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Why I Wish Rick Nash Were On A Different Team, And That’s Allowed

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I’ve been on the receiving end of a fairly decent twitter-drubbing from Columbus Blue Jackets fans about a few Rick Nash tweets I made yesterday, especially about the comment that he’s “drowning” in Columbus.  Which was a little much, maybe. 

The intent was to praise Nash, not take pot-shots at CBJ, but I can fully understand why fans didn’t appreciate the barbs.  For what it’s worth Jackets fans, if you follow me with any regularity, you’re well aware I’m consistent in my criticisms - my own favourite team (the Islanders) has been far from sarcasm-exempt on this blog and twitter.

Great style.

That should probably make it hurt more, because it points to the fact that I’m usually without bias with those comments, meaning I wasn’t just taking pot shots without a point.

Let me explain myself:

I hate that Rick Nash plays for the Blue Jackets, because the majority of North America doesn’t care about the Blue Jackets.  Ohio is a great hockey state, and there seems to be plenty of proud, smart fans of the team.  But outside of that region, the national interest isn’t there.  It’s in Original Six teams, Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and so on.

Thus, when games are televised in primetime, or the Winter Classic teams are selected, Columbus is nowhere near to getting a second thought about being picked.  I know that hurts, and believe me, I can relate to that misery, but denying it is just silly fan bias thinking.  In turn, I never get (nobody ever gets, actually) to see Nash play unless they have the NHL package or they live in Ohio.

I do have the package, but again, I’m just not that interested in Columbus as a team, so it’s not worth watching the games all that often just to watch one player. (Unless Lebron is playing.  I’d tooootally tune in just to watch him. ….Oops, sorry Ohio :)

Woo-hoo, n stuff.

Beyond that, I’m frustrated for him because he should be one of the top few names mentioned when someone talks about the best players in the game.  If he played for the Maple Leafs or the Red Wings, best believe that would be the case.  He’s just out of the national spotlight there.

It’s even more endearing that he’s so loyal about staying there, given that he’s aware of all the things I’ve written above.  And better still, you know he believes they can win a Cup there in Columbus the way Carolina did in 2006.

And maybe they can.

But in playing for a team that doesn’t spend to bring in supporting talent, for one that instead shrewdly thrifts together a pretty good squad year after year, it greatly minimizes his Cup-winning odds.  Yes, the odd team in history has gotten it done without spending a ton, but it’s a rarity.  The playoffs are a long, tough grind that requires secondary scoring, tremendous defense and great goaltending.  While possible, it’s tough (and rare) to acquire the whole package on a budget.

Just a big, strong dude.

What that means then, is that a player who can do so much and be so great will swim upstream against the current until he’s forced to do the inevitable Ray Bourque-to-Colorado thing, and it may not work out.  A guy who could have a massive effect on a Stanley Cup Final may never get the chance to live out a defining moment.

Like I said, more power to the guy for being willing to battle for that city, but as a fan of the game, I think I’m allowed to wish he were on a different team. 

And something else to remember: just because I want him to go to a different team doesn’t mean that’s happening, like I’m the GM or something.  A lot of the responses I got from Blue Jackets supporters were along the lines of “just let us keep him,” or panicky-sounding, frenzied keyboard mashing, like when you take a baby’s favourite stuffy away. 

@akrygier —  @jtbourne is the sarah palin of hockey writing, who cares what he thinks.

Uh…..fair enough, I guess?

The moral of the story is this: I’m sure Columbus fans wish, say…. I dunno, Shea Weber or some other stud in a small market like that were on the Penguins.  He’s a great talent you’d like to see in primetime more, you’d like to see in the Winter Classic, you’d like to see in the late rounds of playoffs on a fully-funded team trying to win Cups, as opposed to a team that squeaks into playoffs and makes a first round exit.

I score in pictures with white jerseys! (But only skate when I'm in blue)

It’s not gonna happen, of course, but from a fan’s standpoint, and the standpoint of the history of hockey, I feel like Nash is a diamond, locked in a safety deposit box for no one to see. 

But Ohio, it’s your safety deposit box, and you get to see him plenty over the course of the season.  So, enjoy him, root for him, and hopefully he can bring you that Carolina-esque Cup your fans deserve.  But don’t hate on me because I want to have a peek at the stone once in awhile too.

