Inside The Rick Nash Negotiations
Since these are popular around here I figured I would try one of my own. This is a "vision" I got of what went on in the Blue Jackets' war room yesterday. It will also serve as the final Rick Nash story of the year (well, until the summer anyway).
The scene opens in an airy office with a large wooden table in the middle. Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson sits on one end of the table talking into his cellphone and typing on his laptop. Next to him sits senior advisor Craig Patrick. In front of them sit four other employees of the Columbus Blue Jackets who are watching TSN to see the trades that are going down.
Scott Howson: Dougy, how many times do we need to go over this? If you want Nash you need to give us a good deal. We're not accepting any deals without getting back ... uhh. Howson looks over at Patrick distraught and confused. Patrick points to a name on a piece of paper. Howson, looking relieved, nods.
Howson: COUTURE! We won't do any deal without getting back Couture!
Rick Nash walks into the office, which shocks Howson so badly he nearly falls out of his chair.
Howson: Uhh, let me call you back. I'll talk to you later. Bye. Howson hangs up the phone despite Doug Wilson still talking, and composes himself.
Howson: Rick, what are you doing here? Take a seat.
Rick Nash: Thanks Scott, I just wanted to talk to you for a minute.
Howson: Sure Rick, what's on your mind?
Join me after the jump for more.
Nash: Well I heard that you are continuing to make irrational trade demands for me, and I kind of wanted to remind you that there's only three hours left before the trade deadline.
Howson: That's plenty of time. And I don't think I'm being irrational at all.
Nash: Look, Scott, I have six years left on my contract at $7.8 million. Whatever team that trades for me is going to be getting a great player and a huge risk as well. There is a CBA battle looming and no one knows what's going to happen to the salary cap. Hell, it might even decrease. Plus, teams know you're looking to move me. I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to get a fair deal, but you can't expect a team to just overpay for me.
Howson trys to respond but comes up with nothing. He opens and closes his mouth for about a minute before Patrick hastily comes in.
Craig Patrick: Rick you have to understand that we need to get the best offer possible for you.
Howson (cutting Patrick off): Don't you think a team like the Islanders or the Edmonton Oilers will overpay for you? I'm negotiating with both right now. They need a superstar to distract their fans from their regular hockey.
Nash: Guys, I'm not accepting a trade to either of those teams. I've already given you a short list of teams I'll accept a trade too.
Howson: Is that what this is? Howson holds up a piece of paper that has Nash's acceptable teams to be traded to on. Howson has obviously been using it as a notepad with terms like, "remember to sound confident," "remember to always deny the first trade offered, always!" and "remember to buy milk from the grocery store tonight," all over the paper.
Howson: It doesn't matter where you want to be traded Rick, it's where we are going to get the best deal.
Nash: I have a no trade clause, Scott ...
Howson (confused): What?
Patrick: It means he can veto a trade to any team he doesn't want to go to.
Howson: Even if I come to terms with another general manager?
Nash and Patrick together: Yes.
Howson: Well this changes everything. Craig, dial up Glen Sather please. Ricky, the Rangers are on this "short list" thingy of your right?
Nash nods eagerly.
Howson: Hello Glen? Hey, I'm willing to renegotiate. Why don't we start with Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, two of your grandchildren -- you can choose which two -- and Henrik Lundqvist.
Nash slams his head on the table.
Glen Sather (on speaker phone): Scott, I've told you already that you're not getting Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto or Chris Kreider. I'll give you Brandon Dubinsky, this year's first round draft pick and Christian Thomas.
Howson: What am I going to do with Thomas? And what am I going to do with a first round draft choice? The only player the Blue Jackets have successfully drafted in the first round the past 10 years is Nash, and now he wants out ... erm ... and now we're looking to move him. We traded last year's first round pick for Jeff Carter (who I then traded before the season was over) and that pick turned into Sean Couturier. (Howson starts getting worked up) In fact, the two best first round picks this team has drafted the past decade not named Nash were Nik Zherdev and Nikita Filatov, both of whom were traded away due to attitude issues! So no sir, you can keep your first round pick. Keep all of them! You went too far Glen, TOO FAR! DON'T EVER CALL ME AGAIN! (Howson slams the phone down).
Nash: Scott ...
Howson: Shut it Rick! I'm not trading you for nothing, it makes no sense at all.
