Will Rick Nash Request A Trade?

The Losses Mount, and the Bills are Piling Up in Columbus.

Earlier this week, Mike Modano suggested on his Twitter account that Rick Nash should seek a trade:

9modanoMike Modano
Rick Nash please ask for a trade..!

The word of Mike Modano obviously isn’t going to be the deciding factor for the Columbus captain, but it is a good reason to start the discussion, and begin churning the rumor mill.  After all, when a legend like Modano speaks out publically and implores you to explore your options, I think it’s safe to say that the thought has at least crossed Nash’s mind.  If watching Nash struggle in Columbus is painful for veterans just watching the game – even when they have no particular emotional investment in the team or the player –  imagine how Nash himself must feel.
Dating back to last season, the Blue Jackets have been without a regulation win for 30 straight contests.  Granted, in that time span they have picked up some shootout victories, but in reality, these are gimmick wins that a team cannot rely on with regularity.  To put into perspective just how bad this team has been, consider that the expansion Winnipeg Jets who entered the league in the late 1970’s once went on a 35 game winless streak.  They were basically a minor league team playing in the NHL that year, and yet the Blue Jackets are coming dangerously close to drawing even with that horrendous record.  Their next 4 contests are against the Red Wings, Sabres, Blackhawks and Ducks, three of whom have recent Cup wins to their name.
Darren Dreger has suggested that the team won’t evaluate progress until it sees how things look with Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski in the line-up.  Fair enough.  The problem with that though, is that the damage is already done whether the team’s performance during the first eight games was an accurate reflection of potential or not.  If the projected points required to reach the playoffs remains the same as last season (97), the Jackets would have to finish the season going 48-27.  It is highly unlikely that Carter and Wisniewski add so much firepower that the team suddenly rises from the grave and performs at a pace of 20 games above 500 over a 70 game stretch.  Moreover, injuries are part of the deal in the NHL, and if you can’t battle out at least some wins with injuries, than you don’t have the necessary depth required to be competitive.
There is a financial issue at play here too.  Carter was a last ditch effort to try and push the Jackets into the playoffs where the team would receive much needed playoff revenue.  After taking a huge loss last year, and watching attendance slip continually, the owners decided to throw money at the problem.  However, it is now rumored that if the team is not successful in making the playoffs, the operating losses for the season will be double what they were last year.  That is a blow the Jackets simply cannot handle.  When the arena only brings in six thousand patrons – and that’s the announced (ie. bogus) attendance – it’s time to start shedding salary.
Nash has done all he could possibly do to get this franchise up and running.  He didn’t turn and run to a more stable franchise at his first chance.  He decided to stick it out and see if Scott Howson could get it done.  He has watched management overspend on over-rated mediocrity time and time again.  He has watched the scouting staff repeatedly fail to bring in a roster player using lottery area and top ten draft selections.  He has watched as coach after coach has tried and failed to get the team moving in the right direction.  Now Carter is supposedly the answer, but Carter has a boo-boo and doesn’t seem too interested in suiting up for the Jackets anyways (early reports after the trade to Columbus suggested he was furious about his destination).  Is it possible Nash has had enough?  I think so, and I think this was the last straw:
At some point this season, look for the Jackets to do a complete overhaul.  That means new management, new scouting staff, and new players.  That means aiming to land Nail Yakupov at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.  That means cutting out all major salary.  That means moving the only truly successful draft pick the Jackets have ever made, and one of the only players who has ever shown Ohio enough loyalty to stick around with a long term deal.  Nash’s loyalty has been admirable, but at this point, the record of futility is too massive to ignore any longer.
So where will Nash go?  Well, a couple of early favorites might have been revealed in this interview with Hockey Night In Canada Nash did two years ago (when Columbus looked like they were done being the laughing stock of the league):
Towards the end of the video, Nash points out that Joe Thornton might have dropped him a line (the Sharks would have to move some salary, but they could likely make it work for a guy like Nash), and he also mentions that he grew up loving the Maple Leafs, and imagining one day wearing the jersey.  The Leafs finally have the assets to make a deal of that nature, and Brian Burke is not shy about moving high-end draft picks.  Look for the Nash situation to get very interesting as this season progresses.

3 Responses to Will Rick Nash Request A Trade?

  1. slapper_mike says:

    Nice article, Cameron.

    Man I hope your hunch is right.

    • I hope so too. It would be especially sweet if we got him at a reasonable price because of that NMC. Hopefully the Kings blew their big deal on RIchards and won’t get in on the sweepstakes (if this happens at all).

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