Oh, and *ahem* …..sorry for the term “drowning.”  ‘Twas a bit much.

Happy humpday, folks.

Comments

31 Responses to “Why I Wish Rick Nash Were On A Different Team, And That’s Allowed”
  1. Rick Nash is flat out dirty. But really whats the reason to watch the Blue Jackets? It’s hard to watch a game for one player.. unless that player was the Great One.

    Can understand why CBJ fans were pissed though. Then again, I don’t know what its like to be a fan of a small market team.

  2. jtbourne says:

    Fully agree they had a right to be pissed, but I thought the poorly-worded point I made was legit – team would go downhill without him, and any team that he was added to would instantly grab additional points in the standings.

  3. Canadan82 says:

    This doesn’t really solidify your point, simply makes it less relevant to reality, unless you actually think that contraction in the NHL is going to start in Columbus, or that quality players should ONLY go to established markets for the sole purpose of exposing their talents to the drones who watch only what network television tells them to.

    You seem to be pretty sold on teams having to pay for success, yet ignore that Columbus has overpaid a number of times (with little success of actually bringing in quality talent **see: Mike Commodore, Sergei Fedorov, etc**) and have finally taken a step back and realized that building a franchise isn’t done through the free agency market, it is done through quality drafting and strong team play.

    Whether the NHL, VS, or NBC want to cover them or not, they are still very much in a playoff race in the West, and were a very poor December away from being one of the best teams in the West this year. Combine that with a coach the majority of the team is buying into, and budding players like Voracek and Brassard, along with a collection of prospects who could easily fill roles, Columbus can quickly become a predominant team in the NHL… And not just for one cup run like you apparently think they are working towards.

    Not to mention they are currently in the top 2/3 of the league in spending, so they are hardly a glaring example of a team ‘unwilling’ to spend, or fall even remotely close to the mess “your” Islanders are in.

    You’re welcome to your opinion JB, but don’t you think you should consider actually watching a game or two before you dump on an expansion team for trying to build the club the right way?

  4. Ryan R says:

    JB,

    As a Columbus fan, I’ve said “I want Nash to win eventually, even if it’s not with the Jackets” a number of times, and I really want him to. He deserves it.

    That said, they’re two points out of a playoff spot, man. They’re rattling off wins left and right. Can it be sustained, can they squeeze into the playoffs and eke out a run? This year, maybe, maybe not. But you don’t become a Cup contender every night, and I think Carolina is the perfect example. Clearly Nash believes that Columbus can do it, re-signing over the summer.

    We hear this all the time as fans, and a “You deserve to lose forever because you’re not a major market team and Justin Bourne wants to watch you on NBC” argument at this particular point of the season comes off as a little abrasive to this fan base. Forgive us–we’re sort of like that insecure boyfriend with a smokin’ hot girlfriend who gets a little pissy when he sees someone eying our girl.

  5. LeVy-Q says:

    Being a Columbus fan and PSL holder since day one, I can respect the comments and article. You are dead on when you say the man would be top 5 playing in a bigger market. While I also agree that the majority of the nation has no clue that we even have a hockey team, I do feel with a few consistent runs in the P.O.’s and a (keeping fingers crossed) possible 2014 all star game here we will start to bleed in to the rest.

    One thing I noticed at this years all star game were the amount of CBJ shirts/jerseys in the stands compared to any other team aside from carolina of course. Were getting there and as far as a winter classic, we WILL be in one in the next few years. Having a jackets vs wings game in the horseshoe with 110 thousands fans… That’s not marketable? It’s Ohio vs Michigan…big $ there. Again I appreciate an respect your article.

  6. jtbourne says:

    Thanks LeVy-Q – as I wrote, the fans there are great and deserve Nash and to have success. Just from a selfish viewpoint, I’m jealous you guys get him all to yourselves.

    Ryan – No, the team isn’t bad at all. I never called them bad. But they’ve just never been “top few teams” good, and I’d like to see what he could do on one of those squads. Maybe in the future, whether Columbus becomes that, or he goes somewhere else.

