Sunday, April 29, 2012

DBJ's 2011-12 Season In Review, Games 61-70

GAMES 61-70   (4-6-0, 22-41-7)

61 62  63 
64 65 66
67 68 69

4 wins, 6 losses...and there's a genuine positive to discuss?  You betcha.

Note that the four victories were achieved in a row...the first legitimate win streak of any kind for this team in this season (and probably a lot longer, but I'm not going to go back and look it up).  And note who the CBJ beat: A Colorado team that was still in the playoff hunt followed by three wins that, as I type are playing in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  I find myself saying, "To be a good team, you have to beat good teams" (or something of the sort) on this blog a lot...and the Columbus Blue Jackets won some solid games during that run.

But back to the beginning of the stretch...and that means the trade deadline.

The trade deadline activity moved into high gear for the CBJ just before game 60 when Antoine Vermette was moved to Phoenix for a 2012 second round pick, a 2013 a fourth or fith-round pick and an injured goalie who never saw the ice while under contract with the CBJ.

An EXTREME makeover?  Not exactly, but perhaps
the beginnings of a foundation for one.
Next up, The awkward Jeff Carter Saga ended when he was traded to Los Angeles (and reunited with former Flyer Mike Richards) for Jack Johnson and what now appears to be Columbus' choice of LA's first round pick in either 2012 or 2013.  Johnson literally arrived at Nationwide Arena in the middle of game 61, and he took Columbus by storm.

(Oh yeah, Darryl Boyce was claimed off waivers from the Leafs.)

Of course, this all took place before the trade deadline.  The only move on trade deadline day was Sammy Pahlsson to Vancouver for a couple of fourth rounders.

And, as we all know, Rick Nash went nowhere in a no-win scenario for the Blue Jackets.  But, as we all know, it didn't end there.

Scott Howson used the post-deadline press conference to drop the bomb that Nash was the one to ask for a trade.  What was to be gained?  To tell the world that Columbus would be negotiating from a position of weakness on Nash for the duration?  To burn the bridge with Nash beyond repair?  To salvage personal credibility on Howson's part?  I don't get it.

Then - get this - the team allowed Nash to use its media room to say that he didn't want to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets any more, that it would be better for his career to play elsewhere.  But he wanted to keep playing for the Blue Jackets for the rest of the season.  And he expected to remain captain.  Despite turning his back on the team that he supposedly was leading.

It was the Theater of the Absurd and continued for the last 20+ games of the season.  For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Blue Jackets kept playing Nash.  The season was lost.  There was nothing to be gained.  Yet the team - and Nash - wouldn't move on.

It took all of one post-deadline game for Alison to broach the issue of how to redistribute the player leadership letters around the locker room.  This, written after game 64.  There still was nearly a quarter of the season left, and we fans already were diving deep into the postseason parlor games.  (Not to belittle her post.  It's quite good.)

Still, there were games to be played.  Since there was nothing to play for, it was time for the Blue Jackets to turn it on...right?  Gallos tried to reconcile that with an interim head coach in Todd Richards that was trying to prove himself to management.  Tricky situation.

The CBJ fan protest group from All-Star weekend got themselves more formally organized as Jackets F.A.N.S., and CapnCornelius offered a guest post at my invitation to explain their motivations, goals and efforts.

I tried to play devil's advocate for those fans who felt it necessary to boo Jeff Carter in game 67.  This probably was as successful as trying to blame a 1-8-1 start to the season on flu shots.  (Gallos offers another perspective on the booing issue that's worth a look.)

Then there's the issue of playing out the string, and the legend of the Blue Jackets' ability to play out of their minds when there is nothing to play for.  I investigated, found the legend lacking, and suggested other motivations and goals for the last 13 games.

The Columbus Blue Jackets were mathematically eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs after game 69.

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