Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Rick Nash Mess

The trade deadline completed this afternoon without the Blue Jackets finding a quality suitor for current captain and franchise winger Rick Nash.  In a post deadline interview, General Manager Scott Howson acknowledged the origin of the Rick Nash trade was brought upon by the captain himself, not the team.  Some would argue the decision by Howson would lead to diminished value for Nash on the trade market, but I am under the impression this will force Nash's hand, causing him to increase the number of teams he would be willing to be traded to.  The revelation of Nash wanting out however, leaves confusion and dissatisfaction among the fan base, and at least in my case, a serious concern as to how Rick Nash should be managed from this point of the season until the day he is traded.

First, I want to discuss what this bit of information means to me, mostly as a fan, but simply as a viewer of the team trying to exist in a league full of history and tradition.  I believe the decision by Rick Nash to demand (or I suppose 'ask') for a trade is an act of quitting on his part, and a very selfish one at that.  He signed an eight year 62.4 million dollar contract extension (making him the 5th highest cap hit in the NHL) with most of the current management group in place less than two seasons ago.  He committed himself to eight years of Columbus Blue Jackets with the understanding that it would be a process, and I believe fans should be furious with him for not honouring that deal.  Some will argue that he 'deserves better' and has 'given the team enough' but I think he had every chance to make his luck during the last couple years with this team.

As much as I can understand the secrecy of the situation at hand, I believe that fans deserved to know that Nash was not willing to play out the contract he signed, and lead this team back to the playoffs.  I found his captaincy to be seriously lacking recently, and CTF has posted a number of pieces this year acknowledging the feeling that Nash was playing well below his true potential.  These pieces were not designed to spit venom on him as a person, but simply point out that his best games could still be ahead of him, pending a serious amount of effort on his part.  It is that early season acknowledgement of mediocrity  that solidifies my opinion that he has given up on this team.

Further on today, I believe Howson felt his decision was forced by the comments made by Rick Nash's agent this weekend, suggesting that the list of teams provided by them would not change by the summer.  It seemed from the beginning to be a situation where neither the team nor Nash would admit to being the catalyst in the decision to move him, and it was up until the comments made by Resnick that both sides respected the delicacy of the situation.  With that, I have absolutely no issue with Scott Howson clarifying who was driving this trade necessity, and I am very glad to know that Nash wants out, not the other way around.  This move clearly removes Nash as the victim in this situation, and will make it easier for fans to not resent the team for making the move.

Where to go from here

At this point, all remaining games played by Rick Nash in a Blue Jackets jersey are hollow.  With a pending trade on the horizon in likely the early off season, he is no longer the face of the franchise.  He is no longer a leader of the team, and I hope the captaincy is removed.  They have a very capable leader in Prospal who can take "C" for the remainder of the season, and possibly continue that position through his additional year with the team.  What can begin happening at this point, is full accountability of every player in the locker room.

They have brought in pure character players in Johnson, Prospal, and Wisniewski.  These are in addition to current character players like MacKenzie and Dorsett who play with full effort in almost every shift of every game.  They are building the framework of a team that works for each other and plays as a full unit, rather than relying solely on certain talents to take over games.  While I don't have access to Howson/Patrick's intentions on their building process, it would seem that players like Nash are not going to be a part of it.  Where Nash couldn't find a linemate to make him better, I suspect the additions to the lineup will be players who make those around them better.

To the presentation of the team, I believe this is an excellent step in the right direction.  There has long been commentary about the team not having an identity, and I wonder if Nash has been hindering that.  Where people see him as being above many of his teammates, they can now work as a core to create their own image.  With that in mind, it is not to suggest that star players will not exist on the team, considering guys like Johansen and likely soon to be drafted Yakupov appear to have top tier upsides.  With the production of an identity in the next year or so, the team can open the door to top tier players who will work to fit into their system, rather than them trying to fit the system to a couple of players.

This commentary is not designed to completely remove all blame from Scott Howson and his team in hockey operations.  He has taken some risks and very few have truly panned out, but I believe with the addition of a first overall pick, and the plethora of top tier talent returning in a deal for Rick Nash, he will have the quality pieces needed to really design a team worth watching.  He will also be out from under an eight million dollar cap hit, among other contracts (Huselius, I'm looking at you) that have made this a cap team only on paper, rarely on the ice.  I am prepared to see what type of atmosphere can be created without the Nash captaincy leading the charge, and I think based on Howson's refusal to receive less than fair value for Nash gives him through the summer and into next season before I join the group demanding a GM change.

Carry the Flag.


  1. Maybe Howson got a solid offer from a team, not on Nash's list, and Nash said, no?

    I also would have to imagine "letting the cat out of the bag" was a group decision by CBJ management.

