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Columnist: Nash painted as the villain in Columbus

Feb 28, 2012, 1:40 PM EDT

Rick Nash Getty Getty Images

Reactions continue to pour in from yesterday’s press conference in Columbus, when Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson told reporters it was captain Rick Nash that asked for a trade — not the other way around.

The presser has been described by many as the final argument of what will ultimately end in divorce, something expressed by the National Post’s Michael Traikos:

Why would Howson reveal this nugget of information? Why make Nash look bad? Was Howson trying to save face in front of the fans after coming away empty on Monday? Was this a hardball tactic to pressure Nash to increase the number of teams he is willing to be traded to?

This was not doing the “right thing” or being “truthful.” This was mean and hurtful.

The only logical explanation for Howson’s strategy — if you can call it that — is he tried to curry favor in the court of public opinion, which is kind of ridiculous. The best way for Howson to curry favor would be to build a good team, which will be more difficult now that his negotiating power’s weakened. How can Howson deal from a position of strength when it’s clear Nash is calling the shots?

More, from Traikos:

Howson has to make sure he does not let his golden goose walk for nothing. He has the Jackets’ future to think of. He has his own job to think of. But his outing of Nash’s wishes to get out of Columbus rather than stay for another rebuilding process will likely not end well. Those players who are set to become free agents in the summer will remember how Howson handled the situation.

The delicious, delicious irony here is that during yesterday’s presser, Howson talked about the need to “create a winning culture to attract free agents.” And he said this in the middle of a press conference calling out the team captain.

If that doesn’t say “organization I want to be a part of,” I’m not sure what does.

  1. bcisleman - Feb 28, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    I agree that Howson was unwise to out Nash, but Resnick had really already done that with his comments.

    At the end of the day, Nash doesn’t want to come off as another Heatley or Lindros, so he’ll likely work with CLB to get the best possible deal for them.

  2. hawknuts - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    this franchise is run like a joke, the fans are the ones who suffer

  3. east96st - Feb 28, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    “Those players who are set to become free agents in the summer will remember how Howson handled the situation.”

    Let’s be honest, even before yesterday, no player is his right mind would come to Columbus if he had ANY other opportunities to play elsewhere. Yesterday’s “Howson’s Hypocrisy” fiasco was merely the final nail in the coffin. There is nothing here to offset the agony of playing for the worst run team in professional sports. Honestly, as a current season ticket holder, I would advise players to consider Russia and Europe before signing with Columbus. You can’t win with these idiots in charge. The franchise is dead until another owner can be found.

    • govtminion - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      Hard to argue with that. It’s hard to look at the past decade and see a whole lot of reasons to want to play in Columbus for a free agent. You know you’re going to play for a poor team, one that hasn’t a clue how to draft or develop young talent… why sign there when you could go to a contender, or at least a halfway decent team?

      The Oilers had the same problem after Pronger left, remember- and they’ve had to develop talent in-house as a result, because free agents aren’t coming out to play there. It’s worked okay for them so far, but the fact that they’ve had so many early-first-round picks says a lot too.

      Thing is, Columbus is even worse off- they too can’t land free agents due to the bad reputation the team has, but they can’t draft either- there’s no Nugent-Hopkins or Hall to save the day here. Combine that with the massive loss of money every year (remember that one last summer?), and it’s clear this team is in big trouble.

  4. ikillchicken - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    I actually wonder if this is a good move. Right now Nash is kinda playing hard ball by requesting a trade but offering a very short list of possible trade candidates. The more toxic the situation becomes though the more eager Nash will be to get out of there. If this keeps up he will quickly get fed up and expand his list in the interest of getting the heck out of Columbus already. Plus, no matter how toxic things become it’s never really gonna hurt Columbus to still have Nash because they’re gonna suck regardless. Of course, all this could backfire if Nash gets really pissed off and decided to be even more difficult. Then you’ve either got to trade him for even less or try to wait him out which isn’t going to be good for anybody.

  5. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Howson has no leverage and he knows there’s no way he can keep Nash now. He will likely be dealt to one of the five teams on his list for as much or less than the Rangers offered CBJ at the deadline.

    • drewsylvania - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Exactly.

  6. buckeye044 - Feb 28, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    He might be painted as a villain, but Nash is no villain. Problem with this team is and always has been the inability to draft. Look around the league at all the young, early 20 year olds playing, then look at Columbus, a team that has drafted at the top forever.

    From the president down to the scouts, this is a poorly run organization and the players in the league know it. No free agent ever comes here unless they are vastly overpaid.

    You can trade all the players you want, but you cant build a successful franchise with other teams draft picks.

  7. claysbar - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    For all the talk that pro sports players get about being selfish, you have to give Nash some credit. He resigned with the “promise” the team would get better and gave them time to prove it. Given their track record, they can’t do much worse with other teams draft picks considering what they have done with their own. Whoever the owner of this team is needs to fire everyone and start over. Patrick would be a good guy to keep on as a interim GM/President, but he also gets a ton of credit for two years trade deadlines when his overall record isn’t all that impressive. Overall, this should be an organization deemed for retraction.

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