Let's get it straight: I don't hate Rick Nash.
At the same time, no matter how I look at the Nash situation, I keep coming back to this - his very own words:
And then there are his comments from this week in Edmonton that suggest that he - and the locker room that he still leads - aren't necessarily marching to the same drummer as management (emphasis added):
"We’re going to try and get as many points as we can by the end of the season,” Nash added. “Finishing last is something we (players) don’t want to do. Perhaps management and other levels of the organization have different obligations, but for us, there’s no chance that we want to finish in the basement."After considering what Nash himself has said, I believe that, for all of his many contributions to the Columbus Blue Jackets and the greater Columbus community, he has turned into a mutinous captain.
What a powerful word that is: Mutinous. Yet this isn't an expression of enmity - it's just an interpretation of that which he pushed in front of my eyes.
|One doesn't have to lead an armed rebellion like Fletcher Christian|
to be mutinous. And seeing that Rick Nash hasn't been a rabble-
rousing leader since becoming CBJ captain, why would he start now?
The evidence from the press conference that I use to suggest that Nash is mutinous is his public comments in his post-trade deadline press conference, where he says, "I think the biggest thing is when management said they were going to make a rebuild and a reshape, I thought the best thing for the team and for the organization would be to get assets for me, and I thought it would be best for my career."
The Edmonton comments are self-explanatory, indicative of a captain who is trying to lead his team in a different direction than management wants. I'm not saying that I blame the guy for wanting to win, but he implied that he's not walking in concert with the team. So how does one reconcile that with his altruistic "I just want to help the team get assets to help them rebuild" statement? I suggest you can't...which places what he said at his presser under greater scrutiny and skepticism.
|Nash wants to advance his career elsewhere.|
The CBJ want to maximize the value that they
can receive before letting him do that.
Using the definitions cited above, how is that not mutinous?
I'd also suggest that Craig Patrick's recent comments to ESPN's Craig Custance suggest that tension between Nash and the team is reciprocal. To summarize, Patrick said that the team isn't interested in rewarding this insurrection with a quick, painless bus ticket out of town. This statement was backed up by nothing happening at the trade deadline. Now, Patrick says that the CBJ are going to hold firm on their asking price and won't bend - implicitly threatening Nash with the possibility of a really uncomfortable season ahead if nothing happens. (Might this be a way to get Nash to widen his No Trade Clause-empowered circle of acceptable trading partners? Perhaps.) This is hardball negotiating going on, right under our noses, between two parties that appear to not be playing well in the sandbox together.
So, how do we reconcile this very public position of Nash's with the need for the Blue Jackets to derive benefit from playing out of the string?
My answer has been to remove him from the franchise. (And I strongly suggest you read that link as I'm not going to rehash all of it.) Doing so prevents injury to the Blue Jackets' most valuable piece of trade bait while facilitating the other benefits of wisely playing out the string - development of leadership, auditioning of talent, determining new roles for existing talent, etc. And as I was repeatedly reminded during the lead-up to the trade deadline, teams don't need to scout Rick Nash; they know what they're getting. If that's the case, then there's no trade benefit in showcasing him any longer.
As I said when I first proposed this, this quick transition should be done with all due honors given to Nash. Give him the send-off ceremony for the ages. Raise his number to the rafters if you want. He's worked very hard in some very dark days for this franchise. He helped steer the team to its only playoff appearance. Rick Nash deserves a proper thank you. However, he now doesn't want to be here, and that can only get more and more awkward as time goes on.
So that's my view: Play out the string in a way that best prepares the team for 2012-13. Protect the trade bait from injury. And MOVE ON.
Thus, I'll use the 5 Thoughts game recaps - when I write them...the team hasn't exactly inspired me to write a lot recently - as a tool to remind the Blue Jackets and their fans that the team is both squandering an incredible opportunity and playing with fire by continuing to play Nash. And yes, I plan to do so for the duration. I only hope that it doesn't stretch into next season (presuming that there is a next season).
If Nash wants to recant and publicly recommit to the Blue Jackets going forward, I'm more than willing to put my little awareness campaign aside and welcome him back unconditionally. I'd love for Rick Nash to want to be part of the Columbus Blue Jackets again. He's still a pretty darned good hockey player. But his public comments don't fill me with hope.
Circumstances have forced my hand on this post. My disagreement with playing Nash is not rooted in hate or anger - it's about supporting the team that he wants to leave behind as they have to make wise competitive decisions to solidify their now-precarious position with their fanbase.
Barring a miracle, our mutinous captain soon will leave Columbus to play elsewhere. We fans will be left behind. (Well, this fan will...I'm not planning to move out of town any time soon.)
The sun will keep rising every day in Central Ohio, and the Columbus Blue Jackets will put a "new look" hockey team on the ice for 82 regular season games (again, presuming that there is a next season). I want to see that team, the one for whom I renewed my ticket package yesterday knowing full well that Rick Nash likely will not be around, be successful as quickly as possible. I want competitive, winning, playoff-competitive hockey in Columbus, Ohio.