the “Boys of Summer” will be in Arizona getting ready for another Major League Baseball season! Don’t tell us you aren’t getting a little bit excited for a marathon 162 game season in which both the Cincinnati Reds & Cleveland Indians will march in the hot summer sun to…..most likely mediocre seasons at best.
Who are we kidding?? We are going to be miserable without football. So keep working on those mock NFL drafts and counting the days until the Buckeyes Football Spring Game. We can make it until then, right?
It is finally here! NHL All Star Week in Columbus. This is the Capital City’s time to shine and show the rest of the sports world that we are capable of putting on a great show on a big stage. Who knows? It just may lead to a “Winter Classic” being held at Ohio Stadium. Imagine that…the Blue Jackets & Red Wings “getting it on” at The Shoe! Just remember, put your best foot forward, CBus. (Be nice to out-of-towners….even if they root for other teams.)
Here is the schedule of when, what & where—
The All Star Winter Park is already open at McFerson Commons across the street from Nationwide Arena . It is anchored by an NHL-sized outdoor rink that will feature public skating, hockey, private events and various other programming. The rink will be equipped with bleacher seating for 500 people, a skate rental tent and four heated locker rooms. Get more info and a schedule for public skating HERE.
A “Snow Slide” will stand 34-feet tall at its peak and span 85-feet with an additional 175-feet running along Nationwide Blvd. The three-lane slide, which will be positioned along the westbound lanes of Nationwide Blvd. between Marconi Blvd. and West St., will feature three separate access points of varying heights to allow people of all ages to participate. The Snow Slide will be open Thursday, January 22 through Sunday, January 25 at a cost of $2 per ride (cash only). Hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The NHL Fan Fair will be held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. As the official fan festival of the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend, NHL Fan Fair will offer hockey fans of all ages three days of family friendly interactive games and attractions, special appearances, trophy and memorabilia displays, live TV and radio broadcasts, music, food and dozens of other dynamic activities. All attractions will be included with the price of admission. Get a full Fan Fair schedule & pricing info HERE.
Both the NHL All Star Skills Competition & All Star Game at Nationwide Arena are sold out, but we would imagine there will be opportunities to either win tickets or watch the events on large screens in and around the ‘Wide. The greatest hockey players on the globe will compete. Plus, the Blue Jackets’ very own Nick Foligno has been named a team captain and joins Ryan Johansen & Sergei Bobrovsky as Jackets who will be a part of Sunday’s All Star Game. The Skills Competition will be held on Saturday, January 24th at 7p and the All Star Game will start at 5p Sunday, January 25th. Both will be televised on NBC Sports Network.
Show the rest of the world that Columbus is a Hockey Town!
Be sure to listen each weekday to the “UnNamed Torg Show” (12-1p; Replay at 6p) & “Stiller Project” (4-6p) during NHL All Star Week for Complete Coverage!
Your favorite Columbus sports teams celebrated the spirit of the Holiday Season by sharing their time & talents with others.
Frankie Hejduk & Columbus Crew SC helped The Salvation Army by ringing the bell at Easton Town Center & with their Christmas Cheer program, which provides food and toys to nearly 8,000 families in need over a two-day period. Learn more about The Salvation Army of Central Ohio and how you can help at http://co.salvationarmy.org/CentralOhio/
The Big Ten Champion Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team visited Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Urban Meyer, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Bennett, Doran Grant, Jeff Heuerman, Cameron Johnston, Sean Nuernberger and Brutus Buckeye handed out presents, took photos and signed autographs for over 30 children, their parents and hospital staff.
Get more info on how you can help Nationwide Childrens Hospital here- http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/giving
Members of the Columbus Blue Jackets spent a “Day of Service” helping build furniture for the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio & Mid-Ohio Food Bank, which will be distributed to individuals and families in need. Learn more about their mission at http://furniturebankcoh.org/ & http://www.midohiofoodbank.org/
Take some time during this Holiday Season to help those who may need a hand.
Happy Holidays from 955 The Game.