  7. Steve C. says:

    I agree, your point is quite legit. (…too bad the CBJ fans couldn’t have gotten past the analogy) Sometimes stars are trapped on under-competitive teams. It’s CBJ’s fault as an organization that they haven’t built a better team around someone with such talent. If they had, Nash would be blowing up the league and the CBJ’s would be a Cup contender.
    On similar note, I hope Sabers new owner Terry Pegula puts his money where his mouth is in vowing to do whatever it takes (i.e. spend money) to resurrect that franchise. Teams with owners who aren’t as committed to winning as the players/fans are a disgrace to the league.

  8. jtbourne says:

    Spending money isn’t always the solution, as many, many Ranger-esque teams have proven in the past, but it certainly helps when spent wisely. I could see the Sabres getting into the upper eschelon of teams in the East now that the purse strings have loosened.

  9. minnesotagirl71 says:

    Why is it that people don’t care about teams other than the Original Six – except people who live in a non-Original Six team’s market? How many years of history will a team need before they can get a little respect from the rest of hockey fan-dom? How many Cups will they have to win before anyone else cares to watch them play? So we (insert any team outside of the Original Six) don’t have 50 years of history. We haven’t had 50 seasons to attempt to win the Cup. Does that mean we will always be less than?

    In theory, wouldn’t the chance to win the Cup have been greater for teams who played in the 40s, 50s, 60s because they were competing against fewer teams? Or are they viewed as better because they were here first?

    Does baseball, football or basketball have this amount of snobbery surrounding the original teams in their leagues?

  10. jtbourne says:

    I don’t think it’s a Cup related thing, those teams have just been around longer to generate more fans. Dads grew up and had to choose between 6 (or however many) teams, became a fan on one of them, then passed their fandom down to their kids. There are generations of Bruins fans. I know my fave teams are my Dad’s fave, in all sports. Minnesota will get their Cup one day, and some kid will become a fan, move somewhere else and pass the Wild fandom on to his son in some obscure location. There are Original Six fans everywhere.

  11. Steve C. says:

    You see…you think you’re making sense and then…well, so much for MY choice of words!
    Yes, I forgot to mention the draft, players already in the system, trades, etc. are all a part of how an organization builds a successful team without spending money. But you have to admit, Buffalo spending to get Rick Nash would be one helluva way to start! Hmmm…maybe I’ll send Terry a note about that.

  12. DP says:

    I understand wanting to see Nash more, but don’t forget that Nash *chose* to stay in Columbus, to the tune of eight more years. In that way, I don’t think the safety deposit box analogy works. Nash would be a huge media star in Toronto, especially considering his roots in that area. But, when you talk to him, you get the sense that he’s happy to be in a market where he can just… *be*. Yes, he doesn’t catch as much flak if he has a bad game, but he also doesn’t have unrealistic explanations heaped upon him.

    The main problem for Nash and Columbus is that Douggie Mac spent years neglecting the draft, making questionable picks, and signing big grinders to way too much money, Ray Whitney excluded. Scott Howson was tasked with coming in and building a franchise from almost the ground up. He went the route of free agency in 2008, and built a bridge to give his young players time to develop. That’s finally starting to happen. To that end, Columbus has the potential to be a quality, dangerous playoff team in a couple of years, and to then be one for a nice window through a good chunk of Nash’s prime.

    in short, you may get your wish to see Nasher impact the playoffs in a big way (just look at what he’s doing now, for example), and it might just be in Columbus.

  13. Gumby says:

    I thought Rick Nash was one of the best players on Team Canada during the Olympics. Seeing him in the playoffs with a supporting cast like Crosby or Datsyuk have would be great. I don’t think I could name guys on the Blue Jacket’s 3rd or 4th line. And that’s a shame. Columbus is just one of those teams that flies under the radar and you don’t get to see very often.

  14. Derek says:

    “But in playing for a team that doesn’t spend to bring in supporting talent, for one that instead shrewdly thrifts together a pretty good squad year after year, it greatly minimizes his Cup-winning odds. Yes, the odd team in history has gotten it done without spending a ton, but it’s a rarity. The playoffs are a long, tough grind that requires secondary scoring, tremendous defense and great goaltending. While possible, it’s tough (and rare) to acquire the whole package on a budget.”

