Welcome to CBJ FANSided Friday! In this series we will post a short interview with a fan from the Blue Jackets community and ask them about their Jackets fandom. This week we had the opportunity to interview a very unique fan.
“What makes Mads unique?” you might be asking yourself. Well, Mads lives in Norway. As you will see from the interview below, he is probably a more dedicated hockey fan than even myself. He travels the world to watch hockey and even coaches!
U&B: What is the hockey scene like in Norway?
The hockey scene in Norway is okay. Its the second largest sport here, behind soccer if you count popularity in attendance. Of course you have the Nordic sports like cross country & downhill skiing and other traditional sports, but hockey has become pretty popular. It’s just a shame that we don’t have lots of icehalls and rinks. I think there are only 42 indoor rinks in the entire country. There are only about 7000 hockey players, but it’s getting more popular.
One of the best clubs won the Continental Cup last week. One of the better KHL teams, Donbass Donetsk was the favorite to win, but Stavanger Oilers won the tournament. So that was pretty awesome. That just proves that the Norwegian Elite League (GET-ligaen), is pretty good. The Norwegian National team is getting better too. We’ve qualified for the last two Olympics, we’ve been in the quarter finals in the world championship twice the last years, and beat Sweden in Stockholm in the opening game. So we are getting better. But the main problem is that there are not enough indoor rinks.
U&B: Do you have a hometown team you root for?
I don’t. My father took me to a lot of Vålerenga games when I was younger. They always went to the semi finals and finals in the playoffs, so that’s my team in the Elite League, but I root for my hometown team in the second division, Jutul (tier 3), and the team I coach, Holmen (tier 4) I’m currently coaching their U18 team, which is pretty good. 13 of 13 Ws this season (tier 2).
U&B: What team is the most popular in Norway?
It has to be Stavanger Oilers and Vålerenga (Oslo). Stavanger has a new arena, great environment, and fans. They have been one of the best clubs the last years together with Vålerenga, who is the most winning team in history, also a team from the capital city. They still play in the 1952 Olympic Arena.
U&B: What is it like being an NHL fan from a European country?
It’s hard with the distance and time difference, but I think it’s great. The hockey is so good, and really fun to watch. I loved when the NHL was traveling to Europe for the season opener. I always went to the games. It was great to watch the Blue Jackets in The Globe in Stockholm. I only had a 6-7 hour ride.
U&B: How do you watch games? How do you deal with the time difference?
I watch games via Gamecenter. As I said, I also went to the season openers before, and I was in New York in October to see some games: Islanders vs Oilers and Devils vs Rangers. Too bad the Jackets weren’t in town. The time difference is quite tough sometimes. The games usually start at 7 eastern time, so that is 1 AM over here. The games are finished 3 hrs later.
I try to watch all the CBJ games, but it can’t be done when I’m working early, have important days, have to study… The west coast games are pretty hard. Actually when I wake up in the morning, I always tune in on Gamecenter to watch the 3rd periods. It’s usually a Vancouver, Sharks, LA or Ducks game. And that’s usually quality hockey.
Like every other kid, I had to choose a NHL team. I had heard of an expansion, so I didn’t choose until it was clear that there were going to be some new teams. Why not choose a new team? So it became the Blue Jackets. Even better, a few years later, Espen “Shampo” Knutsen joined the team, and a few years later after he left, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen joined the team. So we have had some Norwegians on the team.
My all time favorite player has to be Rick Nash. I was really sad (and mad…?) when he left, but when I look at it now, we really made a good trade. But it’s hard to choose a favorite player now on the current team. It’s so deep. I remember when I was in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics. I was watching all the Norwegian games, and when Norway met USA, I remember thinking that this Jack Johnson guy was really skilled! My eyes opened up, and I watched Jack extra close that game.
I wished back then that the CBJ would have a player like him, so I was really happy when we got him. We came good out of that Jeff Carter trade after all. And all those 1st round pick we got are really talented. Wennberg was especially good this year at the World Junior Championship. I have to say I love BOB too. My next jersey has to be a Bob jersey!
U&B: How do you think CBJ will do this season? Will they make the playoffs?
I think we have had an acceptable season until now. Too bad all the other Metropolitan Division teams have started to win too, and are getting winning streaks. But now Bob is back in form (remember last sesson when February came), we have Horton on the ice and putting up some goals, the D corps is pretty solid (Jack has to step up even more though), Ryan Murray is a future star, Ryan Johansen is playing great (The Canes broadcasters were comparing him to Mario Lemieux), and we are really deep in forwards.
The CBJ will make the playoffs from a Wild Card spot (I’m a believer). But it depends on Bob and the forwards. We need more scoring and we need winning streaks more often. Not one game win, one game lose… Because the other metro and eastern teams will know how to win on a daily basis.
I predict the CBJ will win their first Playoff game and series this year!