The only active NHL team in the state of Ohio is the Columbus Blue Jackets. You would think Cleveland would have a team, and they once did, but they haven’t since the Barons folded in 1978. The Barons didn’t relocate or rebrand or go into a holding pattern like the NFL’s Browns from 1995-1999 — they outright closed up shop. It was a different era for sports then, to be sure.
I enjoyed my visit to Columbus and almost everyone I encountered there was friendly. I even wore a gold Nashville Predators jersey to the Blue Jackets/Coyotes game I attended thinking I might get some cheap heat. But besides a few confused looks and a couple of “Were you confused about who was playing?” comments, I only had one guy talk smack to me, and that was at the very end after they showed on the big screen that the Preds were coming to town for the next game… and he was fueled with plenty of liquid courage.
The game itself had more fights (1) than non-shootout goals (0), but the girl who accompanied me there had a blast… and she didn’t know much about the sport at all and had never been to a hockey game in person. I tried my best to explain things like icing, offsides, etc., though I think the fight is what really won her over. She seemed surprised that the refs let them battle it out, but I explained how it’s just part of how things go in the NHL and the equivalent of a pressure valve. I don’t think she knew exactly what I meant by that, but she was able to appreciate the world-class speed that the guys played with and how the experience is something that doesn’t fully translate on television, even on a large HDTV.
With that in mind, enjoy the two sports radio IDs included in today’s Columbus update. My visit happened a few weeks too early to get a legal ID of the brand new 95.5 the Game (WHOK-FM, soon to become either WZOH or WZOH-FM as per this article on Radio Insight), but reception for 95.5 FM at the downtown Red Roof Inn where we stayed (in walking distance to the arena) was iffy at best, so it might not have mattered even if the flip had happened before the trip.
But if that means an excuse to visit Columbus again sometime soon, I won’t mind — it’s a fun city. Maybe I’ll be able to head up there later this year to see a Columbus Crew MLS game. I never made it to a Tampa Bay Mutiny game when I moved there in April 2001, and much like the 1978 Cleveland Barons, the Mutiny folded at the end of the 2001 season and I missed out on my chance to see them in person. As my late Grandma Pickney used to say: you snooze, you lose.