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The Social Jackets

As we go into the Labor Day weekend the traditional end to summer is upon us. While many people are melancholy headed towards the fall and winter, hockey fans are just starting to get excited. The hashtag #IsItOctoberYet starts to feel a little more relevant than it did back in June. The players start tweeting about getting off the lakes in Canada and back onto the ice in Columbus. The start of the new season also marks only the second time in franchise history the team has to follow up a playoff appearance the previous season. Instead of discussing the possibility of making the playoffs this season (sometimes jokingly), the speculation is now on the team taking “the next step.”

Being a Blue Jackets fan, and a sports fan in general, is an entirely different experience than it used to be. When the NHL lockout took away half a season the Blue Jackets twitter account had less than 100,000 followers. They now have over 171,000 less than two years later. While not the number of followers some Canadian teams or East Coast large market teams have, it’s a significant following for a team not known nationally as a contender or a traditional hockey market. Nationwide Arena is even being outfitted with a high density wi-fi system to allow everyone in the arena high speed internet access for their devices during games. I’m sure some old school fans scoff at the idea of using your phone during a hockey game, but the reality of today’s sports fans being connected at all times is not lost on the organization.

I don’t know about you, but it can be hard to watch a hockey game from home without having my twitter up. When things are getting exciting on the ice it makes you feel like a part of it seeing how many people feel just like you do. It’s not exactly like being in the arena (when my phone usually stays pocketed), but it adds to the home experience and is useful when you miss something in the broadcast. The number of Blue Jackets blogs and bloggers has grown exponentially, and CBJ related twitter accounts seem to number in the hundreds. The mainstream Blue Jackets media doesn’t shun us or act better than us either, as they embraces and support us by answering our questions and giving us behind the scenes and historical information. The Blue Jackets themselves interact with the fans at a level of transparency that is frankly quite shocking. I don’t see the Cincinnati Bengals or Cleveland Indians replying to you on twitter like the Jackets do, even when you make a bad pun about a restricted free agent’s contract situation (that may have happened to me… and it was a pretty bad pun). The @BlueJacketsNHL account is more than happy to tell you good morning and give you a shout out when it can. Even the mascot has time to answer a tweet or two when he’s not on vacation or hanging out with other mascots (as an aside, do yourself a favor and check out Stinger’s commercials for a Canadian credit card on YouTube… Classic Stinger).

With the start of the season about a month away, the CBJ social community will soon be able to write about some honest to goodness hockey! The party kicks off this weekend on August 31st at Cannonfest V, an event designed around all of us. I hope to see lots of you there and get to put some faces to all the twitter names I interact with all year. The Blue Jackets follow that up by hosting Fan Fest on September 12th at Nationwide Arena. Training camp starts the following week on September 19th. Then before you know it the time will come to watch some Blue Jackets hockey and fire the cannon! Can’t wait!

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