Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson may not have made the jaw-dropping Rick Nash trade that might have saved the worst trade deadline ever, but he still managed to make one of the most surprising moves of the day. As the deadline passed and Nash remained an Ohioan, Howson proceeded to deflect blame and disclose that Nash had asked for the trade.
You had to know Nash had to say something if he had any hope of remaining a popular figure in Ohio, and speak he did, going with the "I was asking for a friend" approach. That friend? Your Columbus Blue Jackets. From Blue Jackets Xtra:
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.
And on whether or not he believes in the direction of the club:
I think I answered that question when I signed my long-term deal. I believe in ownership, I believe in Scott Howson. I love being a Blue Jacket, love the city, love the fans — and that is something that will never change.
Again, Nash had to say something, but framing himself as the anti-Sundin, willing to waive his no-trade clause and be dealt out of a place of altruism, is an interesting approach.
Obviously, he didn't go fully charitable, admitting that he felt a move was the best thing for his career, but to frame it as part of a decision he made to help make Columbus better? Not bad. He may have just dealt the "jilted superstar" narrative a decisive blow.
To my mind, Howson's disclosure stank any way you looked at it. Ohio sports fans are already quite sensitive when it comes to stars wanting out (*cough* Lebron *cough*), so they were going to eat this up. Considering the fanbase, Howson's painting Nash as a superstar wanting out was either ignorance or cruelty, not unlike Pierre Gauthier hiring Randy Cunneyworth without preparing for the bilingualism controversy.
I'm of the mind that it was the latter, a deliberate attempt at deflection Howson knew would hit hard in Ohio (and I was especially convinced after he laughed maniacally, covered his mouth with a cape, tossed a smoke bomb and disappeared.) Nash's response seems carefully considered as well. Did it work?
Is it enough to calm the outrage in Columbus?