This team is not dealing from anything close to a position of strength. Howson has signed and acquired contracts that are overpriced, have terms that are too long...or both. The roster is littered with them, and the stock excuse has been, "You have to overpay to get players to come to Columbus." Is this the point where the accumulated weight of the team's overpayments come home to roost? Is this roster now so overpriced as to be untradeable...or tradeable only if Columbus is forced to accept lesser value in exchange for a perceived salary dump?
Yes, this is alarmist. But facts are facts. The Blue Jackets are not negotiating from a position of strength.
TO RENEW OR NOT TO RENEW? - As I've mentioned, I'm a partner in a Blue Jackets ticket package. My tickets - in section 223, nothing close to the expensive stuff in the lower bowl - have a face value of $55 each. And it's just about time to renew my seats for next season. I can presume that the ticket prices won't go up, but emails like today's from ticket broker aggregator SeatGeek give me pause at the notion of renewing at all:
|DISCLAIMER: I have a partner account with SeatGeek and|
receive a pittance should anyone buy tickets through links I provide.
So it comes down to two main considerations to renew: 1) The potential allure of All-Star Game tickets, for which I am not guaranteed, and 2) The appeal to civic duty and supporting the Blue Jackets ticket sales programs as a good faith gesture to help keep pro sports in Columbus. This, of course, has to be weighed against $10, $11, $12, $15 tickets this season and the spectre of a season to come that doesn't look any more promising.
Right now, I'm torn.
MOLD THE YOUNG MINDS - Tonight's San Jose game will be taken in with the Dark Blue Toddler, who might be wearing his 2-4T CBJ Rick Nash jersey for legitimate reasons other than nostalgia for the last time. Should Nash be traded at the deadline, at least I'll be able to say, "You saw him when he was a Blue Jacket."
On the larger point, the papa in me loves the idea of taking my son to Blue Jackets practices and games...even if he's really going just to see the zamboni at this point. It's good father-son time.
HOWSON 4.0: BACK TO THE FUTURE? - In my Howson 4.0 piece, I suggested that I had no idea what identity Scott Howson was going for with this latest iteration of his long-term strategic plan. From today's Dispatch piece, it sounds like he's going back to what he tried to do with Howson 2.0:
“Fast and competitive,” Howson said. “We want fast, and fast isn’t just a player’s feet. It’s puck movement, it’s vision, it’s hockey sense, it’s hands, it’s brains … it’s a lot of different things.
“When it comes to competitive players … we need more. I don’t think you can ever have too many competitive guys, but we need more.”A far cry from Howson 3.0's "smart, talented and big" reply to my identity question back in December, eh? Is "big" going away, to be replaced by speed? And if that's the case (and I make no judgement at this point on how wise such a strategy is), how many of his "big" players can he unload between now and the start of the 2012-13 training camp to achieve this vision? And considering my thoughts on the overpriced CBJ payroll, is it possible to turn the roster over sufficiently to put a "fast and competitive" team on the ice? If not, what then?
I really want this rebuild to go well, but I have to tell you: I'm scared that it's going to push the Blue Jackets deeper into the cellar.