I recently wrote an article of the top 10 players most likely to be traded at the NHL’s trade deadline (February 27th at 3 P.M. EST). I took a bit of ribbing that, at most, three or four of those players on the list would be traded.
Then came the news that the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise player, Rick Nash, was placed on the trading market.
So, to those who had some doubt that the once unthinkable – Rick Nash possibly being traded by the deadline – could never happen, much less the possible domino effect that may occur, thereafter? – I say:
What do you have to say, now?
This stunning development, a player who was once told was ‘off-limits’ to other inquiring General Managers (GM’s) in the National Hockey League (NHL), suddenly being asked which teams he would waive his No Trade Clause (NTC) for has made an otherwise underwhelming trade deadline into much more exciting than having to watch NHL pundits toss their Blackberries at one other.
And after the manic rumors that ensued as to possible trade offers and deals for Rick Nash broke and after it was revealed which teams Nash had possibly waived his NTC for, then came a phenomenon that can only be described as potential buyer’s remorse.
One by one, writers who either covered those respective teams – it’s believed to be the following NHL teams: Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens (and possibly Vancouver Canucks) – or are observers/pundits began stating why acquiring the All-Star power forward may be a bad idea.
Be it concerns that Nash might affect the overall team chemistry of one of the team’s leading their respective conference standings – i.e. New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks – concerns that Nash could affect the respective team’s salary cap structure and overall team culture by bringing in a player who won’t accept a ‘hometown discount’ so many of the other players had already accepted – i.e. Vancouver Canucks – or concerns that acquiring Nash might not be a guarantee of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup due to concerns of Nash not being much of a locker room leader and possibly over-hyped – i.e. an All-Star and not necessarily an elite, world-class player or generational player – skepticism began to emerge as to the possible downsides that obtaining Nash might result in.
Then there are the potential ramifications that offering Nash’s name as potential trade bait could cast upon the Blue Jackets organization and especially to the player (Nash).
By throwing out Nash’s name as being on the market to these other NHL teams, you have essentially gotten to a point of no return and not looking back. Although Rick Nash has been a consummate professional both in his years as a Blue Jacket and over the now rampant speculation as to his future, what impact will it have on his psyche and overall motivation whether he is traded or not, much less to the rest of his teammates?
For the organization, if indeed you are able to trade Rick Nash by the trade deadline, you send a signal to the rest of the NHL that the “fire sale” is on, that possibly a slew of Blue Jackets will have new homes by February 28th – RJ Umberger, Antoine Vermette, Sammi Pahlsson, Steve Mason, Curtis Sanford, Jeff Carter, Derick Brassard and others. Imagine the tension that will have now been created for these players, wondering who’s next’?
However, if you do not trade Rick Nash and instead wait until the off-season, when many other teams have salary cap flexibility, yet trade several of the above-mentioned players, you leave Rick Nash in a potential “lame duck” situation, being forced to play out the string with players who he cannot establish chemistry with much less not knowing whether he will have to remain in a long-term rebuild which could take as long as five years which would have Nash wait until he’s 32 years old to realize any possibly Stanley Cup playoff-contending possibilities.
Finally, if Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson chooses to make only minor changes – trading all of the expiring contracts of Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) and a few possible salary cap albatross’ – the Blue Jackets would still probably end up with either the worst record in the NHL or one of the worst – you may have caused ill will to Nash and especially to the fans that the ‘status quo’ is to be tolerated, something that will cause a massive drop in season ticket sales and overall attendance, resulting in even more mounting losses to the team with the NHL’s ninth highest payroll.
Overriding all of these scenarios is the belief amongst pundits and fans that Scott Howson, the GM who has been at the helm of the Blue Jackets for the past five seasons and for the team who has finished, in succession, 14th, 13th and now 15th (last) in the Western Conference and last in the entire NHL (30th), should not be the person entrusted with trading their franchise player, much less be responsible for the possible rebuild that may ensue. In short, the person who’s gotten the organization in the current malaise shouldn’t be the person who will get them out of their current dilemma. In fact, many observers question how Howson has maintained his current job yet he’s making possibly the biggest or the most damaging set of decisions for the Blue Jackets organization.
In short, this has now become a ‘no win’ situation for Nash and for the Blue Jackets’ organization, but both the short-term and long-term ramifications could affect the Blue Jackets viability in Columbus, a market that has never been given an ounce of what they’ve given to the organization in support and loyalty. Let the drama begin.