Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reasons why the CBJ should keep putting Rick Nash on the ice

I've been pleasantly surprised at the feedback from the Game 63 recap, where I discussed the madness of putting Rick Nash, the Columbus Blue Jackets' mutinous captain, on the ice once both he and the Blue Jackets management decided that every effort would be made to move him to another team.  The blog comments reflect thoughtful, reasoned counter-responses to my post, and Internet chatter has been surprisingly positive once the shock of "scratching the star player" wears off.  There's been a nice, healthy undercurrent of, "I never thought about it that way, but it makes sense."  Regardless of which side you come down on in this polarizing discussion, I'm pleased to have been a part of it.

Thanks, Rick.  It's been terrific.
But you don't want to be here any more, and Columbus needs to move on.
In deference to those who don't agree with my assertion (and in preparation for tonight's Fire The Cannon podcast appearance where I'll be discussing this whole notion), I thought it would be a good exercise to summarize the points of those who disagree with my assertions in one place.  That way, you readers can consider both sides and draw your own conclusions.  Of course, I reserve the right to offer my reply to those arguments.

  • Nash is one of few players who can be relied upon to score.
  • Nash helps the team win games right now.
  • There's no need to start the rebuild now, seeing as a good portion of the roster won't be around next season, so you might as well play Nash.
DBJ's response: While Nash did score in Detroit in Game 63, the team didn't win.  And they haven't won in many games this season where he participated in the scoring column.  Besides, this season has long been declared over from a competitiveness point of view.  Winning games right now only serves to jeopardize the team's draft position.

As for holding off the rebuild until the new pieces are in place, well...we were supposed to wait for this team to gel before getting upset with the direction of this season.  How did that work out?  I'd much rather use the last 19 games to separate wheat from chaff and determine what current players will make up the new CBJ core.

  • The players support Nash and want him to remain as captain.
DBJ's response: I have a feeling that the players would like Nash to stick around town, too.  But has the constant reinforcement of Columbus' "country club" image not taught us anything?  These players might think they know what's best for them and their club, but they don't.  (I'm not saying current team management does, either, but that's another story.)  If they did, they'd be winning games and competing for playoff seeding right now.  And how will new leadership emerge with Nash's shadow looming over the locker room?  Do we have to defer that portion of team evolution to keep a bunch of guys (of which we've agreed many will not return) happy?

This is what you thought you were going to get at the
start of the season.
  • Ticket-buying fans want to see Nash play.
  • "Team Nash": Fans want to support Nash in his apparent rift with team management.
DBJ's response: Of all the "keep Nash on the ice" arguments, perhaps the "fans want to see Nash play" is the most persuasive.  People did buy tickets and ticket packages thinking they were going to see Nash.  (They also thought that they were going to get a full season of a productive Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, but that's again another story.)  Lord knows the hockey is going to be rough in the short- to mid-term once he's gone, so why not delay the inevitable?  At the same time, don't you think that Blue Jackets fans would enjoy consistently winning hockey more?  (And the Team Nash stuff is cute, but that overlooks the fact that both Nash and CBJ management are at fault in getting the team to its current state.)

  • Nash will surely recover from all but the most severe of injuries in plenty of time.  Won't affect his trade value.
  • The likelihood of a debilitating injury like a severe concussion is minimal. 
DBJ's response: Dang, you guys like playing with fire.

  • Scott Howson never intended to trade Nash but instead used Nash as lure to move Jeff Carter out the door with all due haste.  Carter's now gone, so full speed ahead.
  • Nash might even be in on the scheme.
DBJ's response: If this truly is the case, I would be stunned.  As in, this:

But hey, anything's possible with this team.

As I said, draw your own conclusions. I just can't see how playing Nash at this point in the season, under the team's current circumstances, makes any sense.


  1. Who would order Nash off the ice? Todd Richards is coaching for his job and, by his own admission, doesn't give a damn about next year. That's why RyJo isn't playing. Nobody with any sense thinks this bunch would play better without Nash, so an auditioning coach is going to keep putting him out there.

    Management is paying him big bucks to play and, if they didn't respect his ability, they would have accepted one of the trade offers, this week. They also have a big enough PR problem without telling the fans that they no longer want to win games, so they're not going to ice their best player.

    1. Pete, I agree that Richards is in the here and now. Thus, it would be up to management to pull the plug on Nash.

      I don't see such a move as any disrespect for Nash's abilities. It's more a statement about what his value to the team is - trade bait - and about the team's desire to move on and get the rebuild started so they can start winning games again.

      A clear, concise statement on the matter should be enough. Something to the tune of, "We at the Columbus Blue Jackets want to compete for and win a Stanley Cup as soon as possible. Thus, we're going to protect our most valuable trade asset by sitting him down and begin developing our roster for 2012-13 so we will have a jump-start on training camp and the season...minimizing any time needed as part of a rebuild. It's the most responsible thing we can do to make the team a winner as soon as possible."

      But that's me.

    2. in re: Avoiding injury by sending Nash home to Canada.
      What if he slices his knee open in a freak firewood cutting accident, or hooks his eye with a lure while fly-fishing, or cuts off a finger or two while preparing dinner.

      Living life is "playing with fire"

      Nash is about the only reason left to attend games for the rest of the season. I already feel cheated by the CBJ; don't make it worse.

      This team needs a totally new direction and it has to start at the top. Priest doesn't think that running a NHL team is any different than running a convenience store or a steel mill. We are the laughing stock of the league and that won't change until we get new leadership who have some measure of understanding & experience.

      I won't be holding my breath, or spending my money on season tickets until that happens.

  2. I couldn't agree more with keeping Nash off the ice, primarily for the fear of injury. If the plan in to move him for 4-5 assets, why risk a serious injury to Nash that could derail the plan?

    I also agree that the last handful of games need to be used to determine who stays and who goes, who steps up into leadership roles. Tough to do in the shadow of Nash.

    What was is that Bo Schembechler said when Bill Frieder announced days before the start of the NCAA tournament that he was leaving for Arizona State at the end of the season? "A Michigan Man will lead Michigan". With that, Frieder was shown the door, not allowed to continue coaching the team. A CBJ Man needs to lead the CBJ starting now. Nash made his position clear on where he stands. I get it, I wish him well, but we don't owe him a love-fest these last 18 or so games.

    1. Anon - While I agree with your sentiments, I have to say that quoting Bo Schembechler on a Columbus blog doesn't help your argument with this crowd.

      (But you're right.)

    2. Trust me, as a 2nd generation Buckeye graduate, it was tough to type!


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