GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- It took only a couple conversations with a former Ranger to help convince Rick Nash that New York was the place for him.
Vinny Prospal, who spent two seasons with the New York Rangers before signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, sang the praises of his former club, the organization and coach John Tortorella. Prospal was still in contact with Nash on Wednesday morning, two days after the blockbuster trade that sent one of the game's top scorers from Columbus to New York.
"Vinny just texted me about an hour ago," said Nash, seated at a locker with his new Rangers jersey hanging behind him at the MSG Training Center. "We talked when we were training together and he loved it here. He said it was one of the best parts of his career. He loves Torts. From my understanding, he's very demanding and a tough guy to play for and really preaches hard work, and that's what you expect from a coach. That's what you'd want."
Five months after informing Jackets general manager Scott Howson he'd welcome a trade, Nash was dealt to the Rangers on Monday in exchange for forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, rookie defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round pick. Nash said at no point during the process did he become frustrated or restless, but he admitted he would have liked to have joined the Rangers at last season's trade deadline.
"I was disappointed, but I was captain of an NHL hockey team and was professional," Nash said. "You look at huge deals and sometimes they get done in a day and sometimes it takes months. I think it's a pretty big trade for both organizations and it had to get done right and I respect that.
NASH TRADED TO RANGERS
Rangers acquire Nash from Columbus
By NHL.com Staff
Rick Nash, who has been on the trading block since February, has been sent to the Rangers in a multi-player deal that has the Blue Jackets receiving Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. READ MORE ›
"I always wanted to get it done, but get it done in the right way. I wanted to play somewhere where I wanted to be and this was my No. 1 priority, to be here. I'm just happy it worked out. If I had to wait all summer to come here, then I would have."
Less than 48 hours, the wheels were still spinning for the 28-year-old, who has six years and $46.8 million left on his contract.
"I don't think it's all digested just yet," said Nash, who flew into New York hours before arriving at the Rangers' practice facility to take part in a youth hockey camp and meet the media. "It's been a bit crazy, with everything happening and coming down here. I'm excited to meet all the staff here and all the people and get to know some of the players and look forward to training camp."
Nash, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, reportedly submitted a list of five teams he was willing to play for -- the Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, Red Wings and Sharks. He said his priority wasn't coming to a big market, but rather coming to a team that was ready to contend now and into the future.
That's why, Nash said, the Rangers were his top choice.
"I think the main thing was looking at the team and looking at what they've done over the last couple years," Nash said. "It's something that I'd love to be part of and I'd love to try to help them out. I think the big market is just a bonus that comes with it. Growing up in and around Toronto, this is what I'm used to for hockey and it was a bit of a change playing in Columbus. After playing there for 9-10 years, I think I'm looking forward to seeing all this."
Nash also lamented his lack of team success in Columbus, but is ready to turn the page.
"I would've definitely hoped to win there a lot more and play more than four playoff games in a nine-year career," Nash said. "But the reality is it didn't happen and the plan didn't pan out the way I wanted it to. I think I look at the positive. For me to end up in New York with one of the most historic organizations, and I think every kid dreams of playing for an Original Six in that big-time city, and I don't think there's a better place than that for me."
Nash said he received calls and text messages from new teammates Ryan Callahan, Henrik Lundqvist, Brad Richards and Marc Staal offering welcomes and encouragement. Nash might have been most excited about hearing from Richards, who will become the most accomplished center the winger has ever played with.
During Nash's career in Columbus, he never had a marquee center at his disposal despite scoring 289 goals in 674 career games.
"It's exciting," Nash said of coming to New York. "Over the years in Columbus, we tried different combinations. Sometimes it worked. There were some good seasons in there, personally, and a couple good ones where we came close to making the playoffs. This is a world-class team (with) a top centerman."
Along with the excitement will come pressure, and Nash knows it.
"It's been a bit crazy, with everything happening and coming down here. I'm excited to meet all the staff here and all the people and get to know some of the players and look forward to training camp." -- Rick Nash on his trade to the New York Rangers
The Rangers finished first in the Eastern Conference last season and advanced to the conference finals. By adding Nash without losing any top-six forwards or NHL defensemen, the expectations will be even higher this season.
Nash, a native of Brampton, Ont., was a member of Canada's gold-medal team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. With that experience in his back pocket, he's ready for what New York will throw at him.
"I'll embrace it great," Nash said. "I think in 2010, I had the most pressure on me in the Olympics being in our home country. I feel like hockey is truly a passion here where they expect the same championship-caliber team. I think they've done everything they can as an organization to put that together and I think pressure is a great thing if you use it in the right way."
Nash said he doesn't mind playing right wing or left wing and he'll do whatever is asked of him by Tortorella, whose teams are well-known for blocking shots and playing responsible defense in their own end. Tortorella is also known for running one of the NHL's most grueling training camps, something Nash likely discussed with Prospal before the trade went down.
"I've heard that a couple times now," Nash said. "I'll definitely be practicing that. I think it's important. Every coach and each team has their own little thing for training camp. I think it's great. Guys have to be in top shape if they want to play at the top level and be the best."