The dust is starting to settle after the Columbus Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets collaborated on what was the biggest trade of 2021 so far. We are only 26 days into the New Year, but the magnitude of this transaction could hold up for the entire year and for that reason alone there’s drama attached to it. But, the drama that dropped on Monday has less to do with the future and more to do with the past.
It was no secret that the three players involved – Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic and Pierre-Luc Dubois – wanted out of Winnipeg and Columbus, respectively. The irony of the transaction is that all three players wanted to get out of what they considered a small NHL market only to be traded to a similarly sized community and franchise.
In the days since the trade, we have heard from nearly every party about the reasons or rationale for the trade. While many fans will have a slightly different take on what actually happened, there is a common thread within each player’s situation — it was time to move on.
That is perhaps why the most recent comments from Blue Jackets GM, Jarmo Kekäläinen, were interesting – to say the least. Yesterday, the Score NHL released an article by Brandon Maron (see first tweet above) entitled “Kekäläinen wishes Dubois would ‘tell the truth’ about trade request.”
That is enough to get any fans attention, but needless to say there is still some confusion as to why Dubois wanted out.
The crux of the issue is that Kekäläinen believes the contract negotiations had nothing to do with Dubois’ desire to leave Columbus. The GM said that it took all of 10 minutes to get a deal done, the team offered multiple types of contracts and things went smoothly. Of course, the two sides finally agreed on a two-year deal worth an AAV of $5 million in December.
As fans, we can only speculate which side — Kekalainen or Dubois is reading what took place all wrong — but the 22-year-old Ste-Agathe-des-Monts native and now-former Blue Jackets center has implied that something did not sit right with him during the negotiations.
Kekäläinen disagrees with that appraisal and genuinely sounds as though he just wants an explanation – which he, nor any former Columbus teammates have at this stage. After all, the Blue Jackets made this young man their 3rd-overall pick just five short years ago. If it was not something revealed in the contract negotiations, then what?
Lost in Translation
There are a couple of factors to consider in this case. Firstly, while Kekäläinen maintains that the contract negotiations were not to blame it might be as simple as experience. As a GM, this is business as usual. For a 22-year-old that has always been the star wherever he has played, the negotiations could have revealed parts of his game he had not considered as a weakness. Or simpler yet, this was his first ever real contract negotiation.
Perhaps the business did become personal for the 22-year-old throughout contract talks.
That said, Kekäläinen is a professional. An individual does not become the first European GM in the NHL without having a vast number of strengths. In this case, he likely wants to know where he or the team went wrong so they can avoid this situation with other top prospects. That is more than fair, and as such it will be interesting to see if Dubois ever cops to what the real deal is, or was.
Many folks might say that Dubois does not owe an explanation, but I doubt he will hurt anyone’s feelings if he just tells it as it is. The Blue Jackets deserve at least that.
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