A former Olympian shared some time at Ohio State Wednesday.
Current Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson showed off his personality when he grabbed boxes of steaming pizza and handed them out to the line of eager fans.
Students like Scott Pancoast, a third-year in natural resource management, lined up to meet No. 7 for the CBJ.
Pancoast said he has been a fan of the Blue Jackets for the past three years but had never gotten a player’s autograph before.
“This is my first time actually meeting a Jacket,” Pancoast said. “The appeal (of hockey) is going down to Nationwide (Arena) and watching the games and having fun.”
Johnson spent two years on the University of Michigan team before deciding he was ready to sign with a NHL team.
Despite Johnson playing for the Wolverines, he said he knew it would be a lot of fun to come meet students on OSU’s campus.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Ohio State, especially with the rivalry,” Johnson said. “I thought they were kidding at first when they asked me, but I jumped all over it when I realized they were serious.”
Students were not the only ones who were attracted to the event.
Emily Murphy of Dublin, Ohio, came to get her memorabilia signed. From Texas originally, Murphy said she is now a die-hard Blue Jackets fan.
“He’s (Johnson) an Olympian so it’s hard not to follow him,” Murphy said. “The Blue Jackets make Columbus feel like home.”
Johnson was not among the names selected to represent the USA in Sochi but he isn’t letting that fact get him down.
“You can’t let other people’s decisions defeat you or define you,” Johnson said. “Once an Olympian, always an Olympian.”
The CBJ are set to play the Washington Capitals Friday at Nationwide Arena at 7 p.m. and are looking to extend their four-game winning streak.
Jim Riley, manager of marketing for the CBJ, said the streak has increased student ticket sales.
“For our game against (the) Carolina (Hurricanes) … we had an attendance record for the rush program,” Riley said. “The rush program allows students to see an NHL game for only 15 or (25) dollars.”
Johnson said even with a big crowd during a game, he keeps calm.
“During a game, you try not to be thinking at all,” Johnson said. “You go out there and have fun and do what you’ve been doing for years.”
Editor’s note: This story should have reflected that the reporter also accepted/receiv
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