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April 30, 2012 | 10:11am ET
Mason on the outs in Columbus
TheFourthPeriod.com

Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason may have led the club to its only playoff berth back in 2008-09, but GM Scott Howson believes it is time for a change in between the pipes, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

With the Jackets missing the playoffs for the third straight season, Mason has bottomed out with some of the worst statistics in the NHL, causing his future, not only in Columbus, but as a viable netminder in the NHL, to come into question.

"You start to worry about him now becoming the next Andrew Raycroft or the next Jim Carey," an unnamed NHL goaltending coach told the Dispatch.

"You wonder if he just needs to get out of (Columbus), maybe play for a better team in a different situation, that maybe he'd get it back together again. He definitely needs a change of scenery. But even then you wonder if he ever gets back to where he was."

While Mason refused to comment on the situation, Howson admitted to having discussed the issue with the 23-year-old, as management refuses to maintain the status quo in net.

"We need a different look in goal," Howson revealed to the paper. "We need better play from that position. I told Steve in our exit interviews (earlier this month) that we're going to have a different look at that position next year, but that right now, nobody can predict what form that's going to take."

The Blue Jackets have a few options when it comes to figuring out what to do with Mason. Howson could trade him, although it could be a challenge to find a taker for his $3.2 million salary next season, or keep him on the roster as a backup goalie.

They could put Mason on waivers and hope he gets claimed by another team or, if he clears waivers, the Jackets could send him back to the minor leagues.

The Blue Jackets could also buy out the final year left on his contract, allowing both sides to part ways, giving Mason the ability to become an unrestricted free agent.

Not many people would have envisioned that it would come to this after Mason won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie and came in second for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender in the summer of 2009.

However, former Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock, who wanted Mason to start the 2009-10 season in the minors on a conditioning stint to help him get up to speed and to jolt his ego, once mentioned that there was a turning point following his first season.

"The worst thing that ever happened to Mason was that first year," said the goaltending coach. "He stopped listening to his coaches. He stopped listening to anybody. He felt like he had arrived."

Though some people have said that Mason is a decent teammate, he is also known to be irritable and moody, which raises questions on his maturity.

"(Washington goaltender) Braden Holtby is the same age as Mason," a former Blue Jackets player told the Dispatch. "Have you seen him interviewed after games? It's 'we' and 'us' and words like that.

"When I hear (Mason) after a game say 'I don't think you can put any of the goals on me tonight,' I just cringe. You can't go there. The goalie has to be the strongest mind in the room. You're going to be hung out to dry sometimes. That's the game. It's your job to stop those pucks."

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