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And once again, the team’s best player and captain, Nash, didn’t get a whole lot of help. The franchise has sought a centerman to set him up ever since Nash (32 goals, 34 assists in 75 games) came into the league eight years ago. There have been a dozen or more possibilities, some more effective than others, but none with much staying power. The next in line will likely be 18-year-old Ryan Johansen, last season’s first-round draft pick, who will be given every chance to make the big club next year.

What’s most troubling is it’s hard to pinpoint the Blue Jackets’ problems because they seem to change from week to week.

“You can’t really put your finger on one thing. It’s kind of a whole bunch of different things,” said forward Jared Boll, one of the team’s few tough guys. “At times, we played well and looked like a playoff team and it looked like we were going to get in. Then, at other times, we looked like we were at the bottom of the cellar again.”

Now that Arniel and his staff know what they have and what they need, perhaps they can prevail upon Howson to make some upgrades. Several unrestricted free agents who produced little for what they were making (Scottie Upshall, Chris Clark, Ethan Moreau and Craig Rivet) will probably not return.

An influx of fresh blood, from the minors or another NHL outpost, might help end the franchise’s downward cycle.

“We took some steps to trying to change our identity as a group, where we allow defeat to happen, where we allow bad things to happen,” Arniel said. “We learned from it. We weren’t perfect at it. But we’ve gotten a lot better and have a lot more confidence in our abilities.”