Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Follow-up on the Nash Saga

Two days ago I wrote a pretty scathing piece upon hearing that it was Rick Nash, not the Columbus Blue Jackets management who decided that it was time for him to be traded.  It was received with very mixed emotions and I had anticipated that, but I do want to clarify a number of things that brought me to my opinion and why I was as bothered as I was.

To begin, I have followed Nash for over a decade. To say I have been a Rick Nash fan is a pretty heavy understatement.  I have watched him in juniors, playing for Team Canada in a number of different age groups as well as an Olympic team, and I have watched the better part of his career with the Blue Jackets.  I have watched him play some absolutely incredible hockey, and I have watched him play some pretty terrible hockey.  What I believe we have been watching this year, is something right in the middle, and to find out that he has even considered the idea of leaving Columbus in some form or another truly rocked me to my core.

I signed on for Nash's contract extension just like everyone else did.  I wanted him here making brilliant plays and leading this team back to the playoffs, and two days ago, I went from thinking the club was simply doing everything they could to better position themselves, to realizing that it was generated by Nash himself.  Now, I get the argument that Nash didn't 'demand' a trade (he offered it), but when something like this happens, there is no going back.  You can't dangle a player of Nash's caliber on the trade market and then shrug it off if a deal isn't made.  The moment his availability became public was the moment I knew his time in Columbus had an expiry date.

It left me to truly ponder the reasons why Nash would suggest the trade. Why he would be willing to leave a city where he is idolized regardless of his play. Here's what I've come up with:
  • He believes the assets he could provide would benefit the Jackets more than he would.  Therein, he thinks he isn't good enough to be the Blue Jackets franchise player. He costs the team 7.8 million dollars every year on the cap, and has not been able to play to that level of quality.  In his Richard year scoring 41 goals, and the 08/09 season he and Mason put the team on their shoulders, however he has not come close to matching that output nor has he been even remotely as dominant with the puck
  • He doesn't feel like going through another rebuild/reshape.  Feel free to add my name to that list as well, but Nash has decided he doesn't want to have to work in Columbus to create a long term winner anymore.
  • He wants to play for contending team.  A better team.  He no longer wants to be the cornerstone of a franchise and wants to be a second tier player on a team already primed to make the playoffs and compete for a cup.
I really can't fathom any other excuses for him, not to suggest that these are 'good' ones.  This is a guy who is basically never held accountable for a questionable leadership group, nor his poor performances of late.  He is a guy who is idolized in the city, not just for his efforts as a Blue Jacket, but as a member of the community.  He has truly been given everything, yet he doesn't want to honour his deal and help Columbus become a winning hockey team.  The commitment he made only a couple of years ago.

These are the reasons why it cut into me so deep.  We have all as fans committed to him as the franchise cornerstone for eight years, and he doesn't believe that he can deliver.  I don't sympathize for him after his comments yesterday, and while I would never consider booing him, I am not going to attack the fans who feel strongly enough to do so.  I will also not feel sorry for him, because he has had every chance to win here, and considering has hasn't played up to his own potential throughout, I have to think he's only been a part of the enormous on ice problem for this team.

I'd like to share some interesting perspectives on the whole situation:

Rick Nash painted as the villain in Blue Jackets saga
      - Traikos at The National Post 
Traikos notes that Nash's perception could change, and suggests there is some correlation between the situations of Dany Heatley and Lebron James.. And I am not so sure the puzzle pieces don't miss by much

Jackets, Nash Continue to say all the Wrong Things
      - Arace at the Columbus Dispatch
This was a pretty rough shot at the handling of the entire situation, but it's a perfectly fair argument.. This comment was most profound: "The fans are the only people who are ticked off, and they will tell you why. They know a lack of leadership when it pats them, patronizingly, on the back." Sounds like Arace doesn't buy the words of encouragement coming out of Nash.

Standing Behind Scott Howson (And not to Kick Him in the Butt)
      - Ross of NHL Home Ice
Ross discusses the logic behind Howson's honesty, and I agree with most of what he is saying.  There is a lot of great info in this so I won't take an individual comment out - It's worth the read.

Safe to say I am not calling Nash "Heatley" or "James," and I won't be chasing him out of town with a broom, but I do feel a disconnect to him now.  I wish he remained committed to the team, but he has made his decision to move on, and I'll be doing the same. The assets that will be brought in for him in trade will be substantial, and they will work to quickly reshape this team into the playoff team the fans deserve.  Now all I need Nash to do is expand his list so Columbus can get the best return possible. At that point, my high opinion of him may very well return.

Carry the Flag.

1 comment:

  1. The minute I heard Nash had "suggested" the trade, I'd had it. #1 - Fire Howson. We don't need a GM who is learning on the job. #2 - Hire a coach. Maybe Richards, but a coach with NHL experience who has a plan. #3 - Trade Nash to get players whose playing style fits that coach's style. #4 - Start filling the team with players like Vinny, RJ, Dorse and DMac. Players who give a damn and leave it all on the ice.
    Then, I'll be happy to sit through another rebuild.