You’ve had a day to sleep on it, but do you feel any more rational?

February 27, 2008

That’s a question to you, Columbus Joe/Jane Hockeyfan.  I had little issue with yesterday’s dealings, so I’m just as fine today as I was yesterday.  But I’m wondering how many of you really won’t watch tonight or think this season is now wasted (you know ’cause it wasn’t already done three weeks ago).

Foote to Colorado for conditional pick (or picks)

The facts: Blue Jacket captain Adam Foote was sent to Colorado yesterday.  In return, the Jackets will receive one or two picks.  If the Avs make the playoffs this year, we get their 2008 first round pick.  If not, we get their 2009 first round pick.  If Foote signs with Colorado (extension or in free agency), we also get a fourth round pick in 2009.

Money talks (financial analysis): The Blue Jackets are off the hook for the remaining portion of Foote’s 2007-08 salary, which roughly works out to $1,008,556.  #52 was to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, so the money saved only applies to rest of this season.  The $4.6 million we won’t be paying him next year would have been available even without the trade, so I’m not buying the “now we have that money to spend in free agency this summer” line.  The money was going to be there anyway, whether GM Scott Howson chose to spend it on Foote or someone else is all hypothetical at this point.

Bullshit walks (Drew’s analysis):  Based on the vibes we’d been fed from the Dispatch and Puck Rakers up through the day or two before the deadline, signing Foote to an extension seemed all but a done deal.  Any day now, was the line.  The rumblings that have come out in the time since the trade (and I’m not speaking for the validity of these comments, just what I’ve heard from MSM sources) are that Foote wanted to go back to Colorado.  He wouldn’t budge on his salary number, just as Howson wouldn’t budge on his, and effectively forced a trade “back home”. 

A year ago, I would have been happy to get anything for Adam Foote.  I believed that he was not performing up to par.  This year, I think he has been a nice asset to have on the blueline and I am sorry to see him go as I don’t believe we have another defenseman in the organization right now who can fill his shoes.  That said, the return we received from Colorado is quite nice.  A first-rounder for a 36-year old defenseman, and maybe another pick as well?  The Dispatch guys had it right when they said that Adam Foote is probably more valuable to the Jackets than any other team in the NHL, in my opinion.  A year ago, Jackets fans were up in arms about receiving a sixth round pick for Anson Carter, and now they’re pissed about getting a first (and maybe fourth) for Adam Foote.  Jackets fans, it’s human nature to overrate players you like or that are on your team.  This is a good return, I truly believe this.  Do you think we should have asked for Paul Stastny?  Wojtek Wolski?  Not going to happen.  I know there are other related questions, and I’ll get to those in a bit.  On to the other move of the day.

Fedorov to Washington for defenseman Theo Ruth

The facts: Center Sergei Fedorov was sent to Washington in return for defenseman Theo Ruth, the Caps’ second round pick in the most recent draft.  Ruth currently skates for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Money talks: The Blue Jackets are off the hook for the remaining portion of Fedorov’s 2007-08 salary, which roughly works out to $1,333,048.  Again, this budget reduction only applies to the rest of this season.

Bullshit walks: My suspicion is that Fedorov would not be a Blue Jacket in 2008-09.  At least, if I were the GM I likely wouldn’t have signed him for much more than $1.5-2 million if even that.  I do not know much (okay, anything) about this Ruth kid, but I will say that getting something is better than what we would see when #91 walked at the end of the season.

I believe the Jackets were a better team with Fedorov in the lineup, but it was more an intangible thing than anything else.  Perhaps he survived more on his legacy than his current actions.  However you slice it, though, paying that much money for a marginally interested guy who’d missed 15 games due to injury this year, and has produced 28 only points in 49 games was a cement block of a contract.  Now… it’s gone.

Odds and Ends: My answers/responses to the questions/comments you’re not asking/making (at least not to me)

Comment: (Variations on a theme)  These trades mean no playoffs for the Jackets.

Response:  Actually, the season was killed in this 13 game stretch following the All Star break.  Giving up 4 or more goals six times, being outscored 27-39, and taking a whopping 11 of 26 possible points.  To reach the 95-point mark (roughly where the 8th place team in the West has been the last few years), the Jackets could only afford four losses in their remaining 18 games.  14-4.  13-2-2.  With or without Foote, Fedorov, or even Brad Richards… this is not going to happen. 

Impossible?  No.

Likely?  No.

Comment:  But we’re only five points out of eighth… why sell?  We’re still in it.

Response:  You’re not listening.  We’re only five points out, but we’d also need to leap three teams to make it.

Comment:  Three wins and that’s all we’d need.

Response: (wow, this is a tough sell, huh)  If every team we need to pass loses their next three games in regulation, it could happen, yes.  As I said, it’s not impossible.  We’ll likely not be “mathematically eliminated” from the post season for at least another 25-30 days.  But when you see where we are and where we need to be, it’s already done.