    Its upsetting its gotten to this point, but I believe getting 3-4 pieces for Nash will help the CBJ.

    1. I agree on all. I doubt this was a decision made solely by Howson and I absolutely believe that getting him off this roster and replacing him with top tier assets will be the best thing for this group of people.

  2. I really don't agree with anything you said.sorry

  3. I can't agree with putting blame on Nash, nor do I view this as Nash being disloyal or not playing out his contract. He has spent his career in the loyal, blind hope of being given a team to play with. He can't be the entire offense, play defense and play goaltending. His best linemate in club history was a mopey Jeff Carter or Umberger/Vermette? Seriously? Do you also want him to do draft scouting, sign free agents and manage the salary cap? C'mon.

    This blunder lies at the feet of Scott Howson, and how he handled it has thrown Rick Nash under the bus. You deal with your franchise dysfunctional tendencies internally, you don't fight your wars in the media. You leave some deal of secrecy as to who asked for what and you let everybody go about their business. Nash would have licked his wounds and carried on. His value would have remained, he's a highly respected hockey player. He would have been moved for a reasonable amount at the draft.

    Now you've made Nash look like the villain and ensured that he'll never be the same toward the franchise ever again. You’ve shot yourself in the foot for any actual trade value as teams know you just want to get rid of him. Now you've freed Nash up to talk about what a miserable job Howson has done running the team into the ground. He won't while in Columbus (he's better than that) but he could drop hints in his next home.

    It's a pathetic joke that shows the kind of idiotic management running the show in Columbus, who can't handle this kind of thing. If this isn't throwing somebody under the bus, completely botching the post-deadline press conference, then we’re talking in completely different directions here. This is on Scott Howson, plain and simple.

    1. I can bet Nash was consulted before each and every big move (Carter, Wiz, etc) that the team made this summer.. I can bet he signed off on each of them.

      Also, Derick Brassard has played better than Nash lately, yet it only caused Nash to play better for a brief moment. Eventually the onus needs to fall on Nash himself for not even matching his quality of play from earlier seasons where he had no one to play with. Eventually he should have to answer to his inability to play in all zones and create offense rather than be the benefactor of quality passing in order to score. At some point, he should have to answer for the possessions equating to turnovers at the blueline.

      Nash forcing the team to only look to a handful of options in trade, for an 8 million dollar cap hit, is him being the villan. That comment wasn't about Nash, it was about the team moving forward. The Nash era is dead in Columbus, and he in large part has been the driving force.

  4. Who can blame Nasher for wanting out of this mess!?!? Here is a guy who has put up with lousy management since the first day he arrived on the scene!! Who would have ever thought that Blue Jacket fans would long for the days of Dougie Mac?? If he really did approach ownership and ask for Priest and Howson to be fired, or trade him, I cant blame him. Nash obviously loves this city and this team, but even the most loyal of workers after putting up with terrible management year after year, is going to cut their losses and want out if ownership doesnt do something to make the place better! HOPEFULLY, this is the wake up call to ownership to get rid of Priest and Howson, install Patrick as GM, and bring a team president in who will install some life into the organization, and Nationwide Arena!!! Look at the moves Howson has made, how many of them have had a good return, getting Nikitin for Kris Russell and picking up Sanford, have prb been his best moves, and thats HORRIBLE! He fires Hitch, and lets Noel go, umm they're both making the playoffs this season, then he hires Arniel, we see how that went, oh by the way the two coaches he didnt get, well Dineen and the Panthers are in the playoffs, and Boucher has one of the best younger teams in TB. OWNERSHIP, needs to right the ship, or sell the team to someone who cares about the product being put on the ice!! We have 2 first, and 2 second round picks in the upcoming draft, and have 19mil projected cap space next year, with Nash's contract. Reward his loyalty and get rid of the garbage at the top, and rebuild around your captain!!!

    1. If he was tired of it, he should have never signed that contract a few years back...or it should have been a 3-year deal.

      He is the Captain of the team...he should act like it. Ultimately, there has to be some accountability with the players...Nash has never been held accountable for anything in his years here. Well, Rick is about to be held accountable for his actions. Too bad it is for his off-ice demeanor.

    2. Howson brought in Wiz, a pure character guy who plays with his heart on his sleeve, along with Prospal and apparently it's the same from Johnson. Those are very strong acquisitions that help to build a quality locker room.

      Also, you talk about dropping Patrick in as GM, but considering Patrick is currently an advisor, he is more than likely a huge part of the decisions Howson is making. That is what Columbus needs to do. They need to bring in additional experience at the top end, just like most other teams do.

      Again, I find it very interesting that your finger points to everyone but Nash in this, as though his play has been strong throughout. In reality, he has not played even near his potential for a long time.