With the exception of their inaugural season, the 2014-15 NHL Season for the Columbus Blue Jackets is the most anticipated. Coming off of a great 2013-14 Season and playoff series vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, fans are expecting a lot from Sergei Bobrovsky, Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson and the rest of the CBJ. To celebrate the excitement, our friends Torg & Elliott from our ‘sister station’ QFM96 hosted “Breakfast With The Blue Jackets” at the R Bar in the Arena District.
“LEO!” Blue Jackets National Anthem singer Leo Welsh started things off and talked to the guys about what it is like to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” in front of 18,000+ fans.
Original Blue Jacket Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre stopped by and shared stories about the first season of the Jackets and also shared what he is doing now. He is a Real Estate Agent for The Raines Group! Who wouldn’t want to buy a house off a Blue Jacket?
We are so grateful that Blue Jackets Head Coach Todd Richards was able to join us after a game the night before in Buffalo. You could tell Torg was excited to talk to “Coach”…something was even said about Torg owning a Todd Richards “blow up doll” he interviews at home…but we digress.
Fox Sports Ohio’s CBJ Play-By-Play man extraordinaire Jeff Rimer swung by after his morning cup of coffee to talk the NHL He also shared stories of encounters with Muhammad Ali and Pete Rose. We could listen to ‘Rims’ talk sports all day long.
GM Jarmo Kekäläinen joined the show and even though Torg referred to him as a “Bond Villain”, he did a great job of letting everyone attending know what he and the organization expects from the squad.
Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson wrapped the show up and shared his vision of what he expects from the Blue Jackets this season and beyond. He even laughed at Jarmo being referred to as a “Bond Villain”.
But talking Blue Jackets Hockey wasn’t the only thing going on. We thank the Blue Jackets for giving away tickets and prizes to those who attended! Anne Marie Dennison won this team autographed stick!
A fun time was had by all and we thank everyone who attended! We also would like to thank Karen Davis, Blue Jackets Director of Communications and the R Bar for all of their help putting this together and their help with pictures!
In Honor of “Top 10 Tuesdays” on The BIG Show with Matt Finkes, here are our Columbus Sports Best “Top 10” Moments!
We are going to ‘count it down’ from 10 to 1!
10) COLUMBUS CREW WINS THE 2008 MLS CHAMPIONSHIP
Led by Head Coach Sigi Schmid, the Columbus Crew had a 17-7-6 record and defeated the Chicago Fire & Kansas City Wizards in the MLS Playoffs to advance to the 2008 MLS Cup. Alejandro Moreno, Chad Marshall and Frankie Hejduk scored goals, all of which were assisted by Guillermo Barros Schelotto to lead Columbus to a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls for the MLS Championship. Schelotto was named MVP of the final, matching his MVP award for the regular season.
9) BASEBALL RETURNS TO COLUMBUS
Minor League Baseball had been a staple of the Columbus sports scene with teams such as the Redbirds, Senators, Giants and Jets producing Major League all-stars and Hall of Famers like Richie Hebner, Al Oliver, Doc Ellis, Enos Slaughter, Branch Rickey, Mordecai Brown, Joe Tinker & Dazzy Vance. Sadly, in 1971 after declining attendance and a stadium that was falling into disrepair, baseball left Columbus and headed to Charleston, West Virginia. In 1977, baseball returned to the Capital City after a groundswell of support from civic leaders and sports fans. Jets Stadium was refurbished on W. Mound St to become, at that time, the jewel of minor league baseball, Franklin County Stadium, which would eventually be renamed Cooper Stadium in honor of Harold Cooper, the Franklin County Commissioner who led the charge to bring baseball back. The new team was named the Clippers, who still play to huge crowds at beautiful Huntington Park in Downtown Columbus.
8) COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS MAKE THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
The Columbus Blue Jackets came into being in 2000 and while that was a great event in Columbus sports history, we decided that the CBJ first entry into the Stanley Cup Playoffs was worthy of a spot. While fans were still supportive of the Jackets they were starting to become disgruntled as the team headed into a new decade. Led by rookie goaltender Steve Mason and Captain Rick Nash, the Blue Jackets finally got the fans enthused as they finished the 2008-09 NHL Season with a 41-31-10 record and a seventh seed berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Unfortunately, the Jackets started the Western Conference playoffs versus the defending champion Red Wings and Detroit provided a rude awakening, sweeping Columbus 4 games to 0. Even with the sad result in the series, it was a milestone in the franchise’s history.
7) JACK NICKLAUS WINS HIS 6TH MASTERS TITLE
The “Golden Bear” is Columbus Sports Royalty and on August 13, 1986 we saw why. At the age of 46, Jack captured his 6th Green Jacket and became the oldest golfer to win at Augusta and second oldest to win a major. Nicklaus won the tournament by one shot over Tom Kite and Greg Norman. He shot 30 on the Back 9 the final Sunday and had to withstand challenges from Seve Ballesteros, Kite, Norman and Nick Price to pull off the feat. Jack still holds the record of 18 major championships and brought PGA golf to Columbus with the “fifth major”, The Memorial Tournament.
6) ARCHIE GRIFFIN WINS HIS 2ND HEISMAN TROPHY
Archie Griffin is the greatest player in Ohio State Football History and on December 2nd, 1975 that was proven as fact when Archie won his second Heisman Trophy. During his senior season, Griffin extended a stretch of 100-plus-yard games to 31 (during which the Buckeyes went 29-1-1) and amassed an NCAA record-breaking 5,177 career rushing yards. Unfortunately, Archie’s success as a collegian did not pan out in the NFL but he is still a wonderful ambassador for Buckeye Nation as the President & CEO of the Ohio State Alumni Association. Former Ohio State Football Coach Woody Hayes said of Archie, “He’s a better young man than he is a football player, and he’s the best football player I’ve ever seen.” Nothing else needs to be said after that.
5) OHIO STATE FOOTBALL WINS THE 2002 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP
Coming off a 7-5 season the year before including a victory over Michigan under first-year coach Jim Tressel there was optimism for the Buckeyes but a National Championship? The Buckeyes ended up undefeated for the 2002 season but it wasn’t without some nail biters. Ohio State survived scares versus Cincinnati, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue and Illinois heading into “The Game” against Michigan. The Wolverines came in with a 9-2 record looking to upset the undefeated Bucks. Once again, it was a nail biter as it took a Maurice Hall option pitch from Craig Krenzel into the endzone from two yards out with 4:55 left to win it 14-9. The Buckeyes headed into the BCS National Championship Game against the Number One ranked and heavily favored Miami Hurricanes. The Championship Game was a classic that headed into not just one but two overtimes.
In the first overtime, the Canes scored a TD on a 7-yard pass to Kellen Winslow. Ohio State had no choice but to play for another overtime, with Krenzel completing a fourth and 14 pass to Michael Jenkins, giving Ohio State new life. On fourth and 3, after an initial signal of defensive holding, a pass interference penalty was called by official Terry Porter on Miami DB Glenn Sharpe. However the penalty was flagged after the play was completed and while Miami was celebrating an apparent victory, causing the call to become controversial. With a first-and-goal at the two, Krenzel scored three plays later on a one-yard touchdown run, sending the game into another overtime.
The Buckeyes took the field again on offense, moving down the field quickly and capping the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run by Maurice Clarett. Miami began its second overtime possession with no options except to score a touchdown. Backup quarterback Derek Crudup, who came in for a play after Dorsey was shaken up, converted a fourth down pass to Winslow, which was followed by facemask and pass interference penalties against Ohio State that now gave Miami an identical first-and-goal situation at the two-yard line. The Hurricanes were stuffed on the first three plays, and pressure forced a desperation throw by Dorsey that fell incomplete in the end zone, ending the game with Ohio State as the 2002 Champions.
4) OHIO STATE BASKETBALL WINS THE 1960 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
For all of it’s rich basketball history, Ohio State has only won one NCAA Basketball Championship, which came in 1960. The 1959-60 Buckeyes lost only one game during the Big 10 season, to Indiana and steamrolled in the NCAA Tournament beating Western Kentucky, Georgia Tech and NYU dominantly. The NCAA Title game wasn’t much different as the Bucks demolished California 75-55. The team featured two Hall of Famers in John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, six players drafted by NBA teams and the volatile Bobby Knight who is a legend when it comes to NCAA Basketball Coaches. Led by Lucas’ 26.3 points per game, Ohio State outscored it’s opponents by an average of more than 20 points. The team averaged 90.4 points per game; a school record & 20 points higher than the NCAA average that season.
3) JESSE OWENS WINS 4 GOLD MEDALS IN THE 1936 OLYMPICS
Jesse Owens was born in 1913 in Oakville, Alabama but his family headed to Cleveland for a shot at a better opportunity in life. Jesse came to national attention as a student of East Technical High School in Cleveland when he equaled the world record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard dash and long-jumped 24 feet 9 1⁄2 inches at the 1933 National High School Championship. Jesse then attended Ohio State where he won a record eight individual NCAA championships, four each in 1935 and 1936. Owens’s greatest achievement came in a span of 45 minutes on May 25, 1935, during the Big 10 meet at Michigan, where he set three world records and tied a fourth. He equaled the world record for the 100 yard dash; and set world records in the long jump (26 ft 8 1⁄4 in, a world record that would last 25 years); 220-yard sprint (20.3 seconds); and 220-yard low hurdles (22.6 seconds, becoming the first to break 23 seconds).
In 1936 Owens competed in the Berlin Olympics which Adolf Hitler wanted to use as a platform to show a resurgent Nazi Germany. Owens foiled those plans, winning the 100 meter sprint with a time of 10.3 seconds, the long jump with a leap of 26 ft 5 in, the 200 meter sprint with a time of 20.7 seconds and being a part of the 4 x 100 sprint relay team that won with a time of 39.8 seconds, a world record in the event at that time. Sadly Owens still suffered persecution despite these feats. He had to eat at “blacks only” restaurants and stay at “blacks only” hotels as an athlete at Ohio State. He did not receive a scholarship as well, having to work part-time jobs to pay for school. Even after his performance at the 1936 Olympics, Owens did not receive honors from President Dwight D. Eisenhower or his successor, Harry S. Truman. However, time has changed that and Owens is now recognized as a legend.
2) BUCKEYES WIN THE 1968 NCAA FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
The 1968 Ohio State Football team is considered one of the greatest teams of all time. With 11 All Americans and six first-round NFL draft picks, it is hard to argue that. QB Rex Kern, RBs Jim Otis and John Brockington led a solid offense & NT Jim Stillwagon, SS Jack Tatum and CB Tim Anderson led a fierce defense. Of course, Head Coach Woody Hayes molded all of these stars into a cohesive unit. This also was the first team to receive Buckeye Leaves stickers for their helmets to reward good plays by athletes. While many viewed Woody’s teams as “3 Yards & A Cloud of Dust”, the offense averaged 440 yards per game. The breakout game for the Buckeyes was against #1 Purdue. The Boilermakers had defeated the Buckeyes 41-6 the season before and came into the game with All-American QB Mike Phipps and RB Leroy Keyes, a Heisman Trophy candidate. The Boilers averaged 40 points per game. The Buckeyes defense shut them down as they beat Purdue 13-0.
The undefeated Buckeyes crushed Michigan 50-14 and headed into the Rose Bowl versus #2 USC and RB OJ Simpson. The Trojans went up 10-0 early as OJ cut through the Buckeyes defense on an 80-yard TD run but Ohio State responded by going 69 yards in 13 plays capped off on a 1-yard run by Otis, and Jim Roman added a 25-yard field goal with just three seconds left that tied the game at 10-all at halftime. Ohio State took the lead for good in the 3rd quarter when Roman added another FG and Kern tossed two TD passes in the fourth quarter as OSU defeated USC 27-16 to eventually claim the national championship. Kern was named the Rose Bowl’s Most Valuable Player after completing 9-of-15 passes for 101 yards and two TDs.
