#CBJ Community Spotlight: @AlisonL (Alison Lukan)

The final #CBJ Community Spotlight for this week focuses on twitter-mom and tweet-up organizer, Alison Lukan (@AlisonL).

Who is Alison? In her own words:

Alison with Derek Dorsett

I’m a life long lover of sports (even was named “Biggest Sports Fan” in that high school superlatives thing that happens) who grew up on football and later played lacrosse as much as I could. As a born and raised resident of Columbus, I’ll admit I was Buckeye bred, but I remember when the CHILL came to town and, back then, because there wasn’t much to do, we went to games and loved having another sport in town.

I came back to Columbus in 2002 from living in a variety of places, and am now married to the most patient man in the world, Stephen (I mean, c’mon – he has to live with me 24/7!). We also have a dog, Nittany, or Nitters, who runs the house. We’re at as many CBJ games as our schedule (and budget) allow and one of my favorite perks of loving this team has been meeting a lot of tremendous people who I’ve gotten to know as friends. Aside from football and hockey fandom, I run a lot, bike a lot, eat a lot and I’m currently on a mission to someday adequately play hockey…though that is not going so well just yet ;)

On to the questions!

The easy questions:

1. Favorite #CBJ player & why:

Um. Seriously? ;) My very favorite ever player is Derek Dorsett. This is not news. I have waxed poetic for far too long and far too many tweets about how I like #DD #becausehesawesome, so I’ll try to be brief. But to recap, seriously, Dorse gives 110% to every second he’s on the ice. He maintains a level of dedication and humility that is engaging. He has continued to improve his game – something that has been missing on our roster as of late. His energy is contagious and I think he’s maturing into someone who can be a big part of the “new guard” for the CBJ. He likes Columbus, he lives here the majority of the year and I think he personifies the heart of what this team needs. [Also I think I deserve credit for how brief that actually was ;) ]

2. Favorite non-#CBJ player & why:

Ken Dryden. In thinking about who to name, apparently I am fascinated with Goalies, but Ken is a guy who I just find incredible. He played out of his mind (admittedly through a Canadiens dynasty), winning 6 Stanley Cups and was not only a goalie, but became a lawyer, a writer and ultimately a politician. I often point to his book, “The Game” as something every hockey fan should read. Its not only an insight into the mind of a goalkeeper, but insight into the game we love. What he shares helps you understand how much of what we think goes on is wrong. Coaching, team dynamic, the evolution of a career, the balance of skill versus heart…discussion of it all is in there. Read it.

Other than that, I’m not gonna name anyone. Season in and out, pretty much the only team, and the only sweater I’m cheering for (or care about) is the CBJ.

3. Favorite #CBJ moment:

I’m gonna go with April 8, 2009 when we clinched. Stephen and I were at friends who couldn’t care less about hockey. We were watching the game on an old tv that cut off the top of the screen so we couldn’t even see the clock. By the time that game ended, everyone was cheering, watching the game and we had a celebration in a small living room in front of that old tv. The night was just so euphoric and hopeful – and people who thought they didn’t like hockey did by the end of the game. That team’s hard work was rewarded and we had finally made the playoffs.

4. Favorite general hockey moment:

I’d have to say attending a Colgate hockey game in 1992. The why of how that came to be my activity that weekend given that I lived in Virginia shall go undisclosed, but I remember standing (yep – standing – the whole time) in the last row of a small hockey barn only 10 or so rows deep. The energy of the game was so close, and the air was so crisp. It was the most enveloping sports experience I have had in my life and it was the first time I saw hockey for hockey.

5. Team you would root for if #CBJ had never existed (not moved):

When I moved away from Columbus for a spell, I lived in Washington DC. I was lucky enough to go to Caps games…back in the late 90s. DC is still a special place to me, and many of my friends who are still there also root for the team so I guess it would be them.

6. Favorite non-#CBJ jersey (in general, not that you own):

I am particularly proud of the jersey of the first ever hockey team on which I play (poorly ;) )…so I’d say I have a special love for my Team B-Dubs jersey. But as for the NHL, I am massive fan of the Chicago alternates and the Candiens home jersey. Its something about that center stripe that just screams “classic hockey” to me. Call me strange…

Some tougher questions:

7. What are your expectations for the #CBJ in the next 1, 3 and 5 years:

  • 1 Year: I think the short term is critical for this team. We need an identity and consistency in drafting, trading players, and execution on ice. Ever an optimist, I see positive signs for these things to start happening – Prospal as on-ice leadership for the short term, opening the door in two years for our next proven long term leader; so many guys stepping up; Patrick and hopefully the infusion of more hockey experience into the front office & hockey ops; and (hopefully) a strong draft.
  • 3 Years: In three years, I feel we must be at a point where an identity is forming, we’re consistently getting better and reaching playoff berths.
  • 5 years? well, to be honest, still a bit aggressive for a Cup, but definitely going deep into playoff rounds and if the hockey gods decide to finally give us a break…who knows?

8. If you were GM of the #CBJ, who do you draft at second overall & why:

Galchenyuk. Yep. This isn’t surprising. I’d like to say that we’ll somehow get Nail but this year has proven to me to expect nothing other than what you can assure is possible – and we don’t have the #1 pick.

9. Would you rather see the #CBJ be more competitive next season but miss the playoffs or get another high draft pick & why:

More competitive. First and foremost, I have long been a believer that true talent – when acquired via draft – requires development. A) we don’t have that time right now and B) We are still maturing our development system.

Secondly, I believe that all parts of the CBJ “world” need to see great progress after the 2011-12 season. Being more competitive shows that we are making substantive changes top to bottom and, the drive to a playoff – even if missed – is far more exciting than “playing out the string”.

Growing THAT kind of excitement – versus “draft” excitement shows we are doing better, builds a fan base and reinvigorates those who’ve hung on all this time. (Yes, I know its not enough, but still, I’d rather have that then high draft picks)

10. Can you list something(s) that you like and something(s) you’d like to see changed with the #CBJ community:

What I really like is the camraderie that developed. Part of why folks get together behind the Cannon at games and do #tweetups is to put faces to names and meet folks we interact with all the time and find some support! ;) We had our own special brand of hell this year – we got mocked – a lot. So it was great to see that when the chips are down, we’ve got each other’s backs and we’ll see each other through the rough patches. I don’t catagorize people as just hockey friends – they’re truly friends. I encourage anyone who ever wants to come to any gathering of fans to join in. First introductions are kind of awkward of course, but there are a ton of great people to meet.

On the flip side, I think the past year in particular has provided many topics that have divided the community in terms of how they view events. I’m someone who knows that I DON’T know a lot of stuff…I welcome hearty debate…I wish the community could have more conversation which doesn’t devolve into sniping and hurt feelings. If you talk hockey to me, I will be passionate and adamant, but I will hear you out and if you’re right, I’ll be happy to have learned from you. If I offend you, you are welcome to call me on it. At the end of the day, hockey is something we’ve each chosen as entertainment -its not meant to be something to upset us or worse yet severely affect our overall state of mind or relationships. Life is too short.

Finally, if I’ve learned nothing in the past four months, playing hockey is HARD. And if I can imagine nothing else, trying to run a hockey organization – or any business for that matter – is even harder. I’m all for learning lessons from the past, and I get frustration (oh I get it) but if performing at a champion standard in many of these roles was easy, we’d all be doing it. We’re a bit too quick to criticize in hurtful non-constructive ways, I think. As a general rule, I try to remember that at the end of the day these are people trying to do a job – even if they fail, they’re still people. Some of the vitriol can go too far sometimes. I’m all for passion – just not the hatred.

Final questions:

11. Who are 5 #CBJ twitter accounts you think more people should be following?

This is so hard. Honestly, on any given day so many people say something profound or just downright hilarious. Who do I recommend you follow? Go look at who I’m following. Every single person on that list engages me most every day. That’s why I follow them.

So let me offer some sub-lists – for hockey knowledge:
1a. there’s my crew at @UnionblueCBJ@Canadan82, @TheCoachUB, @CBJProspects (that all counts as one ;) )
1b. Definitely follow @CBJ_DJ – the heart of the Nationwide Arena experience – he’s almost as important as the Cannon ;)
1c. @greegor23
2. @bzarcher
3. @RobMixer
4. @Derdrache
5. @theory_of_ice

For great “come back to earth, stop being crazy” knowledge (while making you laugh)…I also always look to @frickindannie, @CPFro3, @SirchadlyOC, @akrygier and @johntkemp.

12. Any shout outs you want to give or blogs/twitter accounts you want to help promote?

I’m very very proud of thenionblue.com obviously.

You’re missing out if you don’t read jacketscannon.com (“boom” – seriously, its their tagline. Love it), and one site that always makes me smile either in agreement, amazement or amusement is martinihockey.net. Always good stuff – add it to your readers.

One more site that people may know about but I like to get the word out is Lori Schmidt’s blog at fearthehat.wordpress.com She talks other sports too but her CBJ stuff is top notch.

I still have a bunch of other sites in my reader but some of you are taking an extended hiatus ;) There are a lot of good writers in CBJ land – I encourage you all to get back to (or start!) writing!

Finally – its important that I acknowledge @DarkBlueJacket who has done so much for me, he is someone who I consider a true friend for many many reasons.

13. Any final thoughts… on anything?

Find good, solid resources for knowledge and use them. Learn who you trust for hockey insight and learn a little bit more about the game every day. Don’t let the haters or rumor mongers (who don’t even have press credentials or a real website) get you all riled up. Stuff’s gonna happen, but base your opinion on info you can back up – don’t let the trolls/media/rumor sites play you ;)

Also, I’d like to say, that while we all have last year as an object lesson to not be overly optimistic, I remain a devoted fan of the Blue Jackets who believes that this team can turn it around and begin to achieve success on a regular basis. I’m not absolving mistakes that have been made (or will be in the future), but I do feel tremendously lucky to have live, professional hockey in my own city that I can go see. I’m always going to be Carrying the Flag!

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