Well, there are still a few questions that remain... but at least we have some answers now.
Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash addressed the media after the morning skate Tuesday, making his first comments on the Trade Deadline that Jackets fans will not soon forget (though I'm sure they'd like to).
During the morning Q & A, Nash proceeded to give very guarded answers that many of us probably expected him to give. He was a bit vague times... perhaps even dodgy. At other times, he seemed very much the "company man" that Jackets fans have come to know and love over the years.
Whether or not he stays that company remains to be seen. It still doesn't look particularly promising… But at a few points, he did seem to leave the door open for reconciliation in the future. I'm not sold on the possibility, but we'll see.
However, let's talk about the game Tuesday night (recap here). I knew that I had to go see this game against Detroit.
Figuring there was probably no way in hell that I could get tickets to a Red Wings game because the last-minute ticket line would be long-since-occupied by whatever Walmart WingNuts were left who hadn't already bought tickets... I went to StubHub and got a ticket in the upper bowl.
Little did I know that, apparently, most of the WWs would be staying home -- perhaps even they get tired of kicking someone when they're down.
I got there, so believe me… I'm not complaining.
To be clear, I don't endorse the added drama that has compounded this trade deadline debacle between "Team Howson" and "Team Nash" (and I pray to God that CBJ fans do not turn this into some lame, Twilight-style rivalry).
However, I had to know how fans would react.
I won't kid you... it was better than I expected. I was a bit concerned about how Nash might be received, considering the somewhat polarized reactions we've seen on social media.
I was making my way to my seat as the announcement of the starters was happening... and that seemed to go well.
Well, he made it to the first one, I thought to myself.
Not that you would have been able to hear boos with the crowd noise after Nash scored his goal in the first... but I'm not sure that there were any.
There were, however, some scattered boos when Nash's name was called during the goal announcement. Didn't sound like any more than two or three (on my end of the arena, anyway)... but they're there.
From my seat, I did not hear any boos raining down every time Nash touched the puck. I did not hear any snide remarks, or anything like that.
However... it was a chant in the third that caught my attention I couldn't make it out at first. As it was getting closer -- although I was still having problems finding the source -- it began to sound more like "Wings are awesome."
Well, I figured, you'll have one of those in every section. Then of course it occurred to me that the chant was indeed getting closer... and here I was looking for some jerk in a Red Wings sweater who was sitting down.
At this point, the chant also became clearer... and just as I pinpoint that the chant is actually "FI-RE HOW-SON"... I also pinpoint the source:
A dude in his late teens or early 20s (I'm estimating here) in a knit cap holding a sign with "FIRE HOWSON" emblazoned on it. There were plenty of empty seats on my end, so his walk was mostly unimpeded. The hand rails were a bit of a challenge.
[SUB-PAR CAMERAWORK PROVIDED BY YOURS TRULY. FACE OBSCURED BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE A CHANCE TO ASK HIS PERMISSION... HE WAS MOVING, AFTER ALL..]
However... damned if he didn't keep on going. Across 210. Across 211. Across 212.
Approaching press row. Passing press row.
Making his way down the steps.
Long story short… I lost him behind the flags.
Somewhere after that, the unknown instigator apparently had his sign confiscated.
I could hear the chant a few more times after that... I know the dude couldn't have moved that fast, so it was probably someone else...
...but it's out there.
The attitudes among Blue Jackets fans may be pretty polarized, if you're looking at the Twitter feed... but for the paying and/or comped customers sitting in Nationwide Arena... it would seem they are taking Nash's side.
OR... there's a good chance that a lot of fans are probably pretty pissed off at both parties.
And justifiably so.
Hell, I'm a little mad that Nash would ask for a trade. Tuesday's non-committal, dodgy, spin-filled-load-of-crap-news conference doesn't help, either.
And, of course I'm mad at Howson for potentially lowering Nash's trade value by revealing that Nash asked for that trade. Both sides are at fault in this debacle. Howson unwisely fired the warning shot across the bow on Monday... and Nash, well... I think we learned the reason why he apparently doesn't (and probably shouldn't) do news conferences that often.
I'm not incredibly impressed with Howson as a general manager at this point.
I'm also not that impressed with Rick Nash as a person at this point.
I understand, recognize and gladly accept that, to some people who read this... this sounds wishy-washy as hell.
But as crazy, die-hard fan Kevin Schroeder (whom you likely recognize as "Dancing Kevin" from Colorado Springs) reminded the Twitterverse on Monday: The crest on the front of the sweater is more important than the name on the back of it.
I am a Columbus Blue Jackets fan.
This whole thing could explode into a grandiose, sensationalized, "either Nash goes or Howson goes" pissing contest. However, I will leave that crap to the "pros."
I am a Columbus Blue Jackets fan.
This is our team. This is our flag.
As long as Rick Nash plays hard and leaves it all out there on the ice while he's wearing our team's sweater... he is free to spew whatever silly, wishy-washy, agent-coached drivel he wants to, while he's off the ice.
Just play hockey like you're getting paid to do...
...and we pay to watch.
Say it with me... Let's go Jackets!
All of them.
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MORE NASHWATCH COVERAGE
2/28/2012: Bad Season... Turned Nightmare...
2/27/2012: Trade Deadline Day: The Beginning Of The End (?)
2/16/2012: Bubble Hockey (Players): Rick Nash