Don't be selfish, Ryan Johansen
Summer is over.
It pains me to write this. Ryan Johansen is my favorite Blue Jacket. But enough is enough.
A common sentiment today after Jarmo Kekalainen's scathing interview with The Dispatch is that the Blue Jackets need to "pay the man his money." He's a star player and you need star players so pay him whatever he wants. I don't buy it. And if that's Johansen and agent Kurt Overhardt's negotiation tactic, I have this to say: Ryan, you need a new agent.
Johansen's not asking for a modest bump over the going market rate. Not even close. In fact, he's asking for practically double what comprable players have asked for in recent years, like Matt Duchene's 2 year, $7 million bridge deal.
Duchene, who's a leader of the Colorado Avalanche, winner of an Olympic Gold medal, and has put up a far more impressive career than Johansen, made $3.75 million last year. There may be some bizarro reality where Johansen's single 63-point season is worth $6.5 million a year, but not in the one where Duchene has put up 55, 67, and 70 points in three of his five NHL seasons, and signed a contract extension last year for 5 years, $30 million.
So, what'll it be? Will you be the guy who steps up, delivers, and gets paid a boatload of money when it's earned? Or will you go back to being the guy who got scratched in the American Hockey League not even two years ago?
Another criticism I've seen today is, "Why side with management on this type of thing?" And even some comparisons of it being like siding with owners during a lockout. Except, we're talking about realities here. Johansen's not a leader. He's not collecting awards as the best in his position. He's not an Olympic champion.
The Blue Jackets paid Rick Nash and named him captain. Such loyalty. We've cheered for Nik Zherdev, Steve Mason, and Derick Brassard. All guys who got paid well before they earned it.
No more. Columbus no longer has management without long-term vision. Columbus is no longer a team that has to overpay the likes of Mike Commodore just in order to get someone signed during free agency.
And the fans? We want to cheer for Brandon Dubinsky, Scott Hartnell, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Nathan Horton. Guys who show up every night, don't give you a reason to question their passion, their intention, their dedication.
Which set of names does Johansen want to belong to?
Columbus finally has a team worth fighting for - a team that could make serious noise in the playoffs. This isn't like the days when the team pencils in a bunch of rookies and finds ways to justify the phrase, "I like our chances." With a few more bounces, or a healthy Horton, or just a bit more firepower, this team may have knocked off the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round last year. Isn't that something worth being a part of?
Has Johansen not seen the Blackhawks' and Kings' rise to dominance? Has he not seen that leaders, goal scorers, and stars get paid in due time? He has an opportunity to get Jonathan Toews money. Just not this year. But if Johansen's (or Overhardt's) ego is worth more than being a part of something special, so be it. If sports teaches us anything, it's this: Life goes on.
This team is worth fighting for, and I'm damn glad Jarmo Kekalainen and John Davidson are fighting for it. At this stage, Johansen isn't, and that's a problem. But life goes on.