I'm not going to get into who the "bad guy" in the Rick Nash saga is. Frankly, I could care less who's to blame for what. What I care about is the future of the Blue Jackets. And why I should care about the team. So, think of this as an open letter to J.P. McConnell.
I've loved hockey ever since I saw my first San Francisco Seals game as an 8 year-old. I watched through some pretty terrible hockey before the team moved to Cleveland. Then, for years - including moves from San Francisco to Reno, Nev. then here, I was able to follow hockey mostly via newspapers and the odd game on tv. Then came the Jackets. You know what? I miss that first year team. I went to a game, late in the season. Everyone, I mean absolutely everyone, knew the Jackets were going to come in last and they were playing for nothing but pride. Jody Shelley personally turned me into a CBJ fan by playing as if it were the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Finals. You want me to lay down money to watch another Blue Jackets game, or support the team by buying a jersey, tee shirt or other paraphernalia? Give me a team like that first one and here's my suggestions how.
1 - Fire Scott Howson. Nice guy. He has built up the talent level in the system. But his handling of the Nash episode only proves that he's still learning to be a GM and, frankly, we don't need a GM who requires on the job training. We need someone like Craig Patrick. An experienced GM who knows the ins and outs, and how to get things done. If Patrick doesn't want the job, find someone who does.
2 - Hire an experienced NHL coach who has a definite playing style in mind. I'm not promoting Todd Richards, though he might be a good choice, but someone similar. A coach who has experience, has learned how to get the best out of his players and has had to deal with the ups and downs of NHL level hockey.
3 - Trade Rick Nash. Not only does he want "out", but I have to wonder about something. We keep hearing about the "country club" atmosphere in the Jackets' clubhouse. Well, for ten years, the team has repeatedly changed coaches, assistant coaches, numerous players, GMs, front office personnel and more. But what has been the constant? Rick Nash. Is this coincidence? Maybe and maybe not.
4 - In all trades, bring in players with attitudes like Vinny Prospal's, RJ Umburger's, Derek Dorsett's, etc. Guys who, maybe, are not the most talented, but who work their asses off and CARE. That was the hallmark of those early Jackets teams. They lacked talent. They made mistakes. They even were a bit funny on ice at times. But they cared about their team, their teammates and us fans. No matter what, they wanted to put on the best show they possibly could and they played their hearts out.
Give me these four things and I'll be happy to sit through a few more losing seasons as the team climbs to respectability. But as long as Howson and company keep working to ensure that Columbus and the Blue Jackets are the laughingstock of the hockey world, why should I care about the Jackets? I don't think I should, because it seems that the Jackets don't care about me (or any other fan).