RJ And BJs: Columbus Pride

We got to know Pete Olsen through his terrific work with Wide Rights. Wide Rights sits squarely in between the gay rights movement and the sports industry and Pete, a law student (Go Buckeyes), clued us in on the Columbus Blue Jackets Pride Night game – the March 30 tilt against the Panthers. Pete is primarily a hoops and football fan, and we’ve been gently pushing him towards puck ever since we met him. Despite the Blue Jackets’ woes this season, we think we’re making progress, judging by recent tweets

If you aren’t following Pete on Twitter, you should. We thank him for his hard work and allowing us to cross-post from his killer site. We think we’ve found our new BJ’s correspondent (or our new attorney).

Umberger and the Panthers' Marcel Goc (AP Photo)

“Just hours after You Can Play unveiled another video with ten more NHL players—including Blue Jacket RJ Umberger—expressing their support of gay athletes (video below), Umberger scored the first goal just 3:41 into the Blue Jackets “Pride Night” game against the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers. 

Umberger then closed the show with an empty netter with 48 seconds to go, giving the Blue Jackets the 4-1 victory.
Also, fitting the theme, that last goal was assisted by fellow You Can Play supporter, Blue Jacket captain Rick Nash, furthering my theory that the sports gods appreciate sports allies, particularly on “pride night” events.

The Blue Jackets have really embraced the opportunity to be “spoilers,” even after clinching 30th place (that is last place for the non-NHL fan) a while ago.  In fact, in the past 27 games, the team is 13-13-1.  Considering that the team’s overall record is 26-45-7, at least they are finishing on a somewhat stronger note.

Rick Nash and the Panthers' Mikael Samuelsson

The continued effort by the team is noticeable.  Rick Nash, who I don’t think anyone would blame for giving a half-ass effort after all the trade drama and the current state of the team, is still going out every night and playing hard. 

Allen York—the Blue Jackets 3rd/4th goal tender who has had to step up after injuries to Mason and Sanford—is playing well and stopped 30 of 31 shots on the night.

That hustle by the team was most notable in killing 1:40 of a 5-on-3 Panthers power play in the 1st period.  A friend of mine came up from Florida for the game (he is a Panthers fan), and he noted that the Panthers are generally a good power play scoring team.  And of course the Blue Jackets aren’t the greatest penalty killing team.  It was just another example of what was great effort and a great game and win for the home team.

As far as the other “pride night” festivities, I do not know how it went.  As I noted in my previous post, the format of this pride night compared to last season was a bit underwhelming.  The group was offered tickets in a variety of sections, so I doubt there was any cohesive gay cheering group.  There was no post-game LGBT game on the ice.  There was a happy hour pre-game, but I did not attend. 

Oh, of course, since it was a group attending the game, the scoreboard did flash “Welcome Pride Night participants” during the 2nd intermission amongst the gaggle of other groups. I did, however, have tremendous seats to the game (thanks to my previously mentioned friend from Florida who knew a guy, who knew a guy)! 

We were sitting just a few rows behind the penalty boxes, right at center ice.  Did you know that those highfalutin sections have like a private little lounge that gives out free popcorn and ice cream?!  The bathrooms were nicer than the regular concourse ones too, I must say.  I was definitely not used to that sort of treatment.  And from the perspective of viewing the game, while I sometimes appreciate seats higher up to be able to follow the puck better, there were times when being that close really gave a sense of what the goalies and players are seeing on shots.
Oh, oh, oh, and before I forget: apparently twitter follower Bryan Blaskie’s (straight) parents were on the kiss cam!  So, kudos to their kisses!”

And Kudos to RJ and Rick!


About Craig

Proudly serving gay hockey fans and players since 2010
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