Behind the 8 Ball

The non-hockey market of Columbus, Ohio will have to continue waiting for a contender. No biggie, right? It has only been 12 years.

I doubt that very many people really care but the Columbus Blue Jackets are once again left to rebuild. An expansion franchise that has never really found its way in the National Hockey League, the Blue Jackets will likely be clawing its way up from the bottom of the barrel for another couple of years at least.

Unfortunately, this rebuild happened 1 year too late.

The trade for Jeff Carter in the off-season predictably did not have the desired results for GM Scott Howson. They gave up a 1st and 3rd round pick along with Jakub Voracek for a guy who ended up playing 39 unmotivated games. I have cottage cheese in my fridge that has lasted longer than that. Luckily for the Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi threw Scott Howson a bone. Howson got a 1st round pick back as well as underachieving defenseman Jack Johnson.

Nevertheless, Scott Howson messed up worse than Vince Young on the wonderlic test.

He wasted a year for the Blue Jackets that they can never get back. A year that he could have spent in full rebuild mode. Instead, Howson has had to scramble before the trade deadline to get something of value for his expendable pieces.

He traded Jakub Voracek, Samuel Pahlsson and, of course, Jeff Carter for a bunch of drafts picks. A 1st (2013 conditional), 2nd (2012), 4th (2012), 4th (2012), and a 5th (2013 conditional) to be exact.

The silver lining to this less than perfect scenario is that the Blue Jackets sit dead last in the NHL by a gigantic margin despite their best attempts to contend for a Stanley Cup this year. As sad as that is in itself, the fact that they are guaranteed a top 3 pick in the 2012 draft can be of some comfort to Scott Howson on those very lonely nights.

However, with that being said, the Blue Jackets have yet to trade their most coveted piece in all-star winger Rick Nash. His $7.8 million cap hit through the 2014-15 season, no-movement clause and all. According to Howson today, Rick Nash approached the team about a possible trade but nothing got done. Rick Nash is still stuck in the purgatory that is Columbus for the time being.

Rick Nash will be dealt eventually, probably around the time of 2012 draft. It will mark the end of a very miserable era in Columbus.

After Nash is gone, the best thing Scott Howson can do for his franchise is be patient. He thought last offseason, like the kid who spoils his appetite with the cookie before dinner, that being patient wouldn’t be worth it. He knew that getting Jeff Carter back then sounded good and didn’t think it would affect his whole team negatively. Like the kid eating his cookie before dinner, Scott Howson upset the natural order of things. He had his dessert before dinner was ready. When it is dinnertime, Howson is the one at the table who won’t be able to enjoy it.

That cookie doesn’t taste so good now does it Scotty?

They say that patience is a virtue. Not enough General Manger’s have it apparently.

The last week has shown that Scott Howson is willing to change his tune but for how long? Those Brian Burke, Jay Feester get Stanley Cup quick schemes simply don’t work like they’re supposed to. The Leafs and Flames sit at 10th and 11th in their respective conferences. Scott Howson is just going to have to suck it up for the long haul this time. It’s the only way.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have already put themselves behind the 8 ball. They can’t afford to waste anymore years.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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About Chris Ross
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3 Responses to Behind the 8 Ball

  1. Nice to see a hockey post here Chris. The Blue Jackets are closer to getting it right now than at any other time in their history. It took my Ducks a decade to reach the Stanley Cup Final and half decade to win its first Cup. We rode a hot goalie and pushed the Devils to a 7 game series. With parity in the NHL the operative word, turnarounds can come quickly. Look at the Flyers and the Bruins since shipping out Joe Thornton.
    When Marc Methot gets healthy, the top four of Tyutin, Johnson, Methot and Wisniewski may not rewrite the record books but they’re not too shabby either.
    Come June teams will be falling all over themselves for Rick Nash. Howson should have no trouble getting a good goalie, a young up and coming top 6 forward and a #1 draft pick.
    You’re right. Columbus will struggle for a couple more years but at least they can reset their salary structure and rebuild from the blue line and up the middle instead of from the wing position. What did they invest in Nash something like 12% of their cap in a winger? That’s nuts.

  2. urban daddy says:

    I like your writing style. Well done.

    As a Leafs fan, I’m 41 so they last won 4 years before I was born, I am cautiously being patient with Burkie and the Leafs. He has the youngest team in the NHL and he builds depth by signing free agents then trading them for more younger players and or picks. It’s slow, but this is the best I’ve seen the Leafs and their farm system since I’ve been alive. They have real potential.

    That being said, from my point of view, the Leafs, Raptors, Jays and Toronto FC are all in the same boat – they stink. At least the Leafs are actually re-building. They have a plan, they have some quality players but a not-so-good coach, IMHO.

    Next year!

    This year… stick a fork in them because they are done.

    As for Nash… They’ll look great in Quebec City next year. 🙂 Wait that’s Phoenix. The Jackets will have to sign a bunch of free agents to top $$’s to hit the cap floor and that messes up the salary structure in the league. The NHL should step in and force some teams to give the Jackets some talent… They’re the really Blue Jackets…

  3. I remember when Rick Nash said that during the NHL Lockout, the Blue Jackets (and most other small-market teams) lost a lot of their fan base. The Blue Jackets better be rebuilding quickly, as they are turning into the Wizards of the NHL.

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