    I think this paragraph is the biggest problem here. The team IS willing to spend money and have spent money. They have re-upped their good free agents and brought in a few highly paid players (Commodore, Huselius, Fedorov, Foote), only to see those players play drop off pretty significantly upon arrival in Columbus. Problem is that the team is the Columbus Blue Jackets, and no player is going to take any kind of pay hit to play there, so the only time they can get a player in free agency is if they significantly outbid for them. I think you have this image of Columbus as a team that has a self imposed salary cap and will deal players or let them walk once they hit it. That simply isn’t the case. They are still a very young team, with a number of players on rookie deals still, which drags their cap hit down.

  15. Andrew says:

    Saw the tweet last night, JB and it got me thinking about Nash and CBJ etc.

    I think that players like Nash (in his situation) are usually in one of two categories. They are great talents that would explode in production on a better team and they’d instantly be included in that “top 5″ type of talk. Or they are overvalued because they are getting to play tons of minutes and are the go-to-guy on a bad team. Sometimes those guys eventually get traded and paired with a great linemate and the explosion in production never occurs. Olli Jokinen is a good example. Everyone was so excited about him in Florida and hoped he’d get a chance to play on a better team. Then he moves to Calgary, plays with Iginla and the magic never materializes.

    Rick Nash, I believe is the former. The ultra-talented player that if he could play with a great playmaking centre and have some support elsewhere, would really dominate in the league.

    The problem is, Nash isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s locked up and seems to like it in Columbus. Also, the Jackets stand to gain almost nothing if they trade him at this point in his career. If they trade him they could get a top 2 D-man, some prospects, a couple good forwards, a first round pick or a combination of any of those things. Problem is, of course, the point of getting prospects and picks for a player like Nash is that hopefully one day they turn into a Rick Nash type of player. Trading Nash likely won’t put them any further ahead.

    To me, the Jackets need to become more aggressive buyers. Ship out some prospects or picks and try to land a solid couple of linemates to play with Nash (or to provide secondary scoring).

    As many comments have mentioned, CBJ isn’t really that far away from having a pretty strong team. A few good signings and a bit of luck and they could be a serious playoff threat.

    As for Columbus and other newer markets. I think teams need a lot of history to be of national interest. They need the history of winning, great players, and they need to be fairly good in recent memory. This is why Pittsburgh, Philly, Detroit and Boston have a larger fan base. Fans remember watching Mario, or Lindros, Yzerman or Bourque growing up and can identify with those teams. On the other hand, the Islanders were great in the early 80s, but their recent history isn’t all that stellar. Many hockey fans today weren’t alive for the Islanders dynasty and consequently they aren’t of national interest today.

    Anyway, nice defence of your comments, JB. I too wish Nash played on another team, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the Blue Jackets. I’d much rather see them win the cup than Carolina or Nashville or Atlanta.

  16. Mass relocation of star players to big markets and top teams is what’s killing the NBA right now.

    So, no. I’d prefer it if Rick Nash would stay in Columbus. A viable alternative would be Columbus GM Scott Howson getting his head out of his ass and surrounding Nash with some talent so that Nash can be the headliner for a Columbus team that makes some noise rather than having to go somewhere else.

  17. jtbourne says:

    Good points, all. Derek, fair enough, but the team is still 20th (19th?) in spending and has like, 8 shmill free. You don’t think he’d have a better chance at a Cup if that money was spent, as it is by nearly half the league? I’m not bagging on Columbus man, I have no problem with how they go about their business. I’m just saying dude would be better off in a different situation, as would dozens of players around the league. That’s tough to argue.

  18. dasnut says:

    I completely understand your point, don’t agree with all of them, but understand the demand for the need for Nash to be seen nationally.

    The biggest problem with your comment is where you are pointing the finger. Your argument can be used for a good handful of stars on many NHL small market teams. Your blame for this poor promotion of the players in this league should be focused solely on the NHL itself. This league cannot thrive with their current plans of promoting this great sport. The NFL, NBA and MLB promote their sport so well in the US, why can’t the NHL do the same? That is the real travesty in all of this.

  19. Derek says:

    Justin: Of course if you put him on Vancouver playing with the Sedin’s he’d be up there with Ovi and Crosby. However, it is really easy to say they should spend that money without looking at where they could spend it, who was available, and the amount of money it would take to get those players to Columbus. They have done what you are suggesting in the past and it has failed miserably. So they switched it up and are trying it a different way. Fact is, you can’t win in a capped league with a team full of overpaid players.

