Monday, January 16, 2012

Hockey 'n' Heels - Can We Do it AGAIN?

This past Saturday, I took advantage of the opportunity to attend the Blue Jackets' "Hockey 'n' Heels" event before the San Jose game. Let me first say - while the female silhouette used in the ad could perhaps have been more, erh, realistic - I was really excited for this. I think that hockey can seem like too different a sport to take on, and, learning the game, appreciating the skill and doing away with preconceived notions can be a barrier...perhaps more so for women. Anything that gets women more involved in hockey is fine by me and I was looking forward to seeing what the CBJ would have to offer.

Dan Hinote Talks Coaching
I'll prepare you now - the rest of this post will contain a whole lot of gushing. This event was really spectacular. Hosted in the Founders Club - and let me say WOW (if you ever get invited - go!), we had drinks and food and a really elegant environment. The room was filled to capacity - great to see for women, and great to see for the organization. [Who says Columbus isn't a hockey market?]

Second, the Blue Jackets managed to cram a whole heck of a lot of great access to hockey and to the team in the two hours immediately preceding the game. The agenda of speakers was engaging: we started with GM Scott Howson, followed by Coach Dan Hinote. We also heard from the entire referee team for the night's game (dang it-they made me a) think they were human and b) like them), followed by former Buckeye women's hockey player, 2010 US Olympic medalist and 2010 World Champion, Lisa Chesson and capped of by an appearance from James Wisniewski.

Lisa Shows Off her Hardware
Every single speaker was engaged, honest, open to questions and generous with their time. I'll share some of the more hockey focused nuggets in a moment, but what was cool was that the sessions were everything I had hoped they'd be. Women came with a variety of questions from "what is a power play?" to "what do you think of the NHLPA's rejection of the proposed new schedule?" The point wasn't so much what everyone knew or didn't know, its that women were comfortable asking whatever they wanted, they were interested in knowing more about hockey, and the Blue Jackets were there to help.

Here's some tidbits/editorial comments from our speakers:
  • Once again, I give full marks to Scott Howson for his willingness to face the fan base and be honest this season. He addressed the failures of the team, talked about how to evaluate 18 year-olds (do you know any? Yeah, it might be challenging) and said that the team will NOT #FailforNail intentionally [and yes, someone asked]
  • The referee team talked about the rigors of getting to the big leagues - shared their travel schedules (worse than the players) and shared they'd prefer to be able to travel as a team versus as individuals as they do now. Every game they work with a whole new crew.
  • The referees said they appreciate the "war room" in Toronto but feel it might help to have some officials in there - right now its only coaches and former players (interesting!)
  • The refs also talked about how while the "enforcer" is being phased out, it actually opens up more people to take hits and this is a challenge
  • Dan Hinote said "I realize this now...its almost never all the Coach's fault"
  • I really wish I could have seen Lisa Chesson play hockey
  • Wiz just started putting weight on his foot this past Thursday and its hard for him to keep up cardio-vascular fitness work
  • Wiz is on the board of the NHLPA (which was news to me!) So he politely declined comment on that situation
  • Wiz: "The way we're all playing - we're all held accountable - and it needs to change"
  • Wiz "Guys are starting to realize how close we are and that's a mind set of going the extra mile and preparing yourself to be a winner"
  • Wiz really shouldn't even bother with the fake teeth
  • Wiz likes the spotlight. And he's good in it.
Wiz-with boot, without teeth
In closing, it was a great great night and the women I talked to after all truly enjoyed it. If I may also say that we need Wiz in Columbus - his presence is fantastic, he's great with a crowd, and he doesn't offer a lot of platitudes or canned phrases. I know some of you take issue with his play this season but, honestly, everyone falls into that category this year. Seriously - this guy can be a big asset to this organization on and OFF the ice. 

Oh - and after the event? We all went to our seats that were included in the price of admission....Club Level. Boom.

Thank you Jackets for a great evening - please do this again!!!

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the write-up. The advertising made this feel a bit... I dunno... condescending? Glad to hear that it's nothing of the sort. If they do it again next year, I'll mention to my wife (who knows as much about hockey as I do, at the least!) that it seemed to be a good event.

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  2. God I hope they do this again, I was SO bummed that I couldn't go this year!

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  3. Michael - I totally hear your point. Its a shame they went with that image, but knowing a lot of teams in the league do something similar kept me positive and, as I said, I sure was impressed. I think its a great event for women with all levels of hockey knowledge.

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  4. That's really great to hear. Thanks again for the write up. Now, to watch my Future Jacket at tonight's intermission. :)

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