Identity Crisis: Columbus Blueshirts And New York Blue Jackets?

Gaborik will once again have new linemates (Dbostrom/Flickr )
Gaborik will once again have new linemates (Dbostrom/Flickr )

Who are the “Columbus Blueshirts” and the “New York Blue Jackets”?  Are these names of the latest Broadway shows?  Or are they a couple of brand new NHL expansion franchises? No, they are merely a metamorphosis of the NHL trades that have occurred over the last year.  Talk about team identity crisis!  Not only did players get swapped with the recent flurry of activity just before the trade deadline, but it seems as though team nicknames may have been at play, too.

A Tale Of 2 Cities


Unlikely dance partners, New York City and Columbus have become bosom buddies over the past year, thanks to the Blue Jackets and the Rangers making monster-size trades with each other.  It’s the kind of kinship last seen when the New York Yankees fielded their triple-A farm team in Columbus in a bygone era.  Actually, one might argue that the Yankees-Columbus Clippers relationship was much like that of a master and servant, respectively.

Fast-forwarding to the here and now, I would submit that the New York Rangers are much like an older brother who has sailed the seven seas.  In comparison, the Columbus Blue Jackets are like a pesky teenage sibling raring to get out of the parental homestead and conquer the world.    

Nonetheless, the Rangers and Jackets have built a bridge between the two cities to the point that it is becoming increasingly difficult to clearly discern the identity of each team.  In fact, one might even surmise that the teams have swapped their nicknames along with a bountiful of players and draft picks. 

Rick Nash And The “New York Blue Jackets”

rick nash rangers
Rick Nash is in a little hot water with hockey fans. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Less than a year ago, Rick Nash waived his no-trade clause and took off for the bright lights and excitement of New York City.  Not only was he the face of the franchise, his name was synonymous with the team.  When you thought of the Columbus Blue Jackets, you immediately envisioned Rick Nash.  Not anymore, obviously.  When he left Columbus, the Blue Jackets tag followed him.  Alas, we have the birth of the “New York Blue Jackets”, otherwise known as Team Nash.

Derick Brassard, John Moore, Derek Dorsett, And Anton Stralman

Derick Brassard (Courtesy of 5of7/Flickr)
Derick Brassard (Courtesy of 5of7/Flickr)

If that isn’t enough to christen the “New York Blue Jackets” then just reflect on the new arrivals from Columbus.  Who are we talking about?  Derick Brassard, John Moore and Derek Dorsett.  And, they aren’t exactly parsley on a steak platter, either.  Both Brassard and Moore scored goals in their debut with New York.  Anton Stralman is another former Blue Jacket who is now playing for the Rangers.

Marian Gaborik And The “Columbus Blueshirts”

Marian Gaborik Rangers
Marian Gaborik Clicking with Rangers linemates (Icon SMI)

After Rick Nash’s departure, Columbus had no stars left on the roster.  With a courageous and bold move by new GM, Jarmo Kekalainen, the Jackets were able to snare away super-star Marian Gaborik from Broadway.  However, they gave up the trio of Brassard, Moore and Dorsett along with a lower round draft pick but held on to all of their picks in the 1st round of the upcoming draft.  Was it a bargain for Columbus?  Time will tell.  Nevertheless, the signing of Gaborik meant the Jackets finally had an all-star on their team.  Gaborik has brought with him the winning spirit of the Blueshirts.  While Nash’s name used to be synonymous with the Columbus Blue Jackets, it is now Gaborik’s turn.  Thus, we have Team Gaborik and the birth of the “Columbus Blueshirts”.  For New York, it meant the loss of one of their key goal scorers over the last 3 years albeit this season has been a bit slow for the native of Slovakia. 

Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov And Tim Erixon

Brandon Dubinsky Rangers
(Icon SMI)

Other Blueshirts now in Columbus include Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon that came as a part of the Rick Nash trade along with the Rangers number 1 draft pick.  Dubinsky and Anisimov have made hearty contributions to their new club and Erixon has earned a spot in Columbus as opposed to being relegated to the Jackets AHL affiliate in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Vinny Prospal, Fedor Tyutin, John Davidson And Keith Acton

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

If that isn’t enough to christen the “Columbus Blueshirts” then how about throwing into the mix the likes of Vinny Prospal and Fedor Tyutin?  Both of these players have come by the way of the New York Rangers.  And, if you really want to wind the clock back then please include John Davidson in this conversation.  Davidson is of course the President of hockey operations in Columbus but used to play for the Rangers and also was a broadcaster for them.  For good measure, we will also include Keith Acton, Assistant Coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets who held a similar position with the Rangers.

NHL Realignment Will Spur Intriguing Rivalry

Next season, the NHL realignment plan will put the New York Rangers and the Columbus Blue Jackets in the same division and conference.  Thus, there will be an exponential increase in the number of games played between these two closely connected teams.  There are so many plots and sub-plots which will drive up fan interest. 

Will “Blue-seaters” give Gaborik a warm welcome?


What kind of reception will Marian Gaborik get when he returns to the venerable Madison Square Gardens in an opposing team’s uniform?  The same can be said for Dubinsky, Anisimov and Erixon who will be playing their first game against their former team next season barring trades or injuries.

Will Nationwide Arena be as warm and inviting to Nash?

Blue Jackets Cannon Logo

When Rick Nash plays his first game in Columbus in an opposing team’s uniform, what kind of reception will he get from the thousands that revered him once upon a time?  Brassard and Moore may get a tepid response but Dorsett is likely to receive a hometown hero’s welcome. 

The Fans

Regardless of a probable identity crisis surrounding team names, one thing is for sure.  There are plenty of fans on both sides that are going to miss their favorite players that got traded.  While Rick Nash may have left the fruited plains for the big city, he will always remain a part of Columbus.  In another decade or so, don’t be surprised if Nash is working in the front office at the corner of Front Street and Nationwide Boulevard in downtown Columbus.  Just saying!