For Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash, one thing has never been in question: he desperately wants to win hockey games in the city of Columbus. That’s why he elected to sign a long-term contract extension with the club in 2009. He has been the face of the franchise and its best player since being the first overall pick in the 2002 Entry Draft.
The possibility of the Blue Jackets and Rick Nash parting ways via trade has dominated the days leading up to yesterday’s NHL trade deadline. The deadline came and went with the Blue Jackets captain still just that – the Blue Jackets captain – and with the knowledge that he had approached the club in late-January and asked that it consider trading him.
It was neither a demand nor an edict, but a request geared towards the best interests of a franchise looking to re-shape its roster and a player who will turn 28 in June and is in the prime of his career.
“I was informed by management that there was a rebuild - a reshape of the team,” Nash said this morning. “I personally felt I could be a huge part of that with bringing assets (in return from a trade). I think that, in my view, was the best thing for the team, the organization and personally for my career.”
Though a deal could not be struck prior the 3 p.m. deadline yesterday, Nash said he remains optimistic that the process will progress in the offseason and both parties are able to accomplish what they set out to do.
“I understand Scott has got to make a fair deal and I want what’s best for the team and for the organization,” he said.
One of the first things Nash did when he arrived at Nationwide Arena this morning was meet with his teammates and address the situation as any captain would: with honesty and full transparency. It was appreciated by the Blue Jackets and reflective on Nash’s character.
“It went over well – as well as it could, I guess,” Nash said. “It’s been tough for them, especially with me being the leader and the captain. But I was honest with them and told them everything I’m telling you guys, and they all respected that and supported me and stood behind me.”
That opinion was shared by the group. Simply put: they stand behind their captain 100 percent.
“It just shows the kind of person and the kind of man he is,” Derek Dorsett said. “We all understand this business. No one in here is mad at Rick or mad at the Blue Jackets. We'll move on from it and we know Rick is going to give 110 percent the rest of the way."
There has been speculation Nash went to the Blue Jackets ownership group and demanded a change in management, and if the demand was not met, he would seek a trade.
Nash vehemently denied that, while also refuting the notion that his trade request resulted in a lack of confidence in team management. He also said that his focus moving forward will be on the next 20 games and giving everything he’s got for the organization, the city and its fans.
“I believe in ownership. I believe in Scott Howson. I love being a Blue Jacket, love the city, love the fans and that is something that will never change.”
“I’m going to worry about the next 20 games, and worry about playing those and giving everything I can to the city, to the fans,” Nash said. “They’ve stood behind me my whole career and hopefully I’ve offered them a bunch of things to talk about. I think the biggest thing is I’m a Blue Jacket, I’m a captain and I’m going to be giving 100 percent to this whole city and this organization.”