Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How To Trade A Popular Player Columbus Style

The Columbus Blue Jackets have never made the playoffs in their history. It doesn't look like this year will be any different. They currently sit in 12th place in the West Conference six points out of the last playoff berth. However, this will likely be the best season in franchise history. They have fourteen games left to get four points which will give them 74 points, tying them with 2005/06 when they had their best point total to date. The fans in Columbus desperately want to make playoffs for the first time and it was a bitter pill for them to swallow when GM Scott Howson made the correct move to be a seller at the trade deadline.

Columbus traded away free agent to be Adam Foote, who is the team captain to the Colorado Avalanche. In return, they got a first round draft pick (plus a potential fourth round pick should Foote resign in Colorado). This is a very good return for a free agent to be, but it was not a popular move in Columbus because it means that likely they will go another season (at least) without making the playoffs.

I believe the situation in Columbus was that they first tried to acquire a meaningful player who is signed beyond the end of this season who might help them to make playoffs this year and if that failed would be around for future seasons. They were rumored as a frontrunner in the sweepstakes to trade for Brad Richards from the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, that did not happen. Richards was traded to the Dallas Stars. After Richards was gone, Howson decided it was best to sell his future free agents because he was not going to acquire any difference maker who is signed beyond this season. That was when he traded Adam Foote to Colorado and Sergei Fedorov to the Washington Capitals for the rather low return of Ted Ruth (Washington's 2007 2nd round pick who only has three points so far on defence in his freshman season at Notre Dame).

Adam Foote had a no trade clause but after failed negotiations with the Blue Jackets (Foote was willing to accept a two year contract at $4 million per year - a pay cut since he currently makes $4.6 million per year), he indicated he would be willing to accept a deal to Colorado (the franchise where he began his NHL career). Given the offer of a first round draft choice for Foote, Howson was happy to make the deal.

This did not go over well with Columbus fans, who believed (likely unrealistically) that without this deal the Blue Jackets were going to make the playoffs. The Columbus Dispatch ran a story that unnamed sources claim Foote had threatened to be "a bad teammate, a bad captain and a bad player" if he wasn't traded to Colorado. This story is unlikely. It has been denied by Adam Foote. It has been denied by TSN's Bob McKenzie. The biggest reason it is unlikely is because, if true, Howson had no choice but to move Foote to Colorado and Colorado overpaying with a first round draft pick in that scenario is not believable. This follows a time honored NHL tradition when trading a popular player you attack his character to convince the fans it was a good move.

The Columbus Blue Jackets of 2007/08 are the best Blue Jackets team ever. Nevertheless, they are not good enough to make the playoffs. Trading away a free agent to be Adam Foote for a first round draft pick is a good hockey move. The fans did not accept the move because they were still hoping for playoffs. Somebody planted a story to attack Foote's character to try to calm them down. The idea is to make Foote the villain and not the Blue Jackets organization. The problem is the story planted is unlikely and looks like an obvious hack job.

I guess you just have to ask yourself..."Who has the better sources?" Bob MacKenzie or the beat writers for the CBJ that have broken every good/bad story from the team this year. Bob MacKenzie's article did no favors for Foote, as it basically made Foote sound like an arrogant prick. Did bob refute Portzline, Arace and Oller's? He sure made an attempt with unnamed sources. Sound familiar? Are we supposed to believe everything that we hear from BM? Or are we supposed to say that Scott Howson is a liar here, becuase that is the only reasonable explanation (I cant imagine Arace and company getting other sources to call out Foote like this...can you?). Dont blame the writers. They didnt make up the story out of thin air...nor would they simply put this up without some sources ("unnamed," but if he named them...they would never give the writer a scoop again...that is how journalism works, right?)

The bigger question is how one of the fastest non-commericial jets was sitting in Columbus the night before the deadline that was rented by the Avalanche (I am aware that Net-Jets is in Columbus, but this is not a stock model jet from the NetJet fleet. Hence, why it was flown in to Columbus the NIGHT BEFORE THE DEADLINE). Even though the reputable Adam Foote was still saying (or mouth-breathing) so everyone could hear him that the he wanted to stay in Columbus...and how he couldnt believe it when he was actually traded. Do I think that everything simply fits together into a nice little package to make Foote look like an asshole? No...too many factors at play here, but something sure does stink about it...whether you are an Adam Foote fan or not...
I don't pretend to know why a plane was in Columbus but its quite logical to say that if (as you point out) Net-Jets is in Columbus, that is a likely explanation.

So what if the plane allegedly wasn't a standard Net-Jets plane. I am sure they have a fleet of planes and some are different from others. And they gotta be somewhere so why cant they be in Columbus without it being a big conspiracy?

Now the question to the conspiracy theorists is that if Adam Foote needed to be traded and Colorado was the only place he would allow it, doesn't Colorado call all the shots? Why did they give up a first round pick for Foote? that's a lot to give up isn't it? They could lowball the Blue Jackets and still get Foote - so why didn't they? Could it be because the story didn't happen that way?
Do you think that Adam Foote is worth a 1st and a 4th round pick?

I sure dont, which leads me to believe that there may have been some tampering with Foote and Colorado all along. If this was the case, Columbus was in a position to hold this over their heads as a bargaining chip. Like I said, I dont believe all of it, but there is a lot of things with this situation that seems more than fishy. I am sure that here is a happy-medium on the real 'truth' from both sides, but I doubt that we will ever know that...
If its tampering, Columbus can go out and accuse Colorado of it now. A first round draft pick changes nothing.

There is no big conspiracy here. Even when they are fun to imagine.
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