July 17, 2012

CannonFest 2012: Yeah! That's the Ticket!

Coming soon to a tee shirt on you.   . . . the official logo of CannonFest 2102, as chosen by the fans.

When Matt Wagner first announced the idea of hosting a cookout for Blue Jackets bloggers in an effort to foster a little camaraderie within the blogging community, it was probably a good thing that it ultimately wasn't held at his place. I've never been to Matt's house, but unless he has a really big yard it might have been a little too cozy. Approximately 100 people showed up to the inaugural #CannonFest, as it came to be known back in 2010, and they weren't all bloggers. 

"Problem was, there seemed to be a bunch of new CBJ blogs popping up every week," explained Tom Fellrath (better know as The Dark Blue Jacket). Tom liked Matt's idea, but encouraged him to think bigger and open it up to the diehard CBJ fans who read the blogs and the many active #CBJ social medialites.

When Matt and Tom asked me to host the first CannonFest at my Buffalo Wild Wings in Grandview, I wholeheartedly agreed to do it. On a typical Sunday afternoon in August, there are four times as many television monitors in the restaurant than there are patrons. You know how the song goes. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. 

We expected about 40 or so people at CF1. We were ecstatic when more than double that many showed up. The post-event buzz was incredible. We weren't even sure we would do another one, but a year later the fans still had their lighters raised skyward and were chanting for more. Last year, CF2 drew over 200 people, as well as appearances on the local news and other coverage by the mainstream media. Given the event's humble beginnings, we continue to be amazed by just how much CannonFest has grown in two short years.

And CF3 could be even bigger. The recently completed Blue Jackets Development Camp drew over 1,500 fans on the final day, which has to be a new record. (Development Camp? We're talking about Development Camp!) And this year CannonFest is poised through some exciting new partnerships to have even broader appeal, which makes the possibility for increased attendance even greater. That puts us as organizers squarely on the horns of a dilemma. If the event has maxed out in terms of attendees, we can keep it at B-Dubs in Grandview, proud home to not only the first two CannonFests, but the random #CBJTweetupDrinkup and the upcoming Central Division Tweetup as well. But if it grows too much more, the friendly confines of B-Dubs could start to become cozier than Matt's backyard and we will need to find a more suitable location. If that happens, I'm perfectly fine with it. Young Grasshopper will have snatched the pebble from Master Po's hand, if you know what I mean. 

We need your help.  To ensure that we have a solid number of attendees upon which to plan and select an appropriate site, we're going to circulate free "tickets" to this year's CannonFest online.  
You can claim your tickets (and help us get a head count) by going to http://cannonfest2012.eventbrite.com and filling out the simple e-form to sign up.  
Please claim your tickets now. Besides helping us plan a great event, signing up for tickets adds you to an exclusive email list which we will use to announce CannonFest happenings like, say, where the event will be held...and how to get T-shirts with the new logo.  Good for you, good for us and GREAT for what promises to be the most festive CannonFest yet!

July 06, 2012

Nash to Detroit: Who Wants Some Lemonade?

As unseemly and thoroughly maddening as the Nash anti-drama has become, we need to collect ourselves. We need resolve. We need focus. We need shrewd calculation and steady nerve. We don't need begging.   At least not yet.

I'll admit that when I first heard the Nash to Detroit twitter-twatter it caused me to suffer a moderate case of gastric distress. But not as much as it caused Michael Arace. "The Detroit Red Wings are in the Rick Nash derby," Arace wrote yesterday. "Please, not Detroit. Not there." He used the word "please" three times in the piece and also threw in a "mercy." And it didn't go unnoticed.
Columbus colmnist begs Blue Jackets to trade Rick Nash anwhere . . . . . but Detroit.
Great. Is there a worse visual than downtrodden Blue Jackets fans dragging their knuckles along the basement of the NHL during this prolonged Nash trade saga? How about downtrodden knuckle-dragging Blue Jackets fans (and columnists) donning knee pads and begging Scott Howson for mercy? Yes. 

First, grovelling is weak. As a fan I might be beaten down, but I'm not weak. I'm not going to beg. And if I were to beg, I would beg for a $3 reduction in the price of a beer at Nationwide. 

Second, and more importantly, Arace has it all wrong. 
Carolina is not on the list but is said to be pitching hard anyway. Can you imagine Nash playing with Jordan or Eric Staal, or both? Jackets fans could bear it because the Canes are more likely to provide an acceptable return in trade — and they are in the Eastern Conference, which, barring realignment, takes a lot of the sting out of it. 
Barring realignment? What bar is he referring to? The beers must be cheaper there. Realignment is a virtual certainty. And it's a big deal, so let's think big, or at least bigger than Rick Nash. Let's be creative. It's hard to reshape the box from inside. Scott, are you listening?

Take the Red Wings best offer of players/prospects/picks and add a twist. Have the Wings sign off on the Blue Jackets gaining priority over them in any NHL realignment scenario that would result in only one of the two teams being moved to the East. In fact, get it in writing and have the Red Wings assign their rights under the "promise" that Mike Ilitch said Gary Bettman made to the Red Wings to move them to the East. Bold? You bet it is. What's that? Oh. Sorry about that.

I'll tolerate a season filled with six games of Nash in a Red Wings sweater and no, I wouldn't dread those games. In fact, I'd go to all three "homecoming" games (and buy $9 beers) with a smile on my face if I know that the Red Wings have called off the dogs on realignment . . . . assuming I could get a ticket to those games. (That would be less of a certainty than realignment.) If only one team goes to the East in realignment, a very real scenario, we're toast. With the Wings standing behind us in line, we're in. And even if ultimately both Columbus and Detroit get moved eastward, the comfort of knowing Detroit won't throw a pity party and arm-twist their way to the East at our expense would be worth it. 

A move to the Eastern Conference would mean far more to the future health of the Blue Jackets than keeping Nash outside of Detroit. In fact, I'd be willing to discount the deal somewhat in terms of players/prospects/picks. Give me two decent players, a prospect and the rights to the "promise" and I'm a camper. (There's no happy in this equation, so that's as good as it's going to get.)

Nash is a lemon. Moving ahead of the Red Wings in the realignment pecking order is lemonade. Who wants some?