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Jackets' captain Rick Nash feeling the pressure

Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Jackets' captain Rick Nash feeling the pressure
As captain of a team that's off to a 3-13-1 start, Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash is facing perhaps the toughest stretch of his career.
BOSTON -- Columbus captain Rick Nash has been under the microscope before. He's felt the pressure of being in the big game, such as when the gold medal was on the line for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"That's fun pressure," Nash told NHL.com.

Columbus' captain Rick Nash is feeling the heat thanks to the Blue Jackets getting off to a misreable 3-13-1 start. (Photo: Bill Smith/NHLI)
The pressure Nash feels right now is anything but.

He is the face of a struggling franchise that has become the butt of several poor-taste yet arguably just jokes. He is the captain and the guy that is in the second of an eight-year contract that pays him $62.4 million. He is the leader of a franchise that has never won a playoff game and has gone 3-13-1 to start the season.

"When you win, everyone looks at leadership and thinks they have great leadership," Nash said. "When you lose, leadership always gets questioned. I understand that's what comes along with being a captain. This is definitely the toughest times I've faced being a captain."

What's making this season so much more frustrating for Nash is he hasn't been part of the solution. He has just four goals, 12 points and a paltry minus-12 rating, which ties him for 693rd place in the NHL this season. Only Eric Staal's minus-17 is worse.

"The weight of the world is on his shoulders," Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson said. "Particularly with the moves we made this summer it looked like we were adding some experienced players to help move it along, and now it hasn't happened yet. He's struggled with that."

Howson added that Nash is guilty of trying to do too much, a sin that is committed only by struggling players on struggling teams.

"(Nash) wants to win very badly and he's taking it upon himself at times to try to make us win, which isn't always the right thing to do," he said. "We just want him to play the way he can play, play the game the right way, and not think that he has to score three goals every night for us to win."

The problem is Nash isn't wired that way. He admits that Howson is right, that he has been trying to do too much -- and as a result his play has suffered.

But how can anybody blame him for not trying to do all he can for the Blue Jackets right now? He knows how much ownership has invested in him to be part of the solution in Columbus, and he's not living up to the contract he signed or the potential both management and Nash know he can deliver on.

What's worse is now Nash is starting to take his frustrations home with him.

"You know what, it does bother me," Nash said. "When I first started this game I remember Tyler Wright telling me, 'At the rink you can be frustrated, but try not to bring things home with you.' It is a game and it is your life, but you always have to have a life outside hockey.

"But in these positions it's tough not to bring home and think about it 24/7. When you're trying to help your franchise, that's a different kind of pressure."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
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