BOSTON ? The years of trying to raise his team to prominence in Columbus are long over.
So are the months, or more, of dealing with trade rumors that seemed to follow him wherever the Blue Jackets went.
Now it?s time for Rick Nash, six months after he was dealt out of Columbus, to make his debut with the New York Rangers. Nash and his new club open the 2012-13 season Saturday night at TD Garden against the Boston Bruins.
???It???ll be a lot of emotion, a lot of excitement, a lot of nerves,??? Nash said after the Rangers??? morning skate. ???It???s obviously taken longer because of the lockout. But I think the biggest feeling will be excitement, getting the excitement going and playing my first one as a Ranger.???
After scoring 289 goals in 674 games with the Blue Jackets, Nash is expected to give the Rangers the type of scoring that could push them further in the coming Stanley Cup Playoffs after they reached the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Sometimes stars can have a difficult time fitting into a new constellation, but Rangers coach John Tortorella doesn???t anticipate a tough adjustment period for Nash in his lineup.
???He???s going to fit in. We???re going to have to be a better team this year, so other players are going to have to be better,??? Tortorella said. ???And that???s going about their business with their strengths and also working on their other parts of the game. So people aren???t going to be looking toward him. I think he???ll add to us but our other guys have to do their work and then some.???
Here???s the Rangers??? projected lineup:
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Rick Nash
Marian Gaborik - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Chris Kreider - Brian Boyle - Taylor Pyatt
Mike Rupp - Jeff Halpern - Brandon Segal
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel