As I wrote this (technical issues at Blogger delayed the post), the Columbus Blue Jackets were scoreless against the Anaheim Ducks in front of an announced attendance of 9,802 at Nationwide Arena - one of the lowest attendance figures in CBJ team history. Sure, it's a Wednesday night...but it's the fifth game of the season and one wouldn't think that the fans have given up on the CBJ so early. Of course, a 5-2 blowout loss in the home opener - the score was much better than the on-ice performance by the Blue Jackets - did nothing to help the situation.
So here we are - the 10th anniversary season, and the team of the hour is playing to a lot of blue seats. What to do?
Funny you should ask, for I would like to offer a suggestion.
By "thank you," I mean a live, personal thank you by a Columbus Blue Jackets player at the conclusion of every game.
It would work like this: After the three stars are announced, a Blue Jackets player will be given a microphone. He goes out to center ice and simply thanks the fans on the team's behalf for coming out. They might celebrate the win with the fans or offer consolation after a loss, but they ALWAYS say, "Thank you."
Win or lose, the thank you should be a tradition for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Just like the cannon and shouting "Leo!" before the national anthem.
Why do I suggest this? The reason is twofold.
First, those people who bought tickets and stayed to the end should be thanked. When the chips are down - and it sure seems like they are from an attendance point of view - you need to find new and unique ways to offer appreciation to the people who are keeping the train rolling. Giveaways are nice, as are discounted/free tickets, but the simple act of a "Thank you" means much more than one would think. No other team in professional sports that I know of does this. What a statement it would be!
In addition, I sense a feeling that the players want to show appreciation to the fans for their support. This would help accomplish that goal, and it also would help those who don't have the appreciation for the fans' importance to the fortunes of the team.
A "thank you" would be a great chance to let a star of the game whoop it up with the fans after a win. Perhaps the man of the hour brings some buddies out with him, and imagine a couple CBJ'ers leading some cheers after an exciting victory. Talk about chills and special moments that both fans and team would remember!
At the same time, it also would be good for the team to face the music when they lose. Perhaps, with the knowledge that you or your teammate has to go out and talk to fans after a loss, the team might try that much harder to avoid losses in front of the fans who are helping pay their paychecks. Accountability in the face of adversity stiffens resolve, don't you think?
I'm not asking for the team to deliver the Gettysburg Address at center ice. I'm asking for a "Thank you."
And it doesn't cost a thing.
What do you think?