Tickets for Columbus Blue Jackets games go on sale Tuesday morning. The organization is offering a two for one deal as part of what will be a season-long attempt to patch things up with fans upset over the NHL lockout.
Promotions, giveaways, special offers and autograph sessions will help bring a good chunk of the apathetic fan base back to Nationwide Arena.
But there is another group of fans that's already back. What brought them back? Hockey. The chance to see the best players in the world on the ice--finally representing their town.
More than 1,200 fans showed up at the Ice Haus Sunday at noon to watch a team practice.
They filled every seat in the relatively small arena.
They stood against the glass all the way around the rink--three deep in some places to get a view of the Blue Jackets.
They came in such numbers that at one point arena staff had to turn people away.
That this happened on a Sunday afternoon when Ohiio State's basketball team was playing rival Michigan at home is no small thing. There were other things to do. Even so, 1,200 people showed up to watch a practice.
They came to see "their team" they came to see familiar faces like R.J. Umberger and Jared Boll. They came to see new faces like Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky.
They came even though the last time they saw this team the were putting the finishing touches on a last place finish. Last place in their division. Last place in their conference. Last place in the league.
None-the-less 1,200 people showed up on a dreary Sunday afternoon when it would have been much easier to stay home and watch the Buckeyes or the NFL playoffs on TV.
The organization noticed. The players noticed. The media noticed.
The season doesn't begin for another 5 days but the buzz is already back.
The buzz included a phrase that crossed nearly everyone lips that day. "Hockey town" As in, Columbus is a "hockey town".
Do we need any more proof?