2013 NHL PREVIEW: CENTRAL DIVISION

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Finally, after months and months of everyone involved being morons, causing 113 days, 625 games, and the biggest outdoor hockey game in history to be cancelled, hockey fans can finally say “Game On!”  The NHL has a new 10-year labor agreement, and is set to start the shortened, 48 game 2013 season on Saturday, January 19.  Find out what you need to know about every team in the NHL for the upcoming season, this time featuring the Central Division.  Continue after the jump to find out where your team will finish.

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Columbus trading Rick Nash: it’s complicated!

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It’s expected that the Columbus Blue Jackets will trade their only true All-Star player and face of the franchise Rick Nash on or before the upcoming NHL Entry Draft on June 22nd.  Rumored trade discussions and speculated trading partners have been flying almost as quickly as trying to keep the hottest of DVDs on a Blockbuster ™store shelf.

And while some pundits and local observers believe this long-speculated trade of Nash is a forgone conclusion and will go down before the draft, I believe that doing so is a lot more complicated than that and I’ll explain why.

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‘Occupy’ Movement Has Carried Over To Columbus Blue Jackets Fans

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It is said that if you push a person so far, they will eventually push back – that believe has now become reality for Columbus Blue Jackets fans.

The Blue Jackets easily occupy the 30th position in the National Hockey League (NHL), posting a horrid record of 13-30-6.  Were the Blue Jackets a rebuilding team with a limited team payroll that would be understandable.  However, Blue Jackets ownership ‘opened up the wallets’ to the tune of $64.3 million which was the 5th highest payroll at the beginning of the regular season and 9th, currently.

Last week, an ownership meeting was held with all ownership groups to include Nationwide Insurance who now have 30% ownership stake in the Blue Jackets. During the meetings, a topic of discussion was on Blue Jackets management’s plan to fix the deep ills that have made the Blue Jackets a national embarrassment.

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Why the Columbus Blue Jackets have to ‘Blow it up’

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The Columbus Blue Jackets currently sit at an abysmal 2-11-1 which not only represents the NHL’s fewest point totals, but with 14 games already played, easily represents its worst record.  The Blue Jackets have been mercilessly pounded during its last two games, 4-1 by the Toronto Maple Leafs and 9-2 by the Philadelphia Flyers, last night.

Calls to fire the Blue Jackets General Manager (GM) Scott Howson, their head coach Scott Arniel have been mounting, particularly as their payroll is the 5th highest in the NHL, according to Capgeek.com.  But the calls to fire team President Mike Priest have been the most prevalent during the last several days and with good reason.

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Blue Jackets to Have New GM and Coach in Place by Monday?

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It’s being reported by multiple NHL sources, that Columbus Blue Jackets team President Mike Priest has contacted Ken Hitchcock about returning to coach the Jackets. Priest has also contacted former Calgary Flames General Manager (GM) Craig Button about assuming the reigns as the Blue Jackets GM.

For a team that’s off to a woeful 1-9-1 record, particularly ironic when you consider they have the NHL’s 4th highest payroll (Let’s not forget they have the NHL’s 4th worst home attendance mark), something has to be done and done quickly.

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Too Soon For Columbus Blue Jackets to Push the Panic Button?

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Coming off of another disappointing season, their second season of not making the Stanley Cup playoffs after making it for the first time in their history (2008-2009 season), Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager (GM) Scott Howson realized that the recurring themes of patience, building from within, the status quo and sub-mediocrity had worn completely thin with their fan base.

The fan base exhibited their distain by staying away in droves, last season, with a 2,000 plus drop in overall attendance and the team experienced their largest financial losses in their brief history of over $25 million. The time for action and change was now.

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A Plan for Complete Columbus Blue Jackets Overhaul

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In my previous article, I expressed my skepticism over whether a much-needed overhaul of the Columbus Blue Jackets would take place:

However, if Blue Jackets On-Ice personnel–Scott Howson and his staff–were truly ardent and sincere in acknowledging this dire need to change the landscape and foundation of this organization seemingly and perennially stuck in limbo , I wouldn’t have this skepticism:

They need to make sweeping changes to the organization.

As has been said, “If you want big rewards, you have to take big risks”.

The current landscape of the organization still does not possess the following:

By Ed Cmar

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