Trading Rick Nash makes the Columbus Blue Jackets a better team.
I’m glad we traded Rick Nash.
I’m glad we traded him and if you’re a Jackets fan, you should be, too because Nash’s trade confirms that he was an ill fit for the Blue Jackets identity. At their best, the Jackets have been a team that plays hard for each other and beats the other team with effort first, then talent.
Lest you, dear reader, question my credentials: Columbus native, still own a Columbus Mad Cows T-shirt (too threadbare to wear anymore), own a Rick Nash sweater, and have seen them in person at least once each season. I’ve worn the sweater to road games in California, Minnesota, and St. Louis and gotten the strange looks. When we were Las Vegas Wranglers season ticket holders, I was the “Jackets guy.” I’m also not a Howson apologist. He can be a roster ninja, but mishandles talent (Mason, Hitchcock, and Boomer, to name a few), and seems to have a tin ear for fan relations.
Rick Nash was the face of the franchise but he never fully meshed with the 40+ centers he skated with in Columbus. GMs Doug MacLean and Scott Howson both missed chances to pair him with elite centers (Joe Thorton and Brad Richards, respectively). Being the face, the captain, and the playmaker were too many hats for Nash to wear. Sprinkle in a little dysfunction -- fun fact: Nash had played for all eight head coaches and every captain except Lyle Odelein. Sending away Nash wipes away much of the institutional memory of darker moments in CBJ history.
Howson has heeded the advice of the late Herb Brooks (and, perhaps, senior advisor Craig Patrick?), looking for the right players for the Jackets, not the best ones. Prospal, Umberger, Wisniewski, Johnson, Dorsett, and Tyutin (and now Dubinsky, Aucoin, and Ansimov) form a leadership core focused on hard work, grit and effort.
Oh yeah, they want to play here, too.Wisniewski has unfinished business from a suspension and injury-filled ‘11-’12 campaign. Johnson loves to be in Columbus and wants to be part of the solution. Dorsett is willing to fight anyone. Umberger sees depth and things to prove personally and as a team:
It’s a group that will have to work really hard and earn everything we get. All the players are guys who feel like they really need to prove something.
Working hard and proving something, the proverbial chip on the shoulder: that is the identity of the Blue Jackets. It was an identity forged during the closing months of the first season with a team of misfit cast-offs.
We fans and the players already know who wants this team to flounder. We know we want to win. We have a core of players who want to win here in Columbus, now.
We don’t have the best players, but I believe we have the right ones. Maybe we should just have this kid give pregame speeches for Todd Richards?