Finally, Rick Nash has something to smile about. On the cover of the latest Hockey News, the newest teammate of the New York Rangers thrills the Blueshirt fans, but chills the Columbus Blue Jackets fans.
The Nash deal took a toll on both New York and Columbus. New York’s refusal to trade key players put a stranglehold on Columbus, but in the end the key players remained with the Rangers and Rick Nash was pleased to sign with a Cup contending team.
Hold on. This is the same Hockey News that predicts the New York Rangers to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference. While Nash is an asset, there seems to be some debate on how seamless this transition will be.
When the Rangers signed Brad Richards to a nine-year $60 million deal, Brad was perceived as a savior. When asked about the moniker, Brad responded clearly, “No, I don’t. Be great if we won a Cup, then you can call me whatever you want.”
The Rangers were so close to the Stanley Cup and Nash could be the elemental piece missing, but is he a savior? Skeptics say that Nash has no playoff experience, but that was due to the lack of opportunity. In his nine seasons in Columbus, Nash only played in one playoff series after claiming the seventh seed in the West. The Jackets were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the quarterfinals in 2009.
Nash is excited to join the Rangers and play in a larger market. “They are already one of the top teams in the league. The players they have are pretty impressive,” Nash said. “In finding a team, I thought the Rangers were perfect. They are a great fit for my style.” Several of Rick’s new teammates have contacted the former first overall pick in 2002, notably Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal and Brad Richards.
Coach John Tortorella’s system in place will receive some overhaul as Nash is placed in the lineup. Defense must keep the lanes clear for Nash to work his magic and pick up points. In The Hockey News, Rick Nash said he believed in that same kind of philosophy “I played under Hitch for four years and I learned the defensive game then and I love it. You gain all your offense from solid defensive play. Hitch taught that to me at a young age and I really believe it.”
If there is a 2012-13 season, last year’s stats only give a prediction of the possible impact Nash will have on the team. Nash is a player who has averaged 33 goals a season for the last seven seasons, so there’s no reason to think he’d flop because he’s on a better team.
“We’re happy to have a five-time All-Star on our team and a 40-goal scorer,” said New York general manager Glen Sather. “He will help us immensely.”
Nash will be welcomed by the Rangers and their fans in large part to a need for the adrenaline boost. Last season’s performances were just short of expectations. If Nash can bring the added scoring to New York’s line, how long will it take?
The bottom line is that Nash must demonstrate the skills he has, rather than the faltering in Columbus. Nash, as the captain of the team, took the responsibility but was unable to lead the Blue Jackets to success. The dynamics working in New York are far different than what went on in Columbus. Nash wasn’t happy and had to move on for the sake of the team, not just for himself.
Rick is happy to be a Blueshirt on Broadway. “I think the main thing was looking at the team, looking at what they’ve done over the years. It’s something I’d love to be part of. I’d love to help them out. I think the big-market is just a bonus that comes along with it,”
Now, Nash can put his talents to Broadway and if he falters here, he’ll be begging to get out. New York is not shy in disappointment. Predictions have placed Nash as the newest savior who will give the Rangers Cup contention.
Heidi has been a Rangers fan since the Gretzky years. While focusing on The Blue Line and hockey’s stalwart defenders, Heidi also connects with the human side of hockey. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or at her blog Don’t Cross My Blue Line.