Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 12/29/11

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting the following:

In short, Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager (GM) Scott Howson stated that the Blue Jackets will be active between now and the NHL’s trading deadline which is slated for February 27, 2012.  Howson further stated that the Blue Jackets are not playing to their expectations, that the team defense and goal-tending are not good enough and that everything is “on the table”.  However, Howson also qualified that a bit by saying the following:

“We’ve got to look at everything.  We’ve got to seriously look at everything.  Now that’s different than saying, ‘I’m going to phone every GM tomorrow and say who do you want, (Rick) Nash, (Jeff) Carter or (R.J.) Umberger?’ but we’ve got to look at the whole situation and we’ve got to consider everything.”

Okay, given their position as the NHL’s worst team (9-22-5) and given that it’s December 29, 2011 and their season is almost half over, I ask the following series of questions:

-  Define “active” – I’ve seen your previous versions of “active” and they were as follows:  trading Jason Chimera to the Washington Capitals for Chris Clark, Milan Jurcina and a 6th round pick (Jurcina was later dealt back to the Capitals as part of a conditional trade condition); acquiring via a waiver claim, Ethan Moreau of the Edmonton Oilers as his only move during the 2010 off-season, a previous season in which the Blue Jackets missed the playoffs after making it for the first time in their history; trading original Blue Jacket Rusty Klesla to the Phoenix Coyotes for Sami Lepisto and Scottie Upshall when the Howson claimed the Blue Jackets would be ‘buyers’ instead of ‘sellers’ at the trade deadline.

-  Why are you being “active” now when the season is completely lost?  Given their position, the Blue Jackets are not in a position of any strength to make any trade which could salvage any playoff hopes as a finishing record of 35-7-4 will be necessary to make the 8th and final playoff position.

-  What is the metric for success?  Is it to make the final playoff position?  Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said it best, “We’re in the performance business.” – Tallon said this when the Panthers were 5-4-1 after making a multi-player trade.  Tallon’s Panthers currently occupy the 3rd position in the Eastern Conference with a record of 14-7-1 since making that statement.  When asked to comment on expectations for success, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said the following, “I think that when you enter a season, if your expectation isn’t to win the Stanley Cup, then you’ve already sold your team short and you’ve already sold your expectation short.”

-  Why is the blame always directed at the players and never at yourself who acquired the players who aren’t living up to their expectations?  Howson was quoted as stating the following, “The team is not playing to its capabilities.  We’re way less than the sum of our parts right now.  You want to be in a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  I can offer so many other examples of this deflection of blame but the instances are far too numerous to mention.

-  If the organization is to preach and act upon accountability, if you can’t accept blame and accountability how can you expect the players to do the same?

-  Even you would consider every player to be ‘in play’ regarding a trade, do the fans trust that you can act in the best interests of the organization to enact a trade that will position the organization for future success?

-  In being active, would you consider adopting the model that has proven successful for the Pittsburgh Penguins and will be successful for the Edmonton Oilers, a model which requires patience, foresight and the humility to completely restructure the organization to that of stockpiling overall number one picks, NHL-ready prospects thus allowing even more salary cap flexibility and a talent pool that is directly aligned with ‘today’s NHL’?

-  If you would earnestly consider trading your star players such as Rick Nash, Jeff Carter and R.J. Umberger, are you able to obtain a ‘kings ransom’ or at least the deserved return for such NHL veteran talent?

-  If you have made personnel decisions to get the organization to its current state, should you be the person to move it out of its current state?  As it’s been almost two years since you’ve fired Ken Hitchcock as head coach, a coach who’s completely resurrected the fortunes of the St. Louis Blues – (note: Hitchcock has a record of 15-4-4 since taking the reigns behind the Blues bench), blame for your talent base can no longer be directed at Hitchcock.

-  If the head coach is not the problem – your reasons for not firing a coach with a record of 29-51-19 since his 14-6-0 start – then how can a team not playing to its capabilities be anything but an issue of coaching?

So while it’s acceptable to finally acknowledge that the current situation is unacceptable, your plan to become active is a prime example of ‘too little, too late.’

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