Thursday, July 5, 2012

A STH asks: Why does Rick Nash have to be traded?

[Every now and then, I get an email that I just have to share.  This one just came in from a Blue Jackets season ticket holder, and he's got a few questions and a lot of perspective.  I'll cut to the letter (edited only to correct the spelling of one person's name), then try to offer some thoughts on the other side. - DBJ]

Do the Blue Jackets HAVE to trade their captain?
(Photo courtesy of Chris Blake)
I have been watching the "Rick Nash Saga" for months.  Eating up as much information as I can.  I am a Blue Jacket fan.  I am a season ticket holder.  I choked down my pride and my better judgement when I renewed my tickets for next year … not to be able to buy All-Star tickets, but to go to games with my sons.  And I don't understand something.  I would love for the hockey heads out there to tell enlighten me,  impart on me some wisdom.  Because from where I sit, something stinks … and it's not just the Blue Jackets track record.  So I will send this letter to the bloggers and the reporters hoping someone posts it, or responds to it with some insight.  Forward it to someone who has an answer, I know it's long, but it is a serious question.

Why does Rick Nash have to go?  I mean, I know why he WANTS to go.  I want to go as well, but I can't.  I would love to get as far away from this catastrophe of a franchise as is fanatically possible.  But I'm not moving my family and will be stuck with the Jackets despite the management and the subpar effort.  Years of losing, broken or dissolved promises, and ridiculously erratic and aimless leadership would make me want to leave as a player.  But why does he HAVE to go?

Back after the trade deadline, Craig Patrick said the best thing I have heard from management since I have been here.  He basically said that we (CBJ) don't have to trade Rick. It was met with crazy looks by the talking heads on NBC Sports.  One saying that Nash's agent would have something to say about that.  Since then, there has been no mention of not trading him?  Why?  We aren't contractually obligated to move him.  He is, however, contractually obligated to play.

Everything I know about Rick or have heard about Rick seems to say that he is a consummate professional.  So Darren Dreger tweeting earlier today that "if something doesn't give, hard to imagine this ends well" is an insinuation that Rick Nash is not professional enough to honor the HUGE contract that he signed three years ago.  Is that true?  Aaron Portzline, CBJ beatwriter, doesn't seem to think so by commenting much earlier in the process that if anyone could put this situation behind him it is Rick Nash.  So where is the idea that this doesn't end well coming from?  Is it from Joe Resnick?  Is he pumping information to the pundits and the analysts and saying to put it out that it is a foregone conclusion that Rick gets traded?  Is this the way to turn the heat up on the CBJ and force action to a select number of teams?  It is a stone that is rolling, and rolling hard.  Why hasn't Patrick or Howson come back on in the media and said once again, "We don't have to trade Rick Nash" and gained back a little of the leverage that they should have had in the situation to begin with?

How should Nash - and the Blue Jackets handle this whole situation
going forward?  (Photo courtesy of Chris Blake)
I am not a Howson apologist.  I will go on record stating that I cannot believe that he still has a job.  With perception being incredibly important in personnel moves, he is absolutely the wrong person to have steer the ship at this moment.  But he is here and holding the pencil.  I think that this will be his Roy McAvoy defining moment.  (You know in Tin Cup when he says, "When a defining moment comes along you define the moment or the moment defines you"?)  He SHOULD NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING LESS THAN EXACTLY WHAT HE WANTS.  If he does, he has been fleeced.  I personally think he should go to Rick and say, "No one thinks that you are worth what we know you are worth to us. We can't get a deal done. You will suit up for us next year."  Then he goes to the press and says the exact same thing.  And you see if he comes out and plays with a chip on his shoulder the way we know he can.  Or he holds out from camp … in which case you go on and play without him.  YOU define the moment.  And then you have an identity.  Challenge your players to change the perception and thereby change the reality.  Show some fire, some resolve, do something that no one else would.

