According to Columbus Dispatch beat writer Aaron Portzline, two significant pieces of news emerged from last week's meeting of the Columbus Blue Jackets' owners.
The first is that Jeff Carter is on the trading block seven months after he was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers.
The second is that the men who made that trade — team president Mike Priest and GM Scott Howson — are both likely to be retained even after this catastrophic season.
Can you believe that?
It's their team. It's their money. It's their call. But is there any logical, sane argument that could be made for keeping either or both men in control of the franchise if they turn around and trade Carter, affirming their initial deal for him as one of the worst in team history?
No wonder Blue Jackets fans are protesting.
When he traded Jakub Voracek and two draft picks that would become centers Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins, Howson proclaimed that Carter was the No. 1 center the team coveted and needed. Injuries cut Carter's season short, as he has 17 points in 30 games, but he and Rick Nash have also looked like oil and water out there at times.
Now, he's 100-percent available according to TSN's Darren Dreger (via the Edmonton Journal):
"The contract is going to be a significant issue for most teams who would show interest to get over. Jeff Carter's a big strong guy; he can play center, can play the wing, he's a potential 40-goal man, so in that regard of course there'd be interest. Rumour the Toronto Maple Leafs would show interest: Toronto says they're not interested, they have not talked to Columbus about this deal. Primarily, here's why: Brian Burke and most sane general managers would want nothing to do with that [contract]. After this year, he's got 10 years remaining on a contract that pays him $5.27 [million] in terms of cap hit every single year. Columbus would like to trade Jeff Carter. They'd also like to get a similar package in return to what they gave Philadelphia, and that's a high draft pick and a good young roster player. I say good luck."
A Dreger notes, Carter's value is diminished and a trade now would be one of necessity — which never yields the same bounty as dealing from a position of power. But it's not like Howson didn't know that acquiring that contract was going to be a difficult re-sale.
The notion that the Jackets could trade for a star player — that, frankly, may have never wanted to be there to begin with — and might recycle him into other assets under a year later is damning beyond belief for management. So are these other sins of the organization that Portzline listed on Thursday, including:
Every blown draft pick, every player who is not developed correctly, or isn't taught how to be a difference-making NHL player, represents a losing, miserable season that was spent in vain. It's a season that was wasted by the fans who spent thousands of dollars on tickets and merchandise, wasted by the quality NHL players who only have so many years to play this grand game, and wasted by ownership group, who spends (and loses) millions of dollars on this venture each season.
Being wasteful is a vicious cycle. Players come and players go. Veteran UFAs moved for draft picks. More veterans are signed to plug the perceived holes on the roster. Then, a few months later, they're moved on for draft picks. Never is there any traction, it seems, not in Columbus.
Carter would just be the next rotation in that cycle.
Blue Jackets fans are planning a protest at Nationwide Arena on Saturday, asking for the ouster of Priest and Howson. It may not set attendance records, but it's another reminder that this isn't a lost market. It's a market that's been ready to embrace a winner with rabid fervor; but the current regime, sadly, seems incapable of giving them one.