1) BUSTER DOUGLAS KNOCKS MIKE TYSON OUT AND BECOMES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD
James “Buster” Douglas was born right here in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in the Linden neighborhood. He attended Linden-McKinley High School and even led Linden-McKinley to an AAA Ohio Basketball Championship in 1977. He played basketball for some community and small colleges but returned to Columbus to focus on boxing. Douglas eventually connected with trainer John Johnson. Douglas began his pro career on May 31, 1981 and had an okay if not spectacular career until the night of February 11, 1990 in Tokyo.
Buster was coming off an unanimous decision win over Oliver McCall that gave him a shot at the undisputed heavyweight crown held by “Iron” Mike Tyson. We all know what Mike Tyson was about. Knocking out chumps in record time and leaving us wondering why we bought another Tyson pay-per-view. It was widely recognized that Buster would be another one of those ‘chumps’. Buster’s mother, Lula Pearl, had died nearly one month before the bout. Buster surprised everyone early in the fight by dominating Tyson from the ‘get-go’. Douglas’ 12-inch reach advantage was being used to perfection. He hit “Iron” Mike at will with jabs and avoided Tyson’s punches. Tyson looked slow and out of shape for the bout and by the fifth round, Tyson’s left eye was swelling shut due to Buster’s many right hands. In the eighth round though, Tyson landed an uppercut that knocked Douglas down but Buster was able to get back up by a nine count. Mike came out aggressive in the ninth looking for the big punch that would knock Buster out. Both exchanged strong blows but survived for the tenth round.
Douglas dominated the tenth from the outset. While setting Tyson up with his jab Douglas scored a huge uppercut, followed by a rapid combination, and knocked Tyson down for the first time in his career, making boxing history. Tyson struggled to his knees and picked up his mouthpiece lying on the mat next to him. He awkwardly attempted to place it back into his mouth. The image of Tyson with the mouthpiece hanging crookedly from his lips would become an enduring image from the fight. He was unable to beat the referee’s count, and Douglas was the new heavyweight champion of the world.
Now a personal note; you may wonder why I chose this as #1 for the list. It was a night I will never forget as a Columbus sports fan. I was out and about with a good buddy of mine and we ended up at the Bier Stube on the OSU campus. Quite honestly, the fight was on as something in the background. But as the fight continued a ‘buzz’ (non-alcoholic) began to envelope the bar, people stopped talking & drinking and started to watch intently. People who didn’t know each other became close friends hugging and cheering every time Buster landed a big punch. When Buster finally put “Iron” Mike down the place erupted in mass hysteria. The next morning you could tell the City of Columbus was on “Cloud Nine” and proud of it’s new found “Hometown Hero”.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in their existence and a fantastic fan movement has begun for it. The gentlemen of The CBJ Artillery http://www.twitter.com/TheCBJArtillery and Blue Jackets Nation http://www.twitter.com/CBJ_Nation; TJ Nocar, Matt Pfeffer and Jordan Mills created the “5th Line” movement. The “5th Line” is akin to the “12th Man” in football, where fans are called upon to make a difference for their team with unwavering and loud support. #WeAreThe5thLine actually was the brainchild of TJ who runs the @CBJ_Nation twitter account. The hashtag made its debut on twitter April 5th on @TheCBJArtillery account and “blew up”. Thousands have used the hashtag, including Ohio Governor John Kasich himself. Blue Jackets players have even got behind the movement, including Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski. Local apparel retailer Homage joined the movement…printing up #WeAreThe5thLine t-shirts, which have been flying off shelves.