  20. UsedForGlue says:

    DP nailed this one – you were actually too nice in your comments about the organization. Dougie Mac’s reign of terror was truly legendary. In the two drafts that were insanely loaded, we turned two top 10 picks into Gilbert Brule and Nik Zherdev. I won’t even mention all the defensemen (Burns, Weber…) and wingers we missed out on, but those two drafts alone could have netted any one of Getzlaf, Carter, Richards, or Kopitar to be Nash’s center.

    Aside from the draft bungles, for years the Jackets consistently played with sub-NHL talent on the ice. You don’t see the likes of Ole-Kristian Tolefsson, Jiri Novotny, Mark Hartigan, Aaron Rome, Clay Wilson, Dan Fritsche, etc. cracking other NHL rosters for very long.

    There could have been Kovalchuk style drama with Nash but he chose not to string out the CBJ over the course of a season, and committed to a long term, team friendly deal (no question he could have gotten more somewhere else) before his contract was up. That kind of loyalty has really endeared him to fans which is why myself and others jump on the defensive when we see any comment that has anything to do with the prospect of him moving.

    I totally agree with you as far as wishing Nash were a more prominent name out there. You almost never hear Nash’s name come up on TV or in articles about the NHL’s best, and players like Alex Semin, Phil Kessel, Claude Giroux, seem to be in the news every day.

    During the Olympics, I remember hearing Bill Simmons talk in his podcast and say something to the effect of “who was that huge Nash guy who was out there?” and it just struck me how people in sports media have no idea how good he is, or in some cases who he is. You’re right, Nash is one guy who you can imagine absolutely thriving in one of the places that is built to win now. I can only imagine the damage he could inflict playing alongside Thorton on a team like San Jose.

    I admire the job Howson has done since taking over. While part of me wants them to use their prospects, picks, and cap flexibility to try and land a Brad Richards or Jason Spezza, I’m willing to give Howson at least another year or two to try and build from within. It sucks it took so long for the organization to get competent management, but now that we have, hopefully we keep improving and in a couple years we’ll be seeing commercials on NBC promoting “Nash and the Blue Jackets versus Crosby and the Pens on Hockey day in America” and other stuff like that to raise his profile.

  21. AiH says:

    And the award for a soul crushing jinx goes to… Justin Bourne!

    “Minnesota will get their Cup one day”

  22. minnesotagirl71 says:

    “I’m just saying dude would be better off in a different situation, as would dozens of players around the league. That’s tough to argue.”

    What does it mean to be better off? I’m assuming he is making a lot of money, playing a game that he loves, in a community that adores him. Maybe some guys like to be the big fish in the small pond….

    Is the ultimate goal of every hockey player to win the Cup? Are they all that competitive? Do ANY of them play because they love the game and get paid millions to do what they love and are presumably pretty damn good at? Could any of them be happy with a long, successful career that doesn’t include winning a Cup?

    I’m not from a hockey family and I didn’t date hockey players. I seriously ask these questions, because I don’t know the answers. I read Raising Stanley and it was hard for me to comprehend that kind of single minded determination…their whole life and career focused on one goal.

  23. Mig says:

    Full and fair disclosure; I am a Pittsburgh native that has lived in Columbus for years and was thrilled when Columbus finally got its own team. Columbus, and Ohio in general, is a solid hockey market with some of the best t.v. ratings in the US for Olympic Hockey etc. However, many of us have been fans of Detroit or Pittsburgh for decades before the Jackets came around. Once this generation of kids grows up watching and attending Jackets games instead of the Pens and Wings…look out.

  24. Amy says:

    “Maybe some guys like to be the big fish in the small pond….” I think you’re partly right. Most CBJ players have said that they love being in Columbus because they CAN get out and walk in public without being mauled. We see them in the grocery store, at sporting events, school, restaurants, etc. Their kids go to school with our kids. As someone else mentioned, it was Nash who asked for the big contract, one year over what the CBJ offered. That should tell you something right there. He is a down-to-earth, quiet guy and obviously one who doesn’t need or care about the limelight.