This going along with the media and not putting anything out there makes it appear that you are not in control.  That the millions he made the past few years were not spendable and somehow he was egregiously wronged.  The piece of paper that says he will play for the CBJ is the trump card.  And I don't think that any self respecting business, or franchise, would let itself go along like this.  Now no one is calling the Blue Jackets a self respecting franchise, but this is an opportunity.  Not trading him could do a lot to finally give this franchise an identity.

I like Rick Nash … as a player and probably as a person (unless what he has put out there for years is a complete facade).  I know why he wants traded.  I just don't know why he HAS to be traded.  Please, someone tell me the reason why.

Thank you for your time,
[Season Ticket Holder]

STH, you're onto something...the fact that nothing is forcing a trade.  Other than the team's desire to rebuild reshape and Nash's stated desire to no longer play for the team with which he is under contract, that is.  Those are discretionary reasons, however, not legal or logistical mandates. 

To be fair, there's also a very real player chemistry issue.  Nash has said he wants out.  Let's be 100% clear: In saying this, he has said that he does not want to be here.  Now, we're asking him to play as an integral component of a team game? That's hard to pull off to everyone's (anyone's?) satisfaction both on the ice and in the locker room.  Yet they somehow figured out a way for the last 20-ish games of the season, so perhaps this concern is overstated.

Then we have the team's perspective.  They've tried mightily but haven't won a playoff game yet with Nash.  He's a maturing talent, supposedly at the peak of his game - implication being that holding onto him would diminish his trade value on the NHL market.  Also, you have to ask if all that money ($7.8MM cap hit) could be better spent elsewhere once you decide to rebuild reshape.  At that price, and with his stature as leader, you either build around him or move can't have him sit in the corner of the room as a 900 lb. gorilla.  Well, I guess you could, but it would be hard.

While I've got a lot on my mind regarding Nash, Howson and the whole situation, I'm not going to go much farther at this point.  I'd like to hear what other fans think.  



  1. And let's not forget the fact that he was, and still is, the Captain. While it might be possible for him to retreat, regroup and, ultimately, "reshape" his image, that fact makes it all the more challenging for him, and all the more unseemly for the team, the organization and the fans.

    That being said, like STH, I could live with a "no deal" scenario. As much as it might make me even more sick to my stomach than I already am, I'm not going anywhere. I was here before Rick Nash and Scott Howson, and (God willing) I will be here long after they are gone. Union Blue, through and through.

  2. Thanks for sharing that letter from a STH. Having read your blog and others ad nauseum, I think just about all the scenarios and reasons have been played out to the hilt.

    If Nash were to remain in a "holding pattern", can the rest of the lads still buy-in to the program? As you pointed out, perhaps the stronger than expected finish last season by the Jackets maybe an indication that Nash's announcement of wanting to be traded isn't as big a deal.

    So, then the question becomes, how do you talk Nash into staying as the current trade market isn't going to yield much for the Jackets. In my humble opinion, I think you've got to let him have a voice in the matter about the "reshaping", "rebuilding", or whatever term of the day is used. You have to give credit to ownership and management for trying to bring in a true #1 center, Jeff Carter, which didn't work out. You can't say that the Jackets nor Nash were to blame for the Carter debacle. But what did the team do afterward? Not much.

    In order to keep Nash, listen to what he wants and make it happen. Don't get me wrong as I've had major frustration with our captain wanting to leave and I got reminded of the horrific way Adam Foote, another former Jackets Captain left town. But I am willing to be open minded as it seems the best course of action for the Jackets maybe to "court" their face-of-the-franchise.

    Look now, if the Minnesota Wild can pull of a signing bonanza like they did a couple of days ago then so can the Columbus Blue Jackets. Bring in some high-quality players that can bring immediate help to the team with Nash still here.

    Doktor Z

  3. Nice email from STH. I agree that Nash does not have to be traded. At this point we really don't know what other teams are offering. Howson is getting smeared by the hockey media, however he is doing the right thing by holding out for the right pieces. The longer this goes on the better for the CBJ, as Nash will eventually have to expand his list.

