Monday, February 27, 2012

Trade Deadline Day: The Beginning Of The End (?)

Well, if that was it... Rick Nash's short-handed goal to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a short-lived lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins gave CBJ fans something to remember.

Less than two weeks ago, when I first wrote about the CBJ's most-likely-to-go guys... I honestly thought there was no way.

However, as we wake up this morning on NHL Trade Deadline Day, the Rick Nash Era in Columbus will more than likely end this year. It's just a matter of whether it's today before 3 p.m., or sometime before July 1.

For the reason why, one needs to look no further than Jackets GM Scott Howson.

We knew Howson would dump salary. We knew the Jackets were going to have to get closer to that salary floor than the cap. We knew we would see some marquee names go.

I'm not sure anyone saw Scott Howson screwing up the Trade Deadline situation this badly.

"Rick Nash is untouchable."

"Rick Nash isn't going anywhere."

"Eh... well... now we have a short list of places we can send him."

Then the media starts talking to Nash's agent, who starts yammering about finding a deal that's "fair and equitable for the Blue Jackets."

Now, again, Rick Nash may be just "saying all the right things" when he talks about wanting to stay in Columbus, how the fans deserve a winning team and so forth. I'm not so sure. He did, after all, sign the long-term contract extension under which he's currently playing.

The dude could use a little more passion/anger/rage on the ice, sure... but he doesn't seem like a bull$#!+ kind of guy. Maybe that's just me, though. Pro athletes say a lot of stuff.

Sports agents, though... well that's just nature. Joe Resnick doesn't care which team is signing Nash's checks. He gets his cut any way you slice it. I'm sure Allan Walsh could care less what happens to Antoine Vermette in Phoenix... though five bucks says there's a clause in his client contract that says "Client must call me with how he does in a game so I can tweet, 'Hey! LOOK WHAT MY CLIENT DID TONIGHT!' (because I more than likely wasn't watching)."

But we would not even be sitting here, waiting to find out if/when/where Nash is going... if Scott Howson hadn't decided that, "You know what...? Let's pick up that red phone...." 

The infamous "Daisy Ad girl" hasn't got squat on CBJ fans...

There is no longer a question if Scott Howson is about to nuke the Columbus Blue Jackets back to the expansion age.

I'm fully prepared to say it's a matter of when.

By putting the team's captain up for grabs on the trade market... Scott Howson has ensured that -- whether it's immediately, or after these last 20 games -- Rick Nash is for all intents and purposes not wearing Union Blue in 2012-13.

Brace yourselves.

To find the proper analogy to continue (and to demonstrate that I fear no crazy, parallel pop culture reference), let's look at another failed experiment... for instance, the third lineup of Van Halen. You know... the one with Gary Cherone singing.

Never heard it? Well, you probably never will. The band doesn't even list Van Halen 3 in its discography, and has taken every measure possible to recall and destroy any and all evidence of said album. I'm pretty sure I own the only remaining, un-incinerated copy.

This, of course, is a very slight exaggeration. But here's my point.

The as-yet-unremoved evidence of Jeff Carter

Album sales were dismal, tour sales were dismal. So, suffice it to say, your first course of action is to toss the guy that didn't work out (Cherone).

For the CBJ equivalent, so hello to our little friend on the right.

See where I'm going with this?

Put simply, Scott Howson is talking about kicking Eddie Van Halen out of Van Halen.

Yes, friends... I went there. However, you see my point.

Rick Nash has not been perfect (see Eddie's rehab phases, his failed marriage and his short-hair-and-goatee phase). But for Gretzsakes, when the rest of the band isn't scoring... you don't kick Rick Nash out of Van Halen!!!!

Wait... what was I writing about?

Oh. Right. Okay, back to just hockey.

Even if Nash is still a Blue Jacket at the end of the day... how long? Sure, hockey is a business. But if your boss was constantly talking about how great you were, how he's going to build a company around you and said competitors could never have you... then dangles you in front of competing companies and jerks around everyone involved for a week? And then doesn't do the deal?

Well, what would you think?

You'd probably tell him to smooch it, right?

If Rick Nash remains a Blue Jacket beyond this afternoon -- or even beyond June 30 -- and the relationship between him and this team can be repaired after all this... well, Rick Nash is a bigger man than Scott Howson.

This may be a little bit of sentiment talking -- something I know is very foolish at times like this -- but I'd love to find out if it's possible.

However, I'm just not confident anymore.

I still hope I'm wrong.

But hey... we're staying tuned together. Thanks for stopping by.

Go Jackets... just not out of town.

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