Comment:  But Washington is only five points out of the race in the East, and they were buye…

Response:  Listen, I’m trying to save you from yourself.  Just stop.  As a fan, you should be enjoying the most successful season in Blue Jacket history.  Instead, you (Joe/Jane Fan) are complaining that we’re not going to win the President’s Trophy.  Remember that post I had a while back about franchises that had to wait to make the post season?  Be glad you’re not the Saints.  We are not (likely) going to make the playoffs this year, but we’re poised for a run of decent-to-great years.  I’m going to enjoy them when they’re here, and not sit and mope because Howson is still having to work with what is mostly ex-CGMDM’s team.

Comment: (I heard this one multiple times from Speilman and Herbstreit on the radio last night)  Now that the Jackets have given up on the playoffs (see comments/responses above), they have to suffer through the shame of being the only hockey franchise never to make the post season.

Response: Who cares?!?  We’re finishing our seventh year, and we will get there.  Not likely this year, and maybe not next year, but we will get there.  If it really hurts your feelings as a fan when this is mentioned, get a life.  I guess I have to keep in mind that a lot of these people who “feel the shame” are also Buckeye fans who are not satisfied with making the BCS title game two years in a row (yeah, you didn’t win either time, but I’m not greedy).  Seriously… get over it.

Comment: I heard that we could’ve gotten X pick/player/whatever for Fedorov/Foote/Vyborny/whoever.  Why didn’t we make this deal?

Response:  As much fun as playing armchair GM is, it’s worth remembering two things.  One, it’s not as easy as it looks.  Two, I “heard” a lot of stuff yesterday, too.  Until things are signed, sealed, and delivered… they’re just rumors.  Pissed we didn’t get Marleau/Jokinen/Hossa?  It’s likely we’ll never know how close we came to any of these deals, if they were even discussed.

In summary

Yeah, I’m a little touchy after yesterday.  Not because the Jackets didn’t make a big splash, but because the media is painting the Jackets as a big loser in the trade deadline and a select number of fans are making it sound like all Blue Jacket fans are shallow and ignorant.  To the media: we didn’t land Richards, but we did purge over $2 million in salary commitment while adding a first round pick (at a bare minimum).  For a franchise that is not rolling in the dough, this is a big deal.  To the “fans”: losing the Richards Sweepstakes was tough, but the other moves will not make a difference in our playoff chances, which rested between slim and none regardless of what happened before 3 PM yesterday.

I leave you with three words: Fourteen and four.  Okay… three more: not gonna happen.  But I’ll still watch and cheer.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

– Drew



  1. Great analysis, Drew. It’s nice to read / hear an opinion that is informed about the game of hockey.

    One more thing that drives me crazy is Todd Jones’ statement that Howson had to get the Richards deal done, even if that meant overpaying. I hate to inform Todd, but with my limited resources I read that Tampa wouldn’t do the deal without an NHL goaltender (read: Leclaire). As much as I would have liked to had Richards, Pascal is our MVP this year and moving him would be insane.

  2. Jason, thanks for the kind comments, and for stopping by.

    I’d heard the same thing (that Tampa wanted Leclaire). Richards would be great to have alongside Nash, but not at the cost of the guy who will be between the pipes for the forseeable future.

    I hadn’t seen the Jones blog, but I just read it and needless to say I’m not on the same page as he is. Mortgage the future (and maybe the present) on the hopes you can go 14-4? No thanks.

  3. Agree with what you have to say here, Drew. I put similar thoughts up at my place last night.

    I am a little disappointed that, since the decision was made to purge the roster, that several other UFAs weren’t moved for assets. Of course, it’s hard to say without being there how much interest (if any) there was in Vyborny, Peca, Hainsey, et al. But I’m all about getting something for guys who are going to walk. Then again, I’m also not privy to whether all of these guys are sure to leave in the summer…

    The national media seems fairly positive about Columbus’ moves. Phil Esposito was raving about Colorado overpaying for Foote last night on XM. Most of the “big loser” talk I’ve seen has been local.

  4. I saw your thoughts after I wrote mine. Good stuff, as usual, Sarah.

    I didn’t get to my feelings on the rest of the pending UFA’s, but I was wearing out the refresh button on my web browser yesterday afternoon waiting to find out where Vyborny was going. Nothing happened. It makes me feel the slightest big guilty that I was hoping for more carnage yesterday. I have to imagine that something could have been had for a few of those dudes. But you’re right, maybe they’re coming back.

    And I didn’t mention that my attacks on calling the Jackets losers were directed to the local media. Good call. I just can’t stand that most of the time nobody around here pays attention to the Jackets (1460, 103.9, etc), but when they do they make everyone believe they’re the biggest hockey fans in the world. Then I have people coming up to me at work spewing their thoughts (which are actually Speilman or Herbie’s) and I just want to strangle the local media.

    Okay, time for my BP meds. Keep up the great work, Sarah!

  5. […] So Howson frees up a couple of million this year, some fans go nuts, and some fans are cautiously optimistic. […]

  6. […] the Jackets out of the postseason (again), the question becomes: What if GM Scott Howson had been a buyer rather than a seller at the deadline? Or, better yet: What would their goal totals have been had the team won the Brad Richards […]

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