The Columbus Dispatch did a great profile of the movement and the guys behind it and The CBJ Artillery even did a segment on our very own “BIG Show with Matt Finkes”! TJ, Matt & Jordan are to be credited for helping build an ‘identity’ for a team that unfortunately has taken some bad raps regarding it’s fanbase. The Jackets finished 27th out of 30 teams in NHL attendance this season and unfortunately whenever the Blackhawks, Penguins and Red Wings come to Nationwide Arena it seems as if the Jackets are playing a home game. It is efforts like #WeAreThe5thLine that help build a team’s legacy. We are proud to be part of the movement.
Go Jackets! #WeAreThe5thLine
It was an amazing scene this past Saturday (2/15) as throngs of Columbus Hockey fans converged en masse on the Arena District packing the R Bar and Three Legged Mare to watch the USA vs. Russia Olympic Hockey game. The lines to get into both places began forming around 5am to get a decent spot to watch the game.
I had the privilege of making it into the R Bar to be part of the festivities. The atmosphere was electric for such an early hour….and yes, the beer was flowing. The Blue Jackets made it even more special by having emcee Mike Todd, fan favorites Jody Shelley and Fredrik Modin on hand along with some great prize giveaways.
The R Bar was at capacity and beyond. Those who were unable to make it in watched outside on large monitors from windows lining the patio while waiting for people to leave. The game itself was amazing….a hard fought affair that honestly at times seemed as if Team Russia was going to take control of. But Team USA kept fighting and when Fedor Tyutin’s late goal was disallowed, the energy in the room increased tenfold. You could tell you were part of something special and those watching didn’t want it to end. Of course, the issue of five Blue Jackets on the Russian team cropped up during the morning…but it didn’t matter, everyone in attendance was pulling for Team America (with the exception of two Russian hotties standing near me who cheered every time Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made a save, which wasn’t all bad). National Pride was at a fevered pitch as we were united for all of America, except Michigan, of course.
Near the end of the game I spotted Dispatch sports columnist Bob Hunter standing a few people away. I couldn’t help but remark, “I guess Columbus is a hockey town, huh?” He laughed and expressed his amazement at how so many turned out so early on such a cold morning to watch Olympic Hockey. I also kind of felt bad as Bob tried to take pictures of the crowd with his smartphone. Bob is not the tallest person in the world. I wanted to ask him if he would like to get up on my shoulders to take pictures.
So the game ended in a tie, the overtime was scoreless and of course most of you know how it ended….TJ Oshie of the St. Louis Blues in epic fashion with not one, not two, not three but four shootout goals. After that what happened at the R Bar? Let’s let the video do the talking……
So you still don’t think Columbus is a Hockey Town? I have seen many sporting events in person, on tv and with gatherings like this. Watching Buster Douglas knock out Mike Tyson almost 25 years ago at a campus bar will always be number one on my list of sports moments viewed…but what happened this past Saturday is a very close second. Columbus Hockey Fans are truly amazing.
With the recent run of success the Columbus Blue Jackets have had; a lot of finger pointing has been done at so-called ‘bandwagon jumpers’. Is Columbus a ‘Hockey Town’ or is it just full of people wanting to ‘get in’ on the new, shiny, fun toy? I am sure there are a lot of people who don’t know a cross check from a bad check. But yes, I do believe Columbus is truly a ‘hockey town’. There are many youth leagues in the city of Columbus now….and we even boast 5 Chiller facilities that host public skating and hockey for youth & adults. Plus, Ohio State Men’s & Women’s Hockey has good support. But more than anything that proved that Columbus is a Hockey Town was the great success of the Columbus Chill. If not for the Chill, the Columbus Blue Jackets would not exist.
From 1991-1999, the Columbus Chill packed them into the Coliseum at the State Fairgrounds. Thanks to hilarious marketing by GM David Paitson and the Chill front office they were unparalleled when it came to minor league promotions. They won over Columbus sports fans with wild fun and yes, some bare knuckled brawling.
This video captures in great detail the essence of the Chill and rebirth of Pro Hockey in Columbus—
Yes, the Blue Jackets have captured Columbus’ minds and hearts with their fantastic streak (which unfortunately ended on Saturday Night)….but none of this would be possible without a tip of the cap to the Columbus Chill.