Getting To Know The Neighbors: Interview with Union & Blue


It’s one thing to be a fan of a team, it’s another to be a fan of the game. Here at Octopus Thrower, we look to bring to you coverage and opinions of the team we follow the closest: The Detroit Red Wings. But what about when you want to know more about other teams? Where do you go from there? Why to other sites in the FanSided Network of course!

Tyler West is a Blue Jackets fan and he writes at the FanSided site Union & Blue. I enjoy his writing and admire his ability to be critical of his own favorite team. He’s quick to point out when things are going well, as well as when changes are needed. We decided to collaborate and promote each other’s sites a little bit. I talked to Tyler about what’s going on with the Blue Jackets and his thoughts on the Red Wings and Michigan in general. Should you choose to do so (and I recommend you do)  you can follow him on twitter at @_westtyler

1. When and how did you before a hockey fan and a blue jackets fan at that?

"Hockey is definitely not in my blood. I grew up playing basketball. I didn’t start watching hockey until my senior year of high school. I just happened to get tickets to the Blue Jackets game. I went and fell in love with the sport. I’m a “root for your home team” kind of guy, so it’s always been a no-brainer that the Blue Jackets were my team."


2. What sets Union & Blue apart as far as other CBJ blogs are concerned.

"I think Union and Blue sets itself apart in a couple different ways. First, we’re fans. I don’t work for the Blue Jackets, so I definitely don’t have to cheerlead for them or spin anything. If they’re playing poorly, we’ll call them out. I think it’s important to have cheerleading sites and fan accounts, such as the CBJ Artillery, but I think it’s also imperative that we have objective blogs like our own. Secondly, we’re a blog made up of differing opinions. We don’t have an agenda and we’re not all on the same page. And that’s a good thing. So, as a reader, you’ll find that our blog may have opposing view points on the same issues. I think it makes our content as strong as possible."


3. Tell us some ways that the Blue Jackets fanbase is unique and why those outside of Columbus should care.

"Blue Jackets fans know what the rest of the hockey world thinks of them. And for the longest time it was either something bad, or nothing at all. So with that we have all banded together as one. Fan accounts such as the CBJ artillery created the “5th Line Movement” which had a huge effect on the organization and the players during the playoffs. As for those outside of Columbus? They should care because the 5th line movement is just starting. If they’re a fan of hockey and passion they need to stay tuned."


4. So many Ohioans seem to hate on the Red Wings. What’s up with that?

"Sorry about that! Well…not really. I think the Michigan aspect of it plays a part. Ohioans tend to lump the University of Michigan with the Red Wings and that’s always a recipe for hatred. Plus, the Wings kept beating us! All we wanted was a rivalry and they never seemed interested. So with the recent success of the Jackets, victories against Detroit seem that much sweeter."


5. What’s your perspective been like on Red Wings fans and the organization as a whole?

"I have nothing but respect for the Red Wings organization and the city of Detroit. I’m a fan of the game and Detroit is an original six team. It’s impossible not to have tremendous admiration. As for the fans? That’s a different story! No, I’m joking. I know a lot of Blue Jackets fan hate Red Wings fans. I suppose it has to do with the amount of red sweaters in Nationwide Arena over the years. But my disdain for that situation has always been directed at the play of the Jackets or the lack of Jackets fans for that, never at the Red Wings fans for showing up. I don’t blame them."


6. Have you had a chance to take in a game at Joe Louis Arena, and if so what did you think?

"Unfortunately I have not. My fiance and I have talked about making a trip up north to see the Jackets play at the Joe. As I said, I have nothing but respect for the city of Detroit and would love to check out a game in the Joe. There’s so much American and hockey history in that city it would be an honor to see it for myself."


7. Do you think the Blue Jackets and the Red Wings stand a chance at growing into legitimate rivals?

"I don’t know if the Blue Jackets are interested anymore, to be honest. Columbus begs for a rivalry with Detroit for years and the moment we finally get competitive, our interests shift to other teams. Not being in the same division, in my opinion, will throw water on any potential fire between the teams. We are now looking to teams like the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins as rivals. The Flyers are getting a mention now, too. Eventually Columbus and Detroit will meet in the playoffs again. But I think only until then will we see a rivalry actually blossom."


8. What sort of things does it look like the Jackets are doing to improve this off season?

"I’ve been very pleased with the off-season moves from the Blue Jackets camp. Dumping R.J. Umberger and getting Scott Harntell in the process? ‘Nuff said on that one. Ryan Johansen may not be re-signed yet, but it will happen. I was worried for a little bit but I have confidence in it happening in the near future. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen letting Derek Mackenzie, Blake Comeau, and Jack Skille go was a sign of confidence in our depth. So was hiring on our AHL coach Brad Larsen as assistant coach. For the first time it really feels like the future, not only the present, is promising."