Rick Nash Has Left the Building

Posted by AlisonL on July 24, 2012
Columbus Blue Jackets, Team Discussion, Trade News

As hockey fans know, Rick Nash was traded yesterday from the Blue Jackets. The trade officially brought the Nash era to an end in Columbus; however, since the original announcement that a trade was asked for in February, we’ve watched the slow removal of Nash from the franchise. It was subtle – no more Nash on the official website, his voice no longer implored us to follow the team during radio advertisements, #61 didn’t loom large over Nationwide Arena or the Columbus Airport. By the time Nash was officially “gone”, it seemed like he’d been gone for a long time. But this was Rick’s way. Quiet, under the radar. It was Rick’s blessing and curse:

Off ice, you can never be at a loss for a story of Rick’s dedication to community and kindness. These stories were almost always followed with a “and no one even asked”, “there wasn’t any media there”.

On ice, though Rick owns the current CBJ record books, people who clamored for fiery leadership or blatant displays of energy were left wanting more.

As the losses piled up, and the playoff wins remained a dream, Rick’s nature became his albatross in Columbus. Few can argue whether Nash’s skill remains one of the best in the league, but it was the scepter of “hero” that seemed to weigh him down. To many, Rick Nash had become “Rick Nash”. In some ways, the expectations were impossible to accomplish.

And then came the request for a trade. In the midst of the worst year in franchise history, it became known that Rick wanted out. To a select list of teams. Some celebrated this announcement, considering it proof that Nash wasn’t “all in” for Columbus. Some went through the emotional process of realizing that their guy was leaving: was leaving the Blue Jackets, was leaving Columbus, was leaving US.

I’ve never been the kind of fan who celebrates “the franchise player”. Perhaps it’s the underdog in me, but I’m leery of anyone who is supposed to be everything to everyone. I had grown tired of watching opposing defences swarm Nash while Umberger/Prospal/Brassard languished on the other wing. I had become exhausted with hearing “what does Nash need” for trades, free agency, drafts. And we all know the headlines “Nash is too good for Columbus” and so on. And maybe, Rick had grown tired of these things too.

So when the intention to trade became clear, I did not begrudge the request. We all want what’s best for ourselves. Sometimes, it means shedding elements of our surroundings to achieve our goals. Noone gets to the highest levels of professional sports without a ridiculous amount of hard work and skill, there is no harm in seeking a payoff for that.

We suffered through the never-ending waltz of trade today / no trade today, confined by a list and taunted by the media. We watched as the storyline changed from Nash being too good for Columbus to Nash not being all that good at all. Our team was long maligned, now our one star was leaving us and he was being maligned too. And a crazy thing happened, in a weird twist of events, many CBJ faithful felt compelled to defend Nash, and his GM, Scott Howson. Blue Jackets fans who had been berating the Captain for wanting to go now had one last chance to, in their own ways, appreciate and champion the player who was leaving. It wasn’t a proper goodbye, but, when the deal was signed, the emotional pendulum had perhaps swung from disdain and loss to pride and acceptance.

And now, Rick Nash is no longer a Blue Jacket. Ranger jerseys with the #61 were available for purchase this morning. The man who helped form the identity of the CBJ for the better part of its formative years is gone. Who will our fans look to as the face of the franchise? Who will our players look to for how to practice, or to take that possible game winning shot? Who will be the CBJ?

The TEAM.

We’ve started to hear “collective scoring”. We’re talking about Johnson, Wisniewski, Nikitin, Murray, Dorsett and Dubinsky. We are a team of many faces – not just one.

I believe that there is something poetic in receiving numerous pieces back for the one part that is Rick Nash. A quality NHL team is not one player, it is a mosaic of coaching, and development, and scouting, dedication, work ethic and on-ice talent. It wasn’t Rick Nash that had this whole thing wrong, maybe it was us. And maybe, we’re trying to finally set this thing up the right way. Perhaps our flaw was thinking that Rick Nash could make us a winner when it really will take so much more. Maybe we’re finally starting to put the pieces together to do this right – for a long time.

Rick Nash is gone. And I wish him well. And I stand behind my favorite team of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

We are no longer all about Rick Nash, we are about our team. Listen to the words: “team” vs. “Nash”.  Excuse? Justification? Salve?  Maybe its just reality.

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11 Comments to Rick Nash Has Left the Building

  • I get what youre saying about “team” vs. “Nash”, but what people are missing is that Nash was the team. No one was stopping anyone else on the team from stepping up and making the plays happen. Nash didnt say whoa whoa Umby, Vinny, Dorse….dont go out and play hard tonight, I got this! Sure those guys had great moments. But at the end of the year who had the most points, again? Theyre all free to step up at anytime and make something happen nightly. Problem is, we only see flashes here and there. That wont cut it.

