Jackets have reason to be Blue

Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates winning goal in the third period of action...

Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates winning goal in the third period of action between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre Dec. 30, 2010. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:16 PM ET

The Columbus Blue Jackets are pretty much the perfect example of how not to run a NHL organization.

Their first-round draft picks have been way more disappointments — Pascal Leclaire, Nikolai Zherdev, Alexandre Picard, Nikita Filatov — than success stories.

Their big-ticket free-agency signings — Mike Commodore, Kristian Huselius, James Wisniewski — have been disastrous.

They’ve been to the playoffs once in franchise history and are destined to finish last in the league and pick first overall after this season.

And now they are reportedly starting an auction for Rick Nash.

How many steps back would such a move mean for the Blue Jackets?

By no means has Nash been as great of a player as credited. Now in his ninth season, the 2002 first-overall pick has hit the 40-goal mark a grand total of twice and not yet reached the 80-point barrier, although much has to be placed on the horrible supporting cast he’s had to work with since arriving in the league.

However, the last thing Columbus should do right now is trade away a player of the calibre of Nash, who will turn 28 years old in June. History has been unkind to clubs which trade away top players and how poorly it worked out.

Rarely do teams receive the franchise-changing return.

Think of the Atlanta Thrashers deals involving Marian Hossa (Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a draft pick which became Daulton Leveille) and Ilya Kovalchuk (Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier and first round pick which was flipped to Chicago in the Dustin Byfuglien trade).

Those are just a couple of examples.

Sure, maybe Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, who was reportedly given an approved list from Nash which includes the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, will make it work by holding something of an auction.

But trading away Nash will be yet another turning point in the Blue Jackets woeful history, and there are no guarantee doing so ensures a better future.

FLAMING C-NOTES

It sure hasn’t been the season Mikael Backlund expected, with a broken finger keeping him out of action the first six weeks and now a shoulder injury that could finish the season — both sandwiching a four-goal, 11-point 41 games. But it would be foolish for the Flames to not see how the 2007 first-round pick bounces back next season. Backlund was oversold as a top-line centre by former GM Darryl Sutter, but he could still develop into a solid second-liner … When Jose Theodore won the Hart Trophy following the 2001-02 season, it was because he backstopped the Canadiens into a playoff spot. Would getting the Flames into the post-season earn Miikka Kiprusoff some Vezina Trophy or Hart Trophy attention? It should … Every forward playing for the AHL Abbotsford Heat had better have a suitcase packed since the Flames aren’t carrying an extra forward and seem to lose a player to injury on a nightly basis.

HOCKEY TALKY

Not sure which is harder to believe, the New York Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference by a wide margin or Ottawa’s Jason Spezza is No. 2 in the NHL’s scoring race. But, there they are and deservedly so. Honestly, who saw that coming four months ago? … One thing we all could see coming was Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter calling out Dustin Penner. Penner, whose time in L.A. has amounted to 19 points (7-12-19) in 62 games since last year’s trade which cost Colten Teubert and 2011 first-round pick used to take Oscar Klefbom and a 2012 conditional third-rounder, has been a healthy scratch the past few games. Sutter’s message: “Work your (butt) off. Then you get a chance to play again. If you don’t, you don’t.” … It’s true the fans in Montreal who cheered when Zdeno Chara was hit in the face by a puck in Wednesday’s game against Boston should be called out and labelled as “classless.” However, it should hurt those fans even more that Brad Marchand is in a position to call them that name … As bad as the Chicago Blackhawks have been, there’s no way firing head coach Joel Quenneville is the answer. If he was gassed, the Columbus Blue Jackets should ask immediately about hiring him … Can’t help but wonder how many Western Conference teams are looking at the Anaheim Ducks surge and thinking, “They can’t do this again, can they?” … We’re about ready to call the Washington Capitals the league’s biggest disappointment — yes, even with the Buffalo Sabres — but we’ll give it a couple of more weeks, especially with Mike Green due to return very soon.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It’s not like you punch in at the rink and you go home and you’re clear mentally. That would be the ultimate goal, but we take our jobs seriously. We want to win and everyone is concerned away from the rink.”

— Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Sharp to the Chicago Tribune

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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