On Friday night the Blue Jackets opened Nationwide Arena to the masses for a Draft Party to coincide with the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. I decided it would be a nice opportunity to take my three young sons down for some (free) fun. I also took my camera which means I am going to subject everyone to my questionable photography skills. Hopefully this isn't as boring as your uncle's slideshow about his vacation to North Dakota. The doors were set to open at 6 pm, we arrived around 5:40 and parked for free in the attached garage, nice! We weren't sure what sort of crowd to expect and were greeted with quite the line.
I was impressed by the turnout, I'm sure having the second pick in the draft, the possibility of a Nash trade, the free admission, and having three players on hand for autographs lured most of them. Being somewhere near the last of the admission line meant we missed out on the free shirts handed out to the first 500 fans. I'm not great at estimating crowds but I would put turnout well over a thousand. Once inside the arena we were funneled down to the arena floor where the event was set up. Highlights included a bounce house, floor hockey for the kids, photo-ops with the cannon, a zamboni, and inside one of the the penalty boxes. The highlight of the activities was a self-guided locker room tour.
In the locker room tour they also had a really neat area where they allowed people to try on hockey equipment. My kids got quite the kick out of it. Here is my son trying on the same size pants Rick Nash wears.
The highlight and lowlight of the evening involved Cam Atkinson. I was watching them play ball hockey when I realized one of the people helping to run the event was Atkinson himself.
It was really cool seeing Atkinson interacting with the kids at the event, mine had no idea who he was until they were done playing and I told them. Apparently my youngest son asked him to make sure nobody took his backpack! The lowlight however was the way the autograph sessions were handled. After playing ball hockey right next to him my kids decided they also wanted his autograph. To get his autograph we were herded into a section of seats where we sat and waited for his time-slot to begin. We were informed we were at the end of the line so there was a chance we might not get an autograph. My kids decided they wanted to wait anyway. Unfortunately we never got the opportunity to get the autograph and my kids were upset (even though I reminded them of their own decision to wait. Kids! Fun!). During our wait the draft commenced and with the second pick, as everyone knows, we took Everett Sivertips defenseman Ryan Murray.
The crowd cheered, some were probably disappointed we didn't get Yakupov, some were happy we got Murray, everyone was happy we didn't totally screw it up. The Blue Jackets did a nice job putting on a free party that had some nice elements and some poorly designed ones too. Hopefully next season the Blue Jackets will throw another party, and hopefully our pick won't be so high.