    If Nash is still in Columbus by training camp the "C" will be very interesting. He certainly doesn't deserve it. I could not believe he kept it at the end of last season. The day he said he wanted out, they should have removed it. That is how you send a statement to the locker room.

    Nash has become this years' Jeff Carter. As one player said last year..."I like Jeff (Carter), but I am glad he is gone".

  4. I agree. The CBJ management should absolutely consider keeping him. No real deal will replace his skill set whether it is one player or four. I think Nash who likes living in Columbus is afraid that Howson and Priest cannot build a competitive team and he knows it will be harder to win a cup the older he gets. So, I don't blame him for wanting a career with the possibility of winning. I am also concerned that ownership doesn't add more "hockey people" to their management team. Craig Patrick is great, but all the other teams have like 5 people like Craig Patrick on their management team. If this plays out with CBJ keeping Nash, they still need goaltending (getting rid of Mason will do) and need to find someone that Mr. Nash wants to play with or has played well with before. He should no longer be captain as well (like Marleau in SJ). He is better if others keep other players in line.

  5. What I will agree on is that the CBJ management has to stay in control of any trade or non-trade. Bending to the will of a single player (no matter how skilled or esteemed) sets a terrible precedent that can't be undone. Letting a player dictate terms outside of free agency could cause more players to attempt to manipulate the franchise. If GMSH can't at LEAST get equal value or better, then Nash should not be traded. I would have no problem seeing him here next year in uniform (minus the C, however). If he has a problem with this, he is free to retire and sit out........kind of sounds like Carson Palmer vs. Mike Brown, doesn't it.? CBJ MUST retain the advantage here. I would lose all respect for this franchise if he was traded simply because he wants to go.

    1. Can anyone believe that they would be siding with "Mike Brown" on this? I do, though. I believe it gave the Bengals an identity they didn't have before the year and the other players all played better because of it. CBJ can do the same ... 7+ million might be the right price to pay to regain the respect of your franchise if he sits out.

  6. Spent 25 years living 10 miles from Rick's home but do not know him tho have talked to some who do. He is a solid individual and who can blame him for losing faith in Howson/McConnell? But he did sign a contract. Agree the "C" should have been taken at the time of his demand and it wouldn't be an issue like it will be if he comes back>just one more bad decision by Howson. He does NOT have to be traded, and I would not unless I get assests I want. You always lose the trade when you don't get the best player anyway, so we have already lost.

  7. I think there are to many people reading between the lines. I don't remember Nash saying I Want Out, trade me now. What I remember is Nash saying i'm willing to be traded if it will help the team, that is far from I want Out. To some people that means get me out of here, I want traded now, and if you don't trade me I will sit out on the next season of this stupid loosing team that I never wanted to be on in the first place. If someone can show me the video of Nash saying I Want Out Trade Me Now and not a reporter or blogger reading between the lines and reporting their feelings I would feel differently. I am in the camp of keeping him if we can't get a fare trade for him, I do not believe he would be a distraction to the team if he stays. As for the C I don't know if it matters now, I believe that others have taken over the leadership of this team, I don't think JJ, Wiz, or others that stepped forward after the announcement would allow Nash to become a distraction on the team, just like I don't think that is in Nash's makeup. I also believe JJ will light a fire under Nash to get him moving.

    1. From a transcript of his only (as best I know) public comments on the matter:

      "Q: Why did you go to Scott Howson in January and ask him to trade you?

      "A: I was informed by management that there was a rebuild, a reshape, of the team, and I personally felt I could be a huge part of that, toward bringing assets in. I think that was in my view that was the best thing for the team, the organization, and personally for my career."

      Take out the "personally for my career" part (a term used more than once in the presser, go click on the link and read for yourself), and I'd agree with your statement.

      Nash wants out for the betterment of his career. He's no martyr in this soap opera.

    2. So sad it's gotten to this point. Nothing but respect for Nasher and will always wish him the best no matter the outcome.


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