Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets is a model of loyalty, a prince of patience.
He's had one winning season since he entered the league — ditto the franchise for which he plays. He's witnessed rebuilding seasons. He's witnessed brief moments of contention. He's witnessed a summer in which GM Scott Howson spent millions to improve the team, and then watched that season go down the toilet with the stench and velocity of a dead goldfish.
Nash is signed through 2018, and has a no-movement clause through 2015. Presumably, the Blue Jackets rebuild around him. But what if they felt moving him would hasten the rebuild? What if they asked him to waive his no-move clause?
"That's a tough question to answer in a situation like this," Nash said. "I love Columbus. I love being here. I love being a Blue Jacket.
"The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that — like you said, all speculation — but if they don't want me here, they want to move me? I'm not going to do something where it's going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract."
Every Blue Jackets fan, at some point, has probably mulled the idea of Nash ending up with the Toronto Maple Leafs or some other glamour franchise: Getting a top-line center, cranking out 50 goals as Columbus is in Year 5 of a seven-year rebuild or some such. It's not exactly a pleasant thought.
Question is: Should it be the direction the franchise takes?
He's been there since 2002, with little to show for it. The haul a player of his caliber signed for that long could bring back … the mind boggles. Would trading Rick Nash set this franchise on a different, better course?
No, and here's why: This season is the Hindenburg, but trading Rick Nash would be a titanic mistake.
The coach will go. The general manager and his decision to commit to a sieve between the pipes will go. It'll be their decision on how to handle this roster; but Nash should be there to build around, not to trade for building materials.
The NHL is a league of parity. One season's dregs are the next season's fairytale — look at the Florida Panthers.
Championship teams are still built through high draft choices over the course of several seasons; contending teams can be built in a month. A healthy Jeff Carter, a James Wisniewski that's actually there at the start of the season, goaltending that's an upgrade over wet tissue paper, a coach that has the vision thing instead of being unaware his team sucks 4-on-4 ... factor in the new travel schedule and maybe you go one more year with this core.
Here's hoping the Blue Jackets don't take Rick Nash up on his offer. As he's said, "I've put all my trust and loyalty into this organization." The organization owes that, at the very least, to the fans who want to see Nash there to celebrate this franchise's revival.
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