There’s a difference between asking a player to adhere to his contract and putting that same player on the trade block. It’s a simple matter of semantics that has been seemingly lost since Aaron Portzline reported that the Columbus Blue Jackets are shopping James Wisniewski last night, citing two different nameless sources.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) February 24, 2015
This set off a rash of rumors and wonderings, as fans of playoff teams started to wonder what it would take to bring the 31-year-old to their squad. It also became known that Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen asked Wisniewski for his list of 10 teams he wouldn’t accept a trade to last week.
From Portzline’s post for The Columbus Dispatch:
The Blue Jackets have asked Wisniewski to provide them, per his contract, a 10-team list — the clubs to which he would NOT approve a trade — only twice: first on July 1, 2013, and again last Monday.
The fact that Wisniewski was scratched on February 22 against the New York Rangers only put more fuel on the fire, despite the fact that head coach Todd Richards made it clear that the move was because the defender hadn’t been good enough recently.
— Rick Gethin (@rickgethin) February 23, 2015
Portzline’s angle with the situation from the get go blurred the line between speculation and reality, so it’s not too shocking that fans of 29 other teams believe that Wisniewski is available at this point.
This is the kind of thing that happens leading up to the trade deadline—hey, it’s tough to sell funny papers these days—but it’s important to separate fact from a storyline that will get some clicks.
What we know and what’s being conjectured doesn’t quite add up. Portzline didn’t mention that the Blue Jackets had already asked Wisniewski for his 10-team list once in the past until this morning. By then the ball was already rolling on this thing.
Is there a little smoke? Sure, but the math on this isn’t as simple as it’s being made out to be.
Wisniewski being asked for 10-team list by #CBJ is somewhat standard for players with this type of contract.
— Rick Gethin (@rickgethin) February 24, 2015
This is Wisniewski’s fourth season in Columbus, and his deal was full no-movement through the first two seasons. Since then, the Blue Jackets have asked him for his 10-team list twice… or once a season (on average?) since that stipulation kicked in on his contract.
So why do we automatically assume that the Blue Jackets have put him “on the block?” For Kekalainen this could easily be a case of due diligence. With the trade deadline looming, who knows what kinds of calls have been coming into Columbus. General managers are constantly in contact with each other, and we could also assume (speculate) that Kekalainen wants to be ready in case the “if the price is right” deal comes down the pipe.
Put yourself in his shoes. It’s 15 minutes before the trade deadline and the Edmonton Oilers come knocking with Jordan Eberle or something ridiculous like that. Do you want to run the risk of not being able to iron things out in time?
Maybe it sounds silly, but it’s just as plausible as the other extreme—which is what we’re dealing in here. Logic doesn’t move a lot of units, but in this case it seems likely that the truth is somewhere between he’s being shopped! and he’s going to retire in Ohio.
From a management standpoint, it seems like best practice to simply have all your options open to you as a deadline approaches.
This isn’t a case of a player needing to be moved out of town. We’re still only a few weeks out from the Evander Kane situation, so maybe that’s still on people’s minds. Wisniewski played terribly against the Montreal Canadiens on February 21, so Richards benched him a night later.
For a team that isn’t in playoff contention, it’s not that shocking of a move. Why can’t a coach scratch a guy once without folks jumping from Point A to Point D? Coincidentally the news “broke” a day later that the Blue Jackets had asked Wisniewski for his 10-team list a week prior to the benching. But now all of a sudden he’s on the trading block? Just Google James Wisniewski right now, and you’ll see all the evidence right in front of you.
The order of events is imperative in this case, though why should we let things like that stand between us and a narrative?