Apr 28, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets fans

Becoming a Columbus Blue Jackets Fan

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How does one become a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets? Especially someone from out of town? To find out, we have a guest post from Fletcher Keel, the editor of wavetheredtowel.com and a contributor to atlallday.com and rayscoloredglasses.com. He was an Atlanta Thrashers fan, and when they left he needed a new team to fill the void. For that, he found Columbus. This is how he became a fan of the boys in Union Blue:

 Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

When my Atlanta Thrashers jetted to Winnipeg in the summer of 2011, it left a huge gaping hole in my life that I immediately began looking to replace. Who would be my next NHL team? I thought of just about everyone under the sun; I have taken several trips to Montreal, so maybe the Canadiens? I’ve always wanted to go to the Bay Area, so the Sharks? I had a layover in Buffalo once, so maybe the Sabres?

But, when it came down to it, there was something that drew me back to the Blue Jackets. Sure, my girlfriend is from Cincinnati, so that certainly influenced it, but still do this day I can’t say specifically why. But, it just so works out the two years I have followed them, they have been successful and the NHL’s biggest feel good story. While it’s partly luck that I have only followed CBJ for their winning years, I certainly struggled as an NHL fan as a Thrashers fan, so I felt apart of all the long-term CBJ fans new-found joy over the past several years.

But, the reason I reached out to Julia and the Union and Blue staff was to share how I, a Georgia boy who knew absolutely nothing about the franchise, became the (at least, what I’d like to believe to be) knowledgeable and passionate fan I am today, ready to see the CBJ once again take the NHL by storm, and finally win that elusive first-ever playoff series here in 2014/15. With the team finding some success, hopefully the rest of Columbus, and the whole state of Ohio, will take note, and become fans as well. Think of this as my “How To: The Columbus Blue Jackets,” guide.

Credit: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

First and foremost, it may be simple, but it’s incredibly effective – follow the team on twitter (@BlueJacketsNHL), as well as key beat writers like Aaron Portzline and key CBJ personnel like Rob Mixer. There, you will see players names. And see players names. And see players names. Over and over again. You can never be too exposed to players you don’t know names, and come the first game I watched as a CBJ fan, I knew the roster.

Second, watch as much as you can. Again, it may sound obvious, but the more you watch, coupled with seeing those names from the twitterverse over and over again, you’ll not only get a feel for how the team did as a whole, but over time, you’ll learn when Ryan Johanson has a bad or good game, or why the front office should consider sending Corey Tropp back to Springfield (just a hypothetical, of course). And, if you can’t watch the game – and even if you do and you’re just starting out – read a post game report…or two…or three. Whether it be here on U&B, over on SBNation or on the CBJ’s official site (Rob Mixer does a great job), and check out what those who really know the team thought of the game. Over time, you’ll catch yourself finding similar things, and over even more time, you’ll disagree (that’s when you feel really smart!).

Third and finally, find something about the team that makes them your team. For me, it’s a couple of things. 1.) They’re my adopted team. My lone favorite professional team not based in my hometown or state, which kind of makes it more special. I could (feasably) go to a Braves, Hawks or Falcons game anytime I wanted, but the rare times I make it up to NWA, it’s somewhat of a personal pilgrimage and I cherish every minute of it. (I envy you Columbians…is that right?…during hockey season.) 2.) They are very similar to my Thrashers – kind of the red-headed step child of the league, a history that you’d rather forget than celebrate (so far), they even play a similar style of hockey.

Columbus is in a special place right now in their short franchise history, and the time is now to jump on the bandwagon. If you’re from Ohio, you have no excuse to not be pulling for your hockey team. If you’re in Ohio but are from another NHL town, ally with your current team. NWA is a blast when it’s full, and the passion for CBJ is already strong. If you’re in NHL no-man’s land, why not pull for the boys in Union Blue? (Okay, first and last time I’ll ever say that. My southern self feels dirty now.) They’re on the rise and, as Scott Hartnell said in his introductory words when he became a Jacket this summer, they’re “a bunch of little turds.” In every single way, that describes this team that I love, after only two years of following them, so dearly. And I mean that in the best possible way.
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