Sooo … this isn't really the start to the season the Blue Jackets were expecting.

Sooo … this isn’t really the start to the season the Blue Jackets were expecting.

The new-look team is off to a franchise-worst start.

Adding insult to injury, after a typical opening night sell-out — complete with an elaborate goose bump-inducing introduction of the 2011-12 team — home crowds have been sparse at best. A record-low crowd of 8,986 turned up for the third home game of the season.

Simply put, the product on the ice needs to improve (and fast) to get butts back in those seats at Nationwide. Fortunately, the Jackets always have an array of deals and game-night promotions to sweeten the pot. Here are some of this year’s highlights.

Cheap seats

The standby here is the $10 Huntington Green Seats promotion. Two hours before each home game, you can get tickets to 250 upper-bowl seats for less than a price of a 3D movie ticket. You’ll need to show up early for a shot, especially if the team starts winning.

I don’t miss a diet of ramen and cheap beer, but the White Castle Rush CBJ Student Tickets make me want a college ID. Available an hour before home games or online ( with a valid college or high school ID, students can get $15 seats in the upper level or lower-bowl tickets at $25 — easily the cheapest way to get really close to the ice.

Player jersey auctions

Fans looking for real one-of-a-kind team keepsakes love these player-worn jersey auctions. Members of the team will wear special jerseys (“sweaters” to our Canadian friends) during warm-ups which will then be auctioned to fans. Yes, you might get to buy a little bit of Rick Nash’s sweat.

Purple jerseys will be auctioned during Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings for Hockey Fights Cancer Night, and special camouflage jerseys are on deck for Military Appreciation Night on Nov. 10, when the Jackets play the Chicago Blackhawks.

Swag, swag, swag

People love free stuff. And it feels like there’s always someone handing you some when you walk in Nationwide.

A free schedule poster is on deck for the October 30 game, with the added adorable bonus that costumed kids under 12 get in free with an adult. You can snag team calendars (Dec. 17, 27) and yearbooks (Jan. 14), too.

My favorite remains the Fan Appreciation Night at the end of the regular season. Win the jerseys off the players’ backs! Literally!

Photo credit: Columbus Blue Jackets