On Friday, the NHL canceled the 2012-13 schedule through Nov. 1, bringing the grand total of games missed to 135. Friday was supposed to be the home opener at Nationwide Arena for the Columbus Blue Jackets as they hosted the Vancouver Canucks.
To drown their sorrows, fans gathered at R Bar, the local establishment right near Nationwide to ponder what might have happened against the defending Presidents' Trophy winners. But it wasn't just going to be a normal night at R Bar. The place had organized an event surrounding the X Box simulation of what should have been the game against the Canucks.
Then things -- in the words of Champ Kind -- jumped up a notch.
The team's anthem singer, Leo Welsh, showed up to perform the National Anthem before the "game" and later in the evening members of the Blue Jackets television and radio broadcast teams made an appearance to do some work.
From The Dark Blue Jacket:
Long about the third period, something momentous happened. The 'boys' showed up. That's right. Jeff Rimer, Bill Davidge, and George Matthews all came to participate in the camaraderie of the night. It was great having them in the bar that night. But then the treat started. From their well deserved perch at the bar, George Matthews and Bill Davidge proceeded to call the simulated game. For yours truly this was a blast from the past back to old radio days. Additionally, there are certain freedoms that happen when one is not subject to FCC regs on over the air broadcasts, and George and Bill took perfect advantage of the liberties to give an exciting and heartfelt call to the simulated game, supported by raucous cheering of the patrons.
Blue Jackets blog Arch City Army shot a quick video of the festivities:
The EA Sports game kept its realism and the Canucks were victorious in the end, but on the day when the future of the actual hockey season was put further in doubt, those Blue Jackets fans got to experience something really cool on what otherwise was going to be a normal Friday night at the bar.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy