Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason has often been the most convenient target for a fed-up fan base, fairly or not, in a season full of failures.

Mason is in a third consecutive season that failed to live up to the expectations of his first, when he won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year and drove the Blue Jackets to their only playoff appearance. But 2009 is a distant memory. Mason's future with the last-place Blue Jackets has become clouded with doubt. Will there be a trade? A buyout?

Both are possibilities. So is an extended commitment to the hoped-to-be franchise goaltender, born of a late-season turnaround that began last month, when the 6-foot-4, 217-pound Mason made himself even bigger and, quite literally, looser.

"We totally redesigned his equipment," goaltending coach Ian Clark said. "He was playing undersized relative to league limits."