    • Thanks for the comment, Hines61. I appreciate your point. And I agree. I actually believe that Nash’s way stifled the other guys. Now did they allow that to happen? Yes. But reference Aaron Portzline’s piece as well. One of his 61 points talks about how Nash’s choice to not defend another Jacket physically set a tone for the team. Its not wrong, its who Nash is. Captainships are a hazy thing – they can impact the way players act on and off the ice. Choosing to show up the Captain, particularly one as talented as Nash can be a big deal. All of this is part of why I have some hope – now that Nash is gone, noone can “hide” behind him and his talent.

    • Hines.. Interesting that you’d focus on point total vs expectation.. Are we expecting Vinny or Dorse to go out there and outpoint Nash? I certainly am not. They are paid accordingly, and what you seem to be missing, is that Nash was nowhere near meeting his expectations, regardless of the others around him.

      Where you suggest he wasn’t stopping guys, was he really getting them going? Leadership is a funny thing, and when the leader is coasting around the blueline, how would you react?

      • His expectations was to score goals and lead the team. Like i said, i wish he would be a more physical. That would help the motivation of the other players. I also believe the others around him are crucial too. He also needs motivating players as well. Look at what he was able to do in the Olympic and All-star games. Without question it got very old for everyone on this team. Nash didnt have quality players to bolster his game. Therefore he lacked energy and that was felt by others and theyre game went downhill. Everyones loosing sight of what he did for the team and the results he showed. Too many are focused on this past season which was awfull for all players. Thats why its aggravating reading nothing but negativity about him when just a couple years ago he was awesome in everyones eyes. Thats all

        • His past season? He’s been declining for three straight years, and interestingly enough, so has the team with him. What he does in the Olympics means next to nothing in Columbus. He scored 41 for the Jackets with “no one” supporting him, giving me no good reason to expect less.

          Also, leaders don’t need to be motivated, they are the motivation. The paycheck, the fans, and the pride of the logo on the front of the jersey is all he should have needed. Anything more than that, and we’re back to the same logic: He’s no leader.

          Also, I was a die hard Nash fan not two years ago. It’s his plummeting quality and limited interest in playing every game for my team that destroyed his rep with me.

          • Wait, the team has been declining? Im sorry but when was our team ever overly good to even decline? We were good one year and got in the playoffs. Who was our captain then? Who scored the winning goal to get us in that spot? Theres been four other players to wear the C in Columbus and not one of them led our team as far as Nash. In time, bad playing with bad players, managment mistakes and losing would wear a person down. I dont give a crap HOW MUCH money you were making. Every player wants to win. When theres no product to win with its time to move on. He LED our team to good things. No one was there to follow.

  • I understand what youre saying. As an avid Nash fan, thats one area of his game I would get discouraged with. Not getting physical enough. And I’m sure if he had been more physical and tough on ice then that would have pumped the team up more. It just seems like now that hes gone everyone wants to throw him under the bus as the reason we didnt succeed when he was the top point man year after year. As always, I will hope for the best this season but after seven years of loyal following, hope is getting thinner.

    • I certainly understand every point there! I certainly wasn’t – and never will – throw Nash under the bus. He’s a good guy and a tremendous talent. I think the bigger issue we faced is that the organization built *only* around Nash, versus building a stable organization. We need to bolster our hockey front office as well and get this train on the right track (which the Coach has written on before here). I think Nash deserves the perspective to see he wasn’t the end all be all, but to also always respect all that he’s done for us. If this team can show signs of getting stuff going the right way – they’ll keep me for a long long time.

  • Hines, the fact that Nash’s best year as a leader was also the teams best year should not be ignored. And yes, per my example, the team has declined from its’ playoff year each season since then, and strangely enough, so too has Nash.

    If you want to blame management for Nash’s inability to captain the team, that’s fine, I’m not stopping you, I’m simply disagreeing with every bit of statistical decline on 61s stat sheet since the playoffs season in which he lead the team into the post-season. If you are under the impression that he’s been the same great leader every year since being awarded the “C” I suppose you’ve got a lot to be upset about, but I sure don’t.

    • I agree his stats have dropped off in later years as well as the team. But I think its unfair to place the blame on Nash’s shoulders. Since our playoff run, weve been through four coaches and a revolving door of players. Not to mention injuries that have plagued the team. Its not one person’s fault of the decline. As numbers go, Parise was on the Eastern team in the finals and put up 31 goals last season. The Kings captain that won the cup put up 22 goals in the season. Seems to me that Nash was right on par with champions and even above. Time will tell how the next captain leads this group and how the team does.

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