Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Glass Bangers, 2/21/12

THE MOST UNFORTUNATE OF ROAD SHOWS - I've been cringing for the last few days at the reports that Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson (sometimes with senior advisor Craig Patrick) have been travelling to the likes of New York and Philadelphia to meet with Flyers and Rangers brass, presumably to discuss trade deadline deals involving Blue Jackets roster players.  The web scuttlebutt suggests that two of the Blue Jackets' highest-paid players, Rick Nash and Jeff Carter, could be under consideration to be moved before the deadline.

I'm no Howson fan, but I really don't like the optics of this.  To see our general manager literally knocking on other teams' doors to explore ways where the Blue Jackets can be relieved of highly-compensated players...it just reeks of desperation.  As in, "Take my players.  Please!"  Now Howson is no idiot, and he (hopefully!) won't let himself get fleeced with what might be his last two meaningful pieces of trade bait.  Howson's supposed trouble in moving his stars do suggest a larger problem.

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.
Those are some cheap seats.

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.


  1. Is Scott Howson essentially saying that he needs more Kris Russells and less Nikita Nikitins?

    The thing he does that kills me is when he flip-flops on what this team needs. First it was big, Hitchcock players, then fast puck-moving players, then big, smart players with leadership capabilities, now fast, smart players. I think we should just get "good" players and go from there, but I'm only a GM when I'm playing video games.

  2. Disagree with you on some points, but mostly want to say that I have tickets in the same section. But your face values are double what I am paying. During a time of financial belt tightening I reduced from two full season packages in the front part of the section to two half season packages a few rows back. I know you are in a group, but you might want to look at moving back, cuts costs way down and keeps the ticket holder benefits.

  3. Another reason for keeping your season package is that you will know where you're sitting each game, who's sitting around you, and you will be able to maintain your relationship with the Arena personnel that has grown over time. I sit below you in 118, have an excellent view of all the action, and enjoy talking about the game with those around me and our excellent usher, Bill. Last night, I sat in 103, five rows behind the Jackets bench. It was fun, for awhile, to be that close and have a different view of the game; but, in a short while we realized that parts of the ice were obscured, the seating was more crowded, and the ushers allowed seating while the puck was in play. We missed Bill and our own seats!


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