  25. hills says:

    Full disclosure- CBJ fan, Columbus native. I’ll admit, I felt some blind rage when I read the ‘drowning’ tweet. While I vaguely get the idea (I’ve had similar thoughts about talented area high school FB players who don’t commit to Ohio State, why pass over buckets of tradition and a team that is a legitimate title contender every year?), I agree with the comments that his choice probably isn’t 100% about the cup. He’s become the defining player on a team that’s just coming into it’s own (ten years is a milestone, believe me). As a lifelong Columbus resident, this team has altered the city in ways I never could have pictured, and Nash has been a huge part of that, especially since the original majority owner’s death (who, in his own right, may have altered Columbus over the past 15 years or so more than any other single person). I know that sounds overly grandiose, but in retrospect it’s hard to deny. If Nash had somehow been drafted by the Leafs or another original six team, then maybe he would continue to be a standout cog in that system. Instead, he is the franchise player for a team that is just starting out, and he holds any number of firsts and records for the team. He hasn’t won a playoff game, let alone a cup, and he’s already made history.

    In addition, I feel like pointing out that if people aren’t watching Rick Nash, then they definitely aren’t watching Steve Mason (inconsistent, I know, but these last 15 games or so have felt like his rookie year *knock on wood*) or RJ Umberger (injured now, but I’m not sure I have ever seen a player with as much drive) at their best. And the talent coming up from the minors hasn’t been too shabby either.

    Finally, and I hesitate to mention this because it sounds so whiney, but I can’t help but wonder if this argument would be the same if Columbus had somehow been worked into the East. When more than half your games are outside the Eastern Time Zone, it’s not easy to garner national media attention unless you’re suffering through some sort of crisis or are an original 6 or Canadian team. But if the CBJ can continue to fly under the league’s & public’s radars while inching up those standings, I’ll be pretty okay with it. It’s probably been Nash’s plan all along, right?

  26. Richie says:

    Being somewhat detached being on the other side of the Atlantic, the TV position (which teams NBC/Vs push) isn’t an issue. Although I’m sure Bettman would love to see an orderly rotation of Orignal Six, Pittsburgh, Washington & Rangers winning the Stanley Cup each year thankfully it doesn’t play out like that and Carolina’s the most recent example. As for Nash, all the talent that makes you want him on a “bigger” team (in terms of media exposure) is exactly why the guy has the right to play where he likes.

    As many people have already pointed out, maybe Nash actually likes Columbus. You can still have your opinion that you’d like to see him on a stacked team but I think the issue here isn’t Nash, it’s the NHL & it’s media partners insisting on only promoting 5 or 10 of the 30 teams on offer.

  27. Richie says:

    That Colombus doesn’t get national exposure isn’t Nash’s fault, his absence just makes you aware of it.

  28. MattyJ says:

    Question to CBJ fans: How long is a team allowed to keep the ‘expansion’ moniker? How long before a team is no longer considered ‘new’? The ‘expansion’ Flyers won their first cup when they were six years old. Drop the ‘we’re new’ attempt at sympathy and trade Nash to LA already! BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

  29. DavesNotHere says:

    Hey JB, that’s why u got a fantasy hockey team! Rick Nash is readily identifiable to the people of Central Ohio, someone who quietly goes about their business and without the need for outside appproval. Plus, it’s nice to have something many others desire. For those of you not from this area, the number of rinks that have been built, the exploding numbers of kids in hockey and the addition of HS hockey is evidence that the sport we all love is being ‘grown’ here and will continue to thrive as long as the Jackets remain relevent. I believe that having Nasher here is one of those driving forces. So covet they neighbors Captain all you like MF-ers. You ain’t gettin’ him!

  30. liverning says:

    Tampa Bay played Detroit in Tampa recently with the stands awash in red. Its such a strange phenomenon when playing an original 6 team, it was practically a home game for Detroit… The 6-2 hiding didn’t feel so good either…

    Tampa might be a bit further along than Nashville or Columbus, for national exposure, but all the expansion teams have to fight for their moment in the sun… I find that away from Tampa my cycloptic view has difficulty discerning which team Nash (or Shea Weber) plays on… It takes me a second or two… And as a hockey fan thats my bad… I get too much Crosby shoved down my pallete and not enough Nash/Weber. Sadly, I don’t think that gonna change any time soon.

    I hope Nash can bring a cup to Ohio eventually. Nothing would please me more than to see him succeed in a
    non-traditional NHL (but definitely a hockey) market… Just don’t beat the Bolts to do it…

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