Nash: The issue isn't trading me for nothing, it's that you have an irrational belief of what I'm worth. It's public knowledge that you're looking to move me and you know I won't accept a trade off my list of acceptable teams.
Patrick (looking at Howson): Rick, I think you should know that Scott and I have agreed that we won't be trading you if, in fact, we don't get a deal to our liking.
Nash (furious): WHAT!? Look, you guys, you don't have many options. You don't seem to understand that you have to trade me. You no longer have a choice. The world knows I'm on the block, and since there have been no other big names on the market, I'm the only story the rumor guys are following. If you don't trade me it will be suicide for all of us. You will look like a moron for refusing to lower your standards on a guy who isn't worth as much as you're demanding. I will look like an asshole for trying to force my way out of Columbus, and would be forced to finish the season as the captain of the team despite asking to be removed. Oh yeah, good luck selling tickets with me as your poster-boy anymore. And finally, and more importantly because I really do love the city of Columbus, you would screw over this franchise. It's not worth it Scott, you have to trade me, you simply have to.
Here's the other thing, I won't look like that much of an asshole when all is said and done. You've failed to put a winning team around me, despite the fact that I signed a long contract to help to lure free agents to the Blue Jackets. I tried to stick around, I really did. I want to win here, honestly Scott I do, but it's not going to happen. Not while I'm young anyway. The biggest move you have made to surround me with talent was Jeff Carter and he was so miserable you needed to trade him away for a disappointing package. You were never close to building a winner this year Scott, I just talked myself into the fact that you were.
Both Howson and Patrick's mouths are wide open as they stare at Nash.
Patrick (quietly to Howson): Maybe we should think about this. He might be right, keeping him could be bad.
Howson (defiantly): No! No, no, no, no, no. You don't trade the face of the franchise for nothing. You don't!
Guy in front of TV: I'm just an intern here, so this might not be my place, but even I can see that you need to trade him. You don't want your captain to demand a trade and then remain on the team for the rest of the year. What type of message does that send to the fans and, more importantly, the younger guys on the team? You can get good value for him, a group of prospects and picks would do well to get this franchise moving in the right direction again.
Howson: Shut the hell up, Phil.
Guy in front of TV: My name is Rob ...
The phone rings. Howson hits the talk button.
Sather: Scott it's 2:45, I want to make one more attempt at this. I'll give you Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, J.T. Miller, Christian Thomas and this year's first round pick for Nash.
Nash holds his breath while Patrick being furiously typing on his computer to figure out who Erixon, Miller and Thomas are.
Howson: Glen, that's only one NHL player-
Sather (cutting Howson off): Before you say no just hear me out. Dubinsky is an NHL player who knows what it takes to win, has 50-point potential and can play both sides of the puck. Erixon would be with the big club right now if it weren't for guys like Staal, McDonagh, Del Zotto and Girardi taking his ice time away. Trust me, if I could get him more than 10 minutes a night he would be playing his home games at MSG. Then there's Thomas and Miller, two of our best prospects and this year's first round pick. It's a good haul for a guy who is on his way out anyway and will only accept a trade to a couple of teams. Think about it.
Patrick: Glen, Thomas only scored eight goals his first two seasons in the OHL ...
Sather: Uhh, alright. He's scored 125 goals his last 178 games.
Howson: Eh, I'm not feeling it.
Sather: Really, guys?
Patrick and Howson share a look, and both nod.
Howson: I'm sorry Glen, but unless you add Carl Hagelin and either Stepan, McDonagh or Kreider into that deal it's a no go.
Sather: Scott, you can't be serious.
Howson: If you think I'm going to bend just because my star player might finish the season with the "C" on his chest despite demanding a trade then you're out of line. I'm not getting fleeced for Nash, not again. This is the new-look Columbus Blue Jackets. If we are a laughingstock then we're a laughingstock. More teams will be interested in Nash come the summer.
Nash: Scott, I'm not changing my list of teams ...
Howson: It doesn't matter. Glen, sweeten the pot or stop wasting my time.
A dial tone comes through the speakers. Nash looks as though he is about to explode, even Phil/Rob's jaw is hanging.
Nash (livid): That was a great offer! You could have used those pieces to rebuild!
Howson: Rick, when are you going to get that it's not about rebuilding, it's about now. You think I'm the bad guy here? I'm not the bad guy. Go get your stuff and get back down to practice, I have a press conference to dominate.