#CBJ Community Spotlight: @DarkBlueJacket (Tom Fellrath)

Today’s edition of the #CBJ Community Spotlight features probably the most well-known #CBJ blogger around the hockey community, Tom Fellrath (a.k.a. Dark Blue Jacket).

Who is Tom? In his own words:

“That’s me on the right, @GallosDBJ on the left, in our Sunday finest.”

A CBJ fan, a quarter-season ticket package holder up in the defend-twice balcony. A Blue Jackets fan blogger since September 2009 at darkbluejacket.com and now performing more of the same starting this offseason at FoxSportsOhio.com. Co-organizer of CannonFest. I went on at length about myself at this post, so instead I’ll use this to say that I wasn’t born a hockey fan but have grown to enjoy the game a great deal.

More importantly, I appreciate what the Columbus Blue Jackets and major league sports can accomplish for the City of Columbus (and central Ohio) as a driver of community prestige, influence and perhaps even economic development. There’s so much more to the Blue Jackets story than just 23 guys taking the ice at Nationwide Arena 40-odd times a year. I find that fascinating.

On to the questions!

The easy questions:

1. Favorite #CBJ player & why:

Don’t really have one. As I alluded above, I’m a fan of the idea of the Columbus Blue Jackets and, when they become a successful franchise, what that could mean for this great community.

2. Favorite non-#CBJ player & why:

Hmmm…let’s go with Sergei Fedorov. If not for Sergei and my latent admiration for the Detroit “Red Army” Wings of the 90′s, I probably would never have attended a Blue Jackets game. I went to see Fedorov, stayed for the Blue Jackets.

3. Favorite #CBJ moment:

Tie, both mentioned in my Irish wake for the Ken Hitchcock CBJ coaching tenure:

1) 2009 Playoffs Game 4, especially the back half of the game. It was insane. Never seen/heard anything like it.
1a) The March 2009 shootout win over Pittsburgh in The Best Week Ever in CBJ history. Mason stones both Malkin and Crosby in that shootout.

Honorable mention: I had a terrific time at the February 2012 win over San Jose where Jeff Carter scored a hat trick on his way out of town. One of the precious few times this past season where I had nothing but fun. And this whole “father-son hockey thing” is becoming pretty cool.

4. Favorite general hockey moment:

Generally speaking, I enjoy the hoisting of the Stanley Cup a great deal. And the CBC’s post-Stanley Cup montage puts CBS’s “One Shining Moment” post-NCAA hoops championship video to shame.

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

Honestly, I’m not sure I’d be a hockey fan. I got into the team because they were here in town. But if I was to remain a fan, it would most likely be either the Red Wings or Bruins (for those are my familial roots) or one of the Canadian teams with some history – Toronto or Montreal. I have a very soft spot for both of those franchises.

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

I own roughly 20 hockey sweaters and wear them nearly every day when the weather is cold. Hands down, though, my favorite non-CBJ sweater is the Todd MacFarlane-era Edmonton Oilers alternate. Putting aside traditionalist sentimentality, I’m not sure a finer sweater was ever designed. (If you want to learn more about the sweater and its design, check out this link.)

Some tougher questions:

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

  • By the end of 2012-13: Improvement in all aspects of the game, lifting the CBJ out of 26th in goals for and 28th in goals against as well as out of 30th in the standings. Playoffs a bonus. Development of a discernible on-ice identity – one with staying power – a necessity.
  • By the end of 2015-16: Legitimate playoff team. Stats irrelevant at that point – standings points and playoff wins über alles.
  • By the end of 2017-18: Stanley Cup contender, if not a win.

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

Probably a scorer, because I’m so scared that the team has been systematically jettisoning all of its scoring punch and doesn’t have the defense to win 1-0 and 2-1 games for an entire season. So pick your poison: Who’s going to score the most goals?

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

Intentionally tanking to get a draft pick would probably crush the increasingly fragile fanbase. The team needs to get its act together ASAP.

But the question is moot because the league is going to lock out the players, right? ;-)

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

I wouldn’t dare.

Final questions:

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

I’ve poked my nose in on this series and note many of the same names popping up again and again, so permit me to broaden everyone’s horizons:

  1. @GallosDBJ – One of the most insightful people on things CBJ-related that I know. He doesn’t tweet a lot, but he is worth a follow because he speaks from fan experience when he does.
  2. @techknowgn – One of the original Jacket Backers, again full of insight and fan experience. He likes biking too, if that means anything to your readers.
  3. @KatyLovesHockey – The Twitter SuperFan for the AHL Springfield Falcons. Not afraid to tell it like it is out on The Farm (or, as Mike Commodore referenced it, “In The Jungle”). She also has an eye for who’s going to be up-and-coming in Columbus as well.
  4. @RickGethin – The best CBJ beat writer not currently on the CBJ beat. Which needs to change ASAP. Plus, you never, EVER bet against Rick. He ALWAYS wins.
  5. @CBJProspects – I know he’s received love from others in this series, but no one – and I mean NO ONE – tracks Blue Jackets prospects like this guy. It would be wrong not to include him in a top five list.

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

I write at two blogs: The Dark Blue Jacket and Dark Blue Jacket Plus at Fox Sports Ohio. Like my compadres at DBJ, I write because it is fun. It is gratifying to know that so many people read, if not enjoy, the blogs. As for other blogs:

  • If you’re not reading Matt Wagner’s (@BZArcher) “Shrapnel” summaries at The Cannon, do so. Period.
  • Greg May’s Full Mental Jackets isn’t the most prolific blog, but he more than makes up for quantity with quality. And remember, the man invented the all-important “Drinks On Goal” hockey stat. (Something Greg and I have explored time and again.)
  • Matt Souva’s In Words and Phrases has had a run of outstanding blog pieces related to the Blue Jackets since the end of the season. It’s always enjoyable to see a guy who, like Andy Krygier (@AKrygier), can not just regurgitate statistics but bring forth meaning from what he sees and share that with the reader. I’ll always make time to read work like that.

13. Any final thoughts… on anything?

I’ve shied away from advertising for my new employer, but you’ve made it this far…so allow me to offer some thoughts on Fox Sports Ohio.

Since starting The Dark Blue Jacket, I’ve turned down offers to affiliate my blog with or write for a host of national blogs and/or blog networks. Essentially, I’ve never seen sufficient value in trading off my independence for the affiliation. Until now…and I hope you agree with my feeling that FSO hasn’t asked me to be anything that I’m not. The only trade-off that I’ve felt comes from having to split my CBJ fan blog content into two locations.

Fox Sports Ohio is committed to being a part of the #CBJ community on Twitter – just like they are with Ohio’s other major league college and professional sports teams. The Blue Jackets obviously are special to the network because FSO also has the team’s television broadcast rights, but FSO is just plain serious about Ohio sports and Ohio’s community of sports fans in general.

When it comes to the Blue Jackets and FSO’s online/fan presence, my Dark Blue Jacket Plus blog at FSO is only the tip of the iceberg. I’m excited about the plans that have been shared with me and look forward to helping present them to the Blue Jackets fanbase as time moves along. We’re going to have a lot of fun.

So…what are we all going to do to make sure there’s no lockout?

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