A year or two ago -- heck, a month or two ago -- it seemed unthinkable that the Columbus Blue Jackets would ever consider trading captain Rick Nash.
He's a five-time All-Star, the one Columbus constant since 2002. He has another six years on his contract, so the team is in no danger of losing the 27-year-old soon.
He's the Blue Jackets' all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals, shorthanded goals, game-winning goals and shots.
Basically, he's the face of the franchise.
"When you think Columbus Blue Jackets, you think Rick Nash," said teammate RJ Umberger.
But things have to change in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets have never won a playoff game. They fired their coach last month and are trying to trade Jeff Carter, the emotionally divested-yet-talented player with a lifetime contract they acquired only last summer from Philadelphia to play alongside Nash for the rest of time.
Now, it seems Columbus wants to start over. It's looking to completely reinvent its culture one summer after spending oodles of cash on guys like James Wisniewski and trading for a moping Carter.
If you're going to start over, maybe, just maybe, you have to start with the star forward who's never won a playoff game.
Nash genuinely loves Columbus. But you know losing every single year gets old, which is why he's made clear he is willing to waive his no-trade clause for the right destination. Do you think Nash wants to waste more of his peak years of the only NHL career he will ever have?
It's an honor to be Canada's captain in the world championships. But not every year.
The Columbus Dispatch has reported that Nash has given General Manager Scott Howson a list of teams he would be open to, including the Rangers, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Toronto.
But if you're a team running as well as the Rangers, Canucks or Bruins, are you really willing to gut your roster and disrupt chemistry to get Nash?
Often it's easier to make trades in the summer, when you can blow a hole through your roster and have time to repair the damage. It's also easier to take on Nash's $7.8 million salary cap in the offseason. And if Howson waits until the offseason, more teams may get involved or the teams might be more eager to give up big pieces.
The one playoff team that appears to be desperate enough to add Nash now is Los Angeles. And the Kings have a prized goalie prospect in Jonathan Bernier.
The Kings can't score. They are dead last in goals. In Jonathan Quick's 25 losses, they had given him 29 goals. They are under immense pressure -- especially since fans know ticket prices are rising.
One thing for sure: The Jackets better get this right. Unlike the Wild, this is a franchise that actually does get top draft picks every year -- 11 top-eight picks since 2000. Columbus swings and misses more than Dave Kingman.
You can't sell hope to fans by trading Nash and then allowing another group of prospects to flounder again.
This franchise is at a crossroads, and Blue Jackets fans are understandably wary.