Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dawn In Columbus...

Good morning.

As you roll/crawl/fall out of bed this morning, eat/drink/shoot your breakfast and walk/skip/stumble outside, you may notice something.

There's this bright, reddish-orange ball in the sky to the east. That is the sun, kids.

Yes. That's right. It rose today.

The Rick Nash Era officially ended in Columbus Monday -- apparently three years to the day after Rick Nash signed an extension that was supposed to maybe cement him as a Blue Jacket for life, according to the Columbus Dispatch's keeper of tighten-the-rope-and-kick-the-chair statistics, Aaron Portzline.

More importantly, the godawful, constant and woeful wait that was NashWatch also -- mercifully -- came to an end. It's not the end a lot of people wanted... I'm sure there are many who still desperately wanted to hold onto Nash long enough to see if GM Scott Howson would screw up somehow and get fired so that we could keep him in Columbus and see if someone else could step into the front office and build a team.

And you may disagree with me now, and that's okay... but this is how it had to be.

Sure, Rick Nash said he'd play hard wherever he was. And that's all well and good. I might have even believed it if he hadn't phoned in much of March before realizing that maybe scoring some goals (and hitting 30 for the fifth consecutive season) might get him out of Columbus more quickly.

I think we all realize he'd be playing just to audition for high trade value. That's not commitment to a team. To hell with wearing the "C." If you're not committed to playing for the team, you don't deserve to wear the sweater.

Nash is off on the horizon somewhere (can't technically say sunset, as New York is east), and the sun rises on three new Blue Jackets players. And a third first-round draft pick.

On paper... the trade isn't thrilling. And I don't think anyone expected it to be. Nasher wanted out of Columbus, and that meant that for the most part, Scott Howson was not going to "win" any trade involving the former captain.

The Jackets get three living, breathing players in the deal -- two of whom have relevant NHL experience and will contribute. Both Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov trended downward in 2011-12 from the year before -- Dubinsky significantly so, with 20 fewer points and fewer than half the goals from '10-'11. Dubinsky is 26, finished with 10 goals and 24 assists and has a $4.2 million cap hit for the next three years. Anisimov is 24, finished with 16-20-36 and will make $1,875,000 this year (thanks, CapGeek). It is worth noting, however, that Anisimov chipped in 3 goals and 10 points in 20 Playoff games this spring.

The Jackets also get Tim Erixon, who contributed a couple of assists in 18 games during a few call-up stints with the big club. The assists came in his last two games.

Are they glamorous on paper? Absolutely not. But this will not be a glamorous team. The new guys are young, and with Nash and Huselius gone (is he still technically here? LOL), those top two lines are waiting to be shaped, and Dubinsky and Anisimov could be in the mix for some interesting battles for top-six spots.

Is this trade exciting for Columbus? No. This is the best Scott Howson could get, and he dragged the organization and its fan base through a lot of unnecessary crap and speculation to get to yesterday's events. And he got just about what the fan base could reasonably expect. But that's the funny thing about new beginnings. Maybe these unglamorous, early- to mid-twentysomethings are just what this team needs. Youth. Competitive fire. A little Playoff experience. Work ethic.

Things Rick Nash had mostly been lacking this past season.

Time will judge Scott Howson in about nine or ten months. Time to see if he gets it done.

But now we can move forward with the confidence that the question-dodging and overall lack of leadership and accountability that tarnished the end of Rick Nash's tenure here is likely over.

I do not rejoice in the loss of Rick Nash. He made his choice, though. He's gone.

The sun rose today. It's a new game. It's a new era. It's a new team.

It's our team.

Welcome aboard, boys.
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MORE NASHWATCH COVERAGE
7/6/2012: Time To End This No-Win Situation
6/30/2012: Box Full of Letters, Part II: Rick Nash
6/30/2012: Free Agency Almost Open... Still No Nash Deal
6/16/2012: NashWatch, The Sequel: Happy Birthday... Your Gift's Running Late
3/21/2012: NashWatch: The Incredible Disappearing Captain

3/1/2012: Well... Now That Nash Has Spoken...
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

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