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On Tuesday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets lost to the Calgary Flames 2-1 in a shootout and that was enough for general manager Scott Howson.
When it comes to tinkering with the roster to improve the team, he said, "We'll be active."
Well isn't that refreshing?
The loss was Columbus' 27th of the season (including those in OT and the shootout) in 36 games. Their 37th game produced a victory, but at a high cost: Defenseman James Wisniewski broke his ankle and will miss six weeks.
Despite being one of the highest-paying teams in the league and going on a considerable offseason spending spree, the Blue Jackets have been nothing short of embarrassing for most of the season. A team spending to the cap having only nine wins at this point in the season is almost impossible to reckon, except we're seeing it happen.
And so now is the time Howson decides to make the trade? Not when the team's goal differential sank below minus-20 a few weeks ago? Not when the losses outnumbered the wins just 2-to-1? But after a late December shootout loss to a team that just beat Detroit and Vancouver on back-to-back nights?
His stated reason for this is that "the first six or seven weeks of the season, it was too disjointed." And to be fair the team did face a lot of injuries to key players like Jeff Carter or Kristian Huselius, and had to deal with the lengthy suspension of supposed power play quarterback Wisniewski.
But still, everyone on the planet was saying, "Well they have to do something," and Howson just stood there.
Every half-bad team in the league fired their coach and still Scott Arniel kept his job despite the bewilderment of the hockey world. He also said that wasn't something he's considering. Really.
"It was just too disjointed to get a clear picture," Howson said. "The picture is becoming clearer now. We aren't playing well enough and … me as management has to find a solution to help the team."
This isn't closing the barn door after the horse got out; it's waiting until the horse was decapitated and had his head put in a movie executive's bed.
Columbus is dead in the water. Has been for two months now, after going 2-9-1 in October. Finished. Over. Done. The cutoff for the playoffs in the Western Conference last year was 97 points. Including last night's win against Dallas, the Blue Jackets now have 25 points and would therefore need 72 from their remaining 45 games to reach that level.
That would require them to win about 35 of their remaining games, if you figure they'll pick up a couple OT losses along the way.
In other words, it's not going to happen.
So seriously, why bother trying to improve the team on the trade market? For what possible reason should a team so deep in the cellar they're next to skeletons whose arms are still chained to the walls start selling off assets in a vain attempt to be competitive down the stretch? Run up the white flag. Finish the season out in a way that Edmonton would have been proud of in the last few years. That's the only reasonable way to improve the team at this point.
Howson also says, rather cryptically, that he'll consider pretty much anything, which is interesting. It's good, in a way, that no one on the team is safe, but it's also more than fair considering the team's leading scorer right now is Vinny Prospal and best goalie is — no joke — Curtis Sanford. But still, the only thing Columbus should see as acceptable trades are those of veteran players for picks and prospects.
The players have done a bad job this year, as has the coach. And the general manager, to an extent, hasn't been able to do much. Columbus paid handsomely for something approaching top-end talent this year and before the season started, most would probably have said they did so wisely enough. The only blame the Howson faces, in my book, is that he waited far too long to pull the trigger on a decisive move to make his team competitive. That's a big problem, but not an unforgivable one.
Doing anything to improve the team for today, rather than the future, would be disastrous.
Sidney Crosby is now officially the Chili Cook-Off
Much was made this week of the fact that the planned two-game absence for Sidney Crosby after suffering what may or may not have been (but definitely was) a concussion has now stretched to eight games.
He's still experiencing symptoms too, though, and that always makes for some comical contortion from the media. "Every concussion case is different," is a generally accepted and oft-repeated thing media and fans alike say when guys like, I dunno, Guillaume Latendresse and Marcel Goc sit out a while with the issue.
But when they're told Crosby is taking his time coming back, that kind of sound logic goes out the window. Instead, every media member starts breathing heavily and stomping his feet and demanding that Crosby come back NOW. "Where's Crosby I wanna see him come back Coach Bylsma you're bein' mean just tell us come onnnnnnnnnnn."
I understand he's the best player alive and his return was awesome and we all love Sidney Crosby (except the idiots who don't) but, once again, it would be cool if everyone could be as understanding about his concussion as they are about the one suffered by Brian Rolston.
Who has one, by the way.
Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?
BizNasty on holiday traditions: "It's not Christmas until you've watched Ralphie go H.A.M on Scut Farkus."
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