Even though Rick Nash has maintained his home in Columbus, the New York Rangers forward is staying in the team hotel for his first trip back to the city where he grew up as a hockey player.
"Just like a regular road trip," Nash told reporters in Columbus after practice Thursday.
Nash may be saying that as a way to convince himself, or to deflect the nerves and emotions he's feeling leading up to his first game as a visitor in Nationwide Arena, but this road trip to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday is anything but regular for him.
Nash figured that out Thursday when he walked into the arena he called home for 10 years and saw familiar faces everywhere, including security guards and some members of the Blue Jackets training staff who tend to the visitors dressing room.
He has faced his former team twice this season at Madison Square Garden, scoring two goals on Jan. 6, but this is Nash's first game in Columbus since he was traded in the summer of 2012. The Rangers didn't make the trip last season and he was out with a concussion when they were there Nov. 7.
"It's tough to describe," Nash said when asked how he felt about his return. "Obviously it's the first time being here since the trade, and there's a lot of excitement for me coming back to play in front of the fans I played in front of for 10 years. There are a lot of good memories here, a lot of friends made."