R.J. Umberger is gone. His bags are packed and he’s saying goodbye to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team he’s suited up for since 2008. (Yes, it’s been that long. Yes, you are getting old.) While reaction to Scott Hartnell coming to the capital city has been overwhelmingly positive, some fans have expressed a bit of sadness over R.J. leaving.
Or is over R.J. Asking for a trade?
Contracts and commitments are funny, in that they mean nothing anymore. Maybe that’s a bit harsh but how many times do you see a player request a trade? I’m certainly no purist but shouldn’t you honor the contract that YOU agreed to and that YOU signed on to for?
Now, yes, I understand his reasoning. And it’s kind of ironic that he’s asking to be traded for the exact opposite reason Rick Nash asked to be traded for. Simply put, Nash didn’t want to be apart of a bad team, and R.J. Wasn’t good enough to be on a good one. He even admitted it.
Columbus got rid of a player who wanted out for a player that is better. But amidst the celebration and the parade routing we have to ask the questions. Although Nash’s situation was drastically different from Umberger’s, didn’t both request a trade? There’s no way we boo R.J. when he comes back to face the Jackets but should we embrace him with open arms?
He’s the one who asked for a change of scenery. You may think it was the best situation for both parties, but he still bailed. He saw what the future of the Columbus Blue Jackets held and felt he didn’t fit in the plans. Umberger did what he felt was best for his career. If fans can forgive Rick Nash (the recent hatred is due to the punch to Sergei Bobrovsky, not the request), they can certainly forgive #18 for wanting out.But the bigger question remains: should we? No matter the situation, should we just be okay with a player wanting out? It’s easy to be outraged when a Daniel Alfreddson or a Jason Spezza asks for a trade. It’s easy to be outraged when a captain refuses to go down with his ship. But when a player wants out because the team is getting better?
At the end of the day, R.J. was a solder for the boys in union blue, on the front lines on a team that, for years, lost a lot of battles. And once they finally got better, he got worse and wanted out. Fair enough. He’s certainly no traitor. But he’s no longer a Blue Jacket. He isn’t good enough to be one anymore.