Why Do The Blue Jackets Have a Problem Retaining Their Stars?

By Chris Pennington on June 20, 2018 at 5:49 pm
Artemi Panarin
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We can tell ourselves as much as we want that this is a negotiation strategy – but that doesn’t really get to the heart of the issue that's faced the Blue Jackets since their inauguration. 

When it was reported Tuesday afternoon that Blue Jackets star forward Artemi Panarin was unwilling to discuss a contract extension “at this time,” many believed that it was a power move on his end to possibly attain a bigger contract.

While Panarin would obviously want his due pay, here are two points that are not fully addressed with this theory:

  1. According to The Athletic's Aaron Portzline, before any contract discussion had even begun to happen between Panarin and the team, it was announced that he did not want to talk about an extension.
  2. Panarin had one of the best offensive seasons in Blue Jackets history in his first year with the club. He is likely aware that ownership would pay out the wazoo to keep him. After a season like this, anywhere he goes would pay him well.

So, let’s face it. It may not be *just* a money issue.

It may be a ‘Where do I really want to play for the next eight years?’ issue.

A familiar sight for Blue Jackets fans, is it not?

Rick Nash. Jeff Carter. Marian Gaborik. Which begs the question...

Why has it seemed like Columbus has had such a difficult time keeping their best players on the team long-term?

This doesn’t usually happen with every team and/or star player. Sidney Crosby has never taken public actions to get out of Pittsburgh. Same with Ovechkin and Washington. Kane and Chicago. Stamkos and Tampa Bay. The list goes on.

What does it boil down to? Winning.

It only took the Vegas Golden Knights four games to officially have more playoff series wins than the Blue Jackets. It took them just another round to have twice as many. And so on.

Salt doesn’t need to be rubbed in the wound regarding the Blue Jackets playoff hurt, but it does need to be addressed. We remember the sweep to Detroit in ’09. The exciting almost-comeback in 2014 that led to two straight years of missing the postseason. The shorter-than-expected five-game loss in 2017, and of course, the 2-0 series lead blowing of 2018.

As talented as the Blue Jackets are right now, more than they've ever been, their history doesn’t exactly paint the picture of the kind of growth and consistency that most NHL stars want to be a part of, yet. 

Did Nash and Carter amongst others, and now Panarin, have the opportunity to be the face of the franchise, and make some serious money? Absolutely. And Nash did, signing an eight-year mega contract with the Blue Jackets only to request a trade a few years later.

But when they have to work as hard as they did for no real signs of success – how long did it take for them to seek different options?

For Nash, nine years. God bless him.

For Carter, 10 seconds.

And for Panarin, let's hope we're not witnessing the start.

Winning and money keeps stars around. The money will be there. That's all that can really be promised to Panarin as of now.

Bottom line: If the Blue Jackets don’t deal him, an early exit in the 2019 playoffs for Columbus could mean an early exit for Panarin.

Here’s to a deep run next spring.

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