The discussions date all the way back to the NHL trading deadline in February, and once the New York Rangers were defeated in the Eastern Conference Final by the New Jersey Devils, the trade talks were ignited once again.
For a process that can come to a head with seemingly one blink of an eye, negotiations to deal Rick Nash to the Rangers could best be described as complex, lengthy, and fluid, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson said this afternoon.
The names talked about on either side may have changed, or the pieces to the puzzle shuffled once in a while, but in the end, it was the Rangers who were consistently the front-runner to acquire Nash.
"We've gone through a number of discussions with the Rangers," Howson said today. "It had its ebbs and flows. The trade deadline was one, the draft was another, and then it really picked up again the last week or so.
"I had a good conversation with (Rangers GM) Glen Sather on Friday, we sat on it on the weekend add we talked again this morning."
At the root of the negotiations, Howson said, was a two-fold objective: the Blue Jackets set the bar high from the outset and held firm on the price to acquire Nash, the team's captain, a five-time All-Star and seven-time scorer of 30-plus goals in the NHL.
Howson reiterated throughout the process that there were no secrets; teams knew exactly what it would cost to complete a trade and he was not going to apologize for the price being high.
On the other side of the coin was a need to consummate a deal that worked for Nash. The player had a no-trade clause in his contract and would approve a trade to a specific list of teams, but regardless, the Blue Jackets had to receive fair value for a player of his caliber -- and there were no exceptions.
"Really, this was all about getting the right deal for Rick," Howson said. "We weren't going to get a deal done until we felt we got proper value, and that value happened to occur today.
"A trade like this just takes time. You're trading a marquee player, and sometimes, it takes time to get the right value. It took us five-and-half, six months to get the value we were happy with. That's just the way this trade happened. Nothing surprises me in this game."