Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Forget the fans, Howson should sell

With the NHL trade deadline a week away, the decision whether to buy or sell rests not only in the mind of Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson, but in the mail of season ticket-holders.

The 2008-09 ticket renewal packages arrived at homes and businesses the past few days. It will be interesting to see if they are immediately returned with a renewal check, are held for a few weeks to see whether the Jackets strengthen the roster through trades -- either to add talent now in hopes of making the playoffs or to slash payroll so they can afford to bring in better players in the offseason -- or are burned in protest.
Scott Howson's in a tough spot. He's operating a franchise that desperately needs to make the playoffs for the first time ever, and his team, if you look at the standings, appears to be close enough, only five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

Complicating matters is the fact much of his core is set to be unrestricted: top defencemen Adam Foote, Jan Hejda and Ron Hainsey, as well as forwards David Vyborny, Mike Peca and Sergei Fedorov.

If Howson's going to sell, there's a lot of value there.

The fact is, the Blue Jackets are out of it. To make the playoffs last season in the Western Conference, the Flames finished in eighth with 96 points — and Columbus would have to go 16-3-1 to close the year to pull that off.

Even if the cutoff is 92, they'd still need a dream run, 14-5-1, to sneak in.

It's not going to happen, and Howson needs to ignore the media hype, the fact his arena is half full and the likely pressure from ownership and somehow guide this team toward next season. If he tries to be a buyer, or hangs onto his pending UFAs, in the hopes of some last-ditch push, it's going to come up short, and they'll have bet the farm on a pipe dream.

The fans in Columbus certainly deserve a playoff contender by now, but the only way that's happening is if they can hold out one more year.

It's going to be interesting.



At 1:50 p.m., February 20, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

Don't be a fool, Howson. Sell sell sell. If you hold on this year you won't see the playoffs any time soon.

At 1:57 p.m., February 20, 2008, Blogger Jason Savage said...


Nice work as always. If I were Howson, I would try and work out a two year deal with Foote, three years with Hainsey, and two years with Hejda.

Move Fedorov, Peca, and Vyborny if you can.

If Howson can get a legit number one center to play with Nash and their young core takes a step, they could be talking playoffs in '09.

At 2:16 p.m., February 20, 2008, Anonymous PPP said...

James, your anti-Columbus rhetoric never ends does it? (had to get that in first)

But seriously, no team can think they are playoff ready let alone Cup contenders if the Leafs handle them so easily.

And I'm looking at Ottawa, Montreal, and Boston too.

At 2:52 p.m., February 20, 2008, Blogger Fauxrumors said...

Based on our sources the Jackets are sellers. Howson has been working the phones big time to clear out his roster.

Nash to the Oilers is as good as done from what I am hearing.

At 3:42 p.m., February 20, 2008, Anonymous IllegalCurve said...

There is no chance Howson doesn't sell. He's far too smart to fall into that trap. He has assets which he can use to build for the future. It really isn't a hard decision.

At 5:16 p.m., February 20, 2008, Anonymous crash-test-domi said...

Fauxrumors? Thats not you Eklund, is it? Nooooooooo,not here too!

At 5:36 p.m., February 20, 2008, Blogger Fauxrumors said...

I can assure you I am not that Fraud Eklund.

What I say is what is really talked about by the GM's and I rarely miss on what I post as rumours!

Nash to Oilers will be announced tonight.

At 5:40 p.m., February 20, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Okay, enough. I'm going to start deleting all this nonsense.

At 7:14 p.m., February 20, 2008, Anonymous scott said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:14 p.m., February 20, 2008, Blogger godot10 said...

Howson has to both buy and sell.

He needs to get a good-to-elite established centre for Nash.

So you might see him trading a young player or two, a prospect or two, and a 1st round for say Brad Richards.

At 9:41 p.m., February 20, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They really ought to fold the Blue Jackets.

At 9:43 p.m., February 20, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

It's certainly looking like next year's going to be lean at the gate, but going into their eighth season with this being their best year, I can't really blame the fans.

It's really too bad because that team's been well-supported up until now.


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