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Riley Nash eager to create own identity with Blue Jackets

Aims to fit in, avoid comparisons to former Columbus forward Rick Nash

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- Riley Nash is OK with being the "other Nash" in the minds of some Columbus Blue Jackets fans.

Nash, 29, signed a three-year, $8.25 million contract with the Blue Jackets on July 1 after setting NHL career highs in goals (15), assists (26) and points (41) for the Boston Bruins last season. He has 139 points (53 goals, 86 assists) in 399 NHL games with Boston and the Carolina Hurricanes.

Those statistics pale compared to former Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash, who is their all-time leader in games (674), points (547), goals (289) and assists (258), playing from 2002-12.

"I'm definitely not trying to live up to his standards," Riley Nash said Monday. "I'm just trying to blaze my own trail, my own path."

Riley Nash will wear No. 20 and not the No. 61 worn by Rick Nash during his time with the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Bruins, and there will be no confusion unless Rick Nash, an unrestricted free agent, returns to Columbus.

That wasn't the case in Boston when Rick Nash was acquired in a trade with the Rangers on Feb. 25.

Tweet from @BlueJacketsNHL: Next stop for @rileynash20, Chiller North for CBJ Hockey School.#CBJ

"The first day that we trade for Rick I got about 30 text messages, 'What are we going to do with the name plate?'" Riley Nash said. "Even with the sports apps they didn't quite pick up on it, so people thought I was scoring every other night. You've got to know better than that.

"He's a great guy first and foremost, and whatever's going on he'll figure it out and I hope all the best for him. I know he's left a lasting impression on my career."

Riley Nash was signed to provide depth at center and versatility for the Blue Jackets. He had an opportunity to play top-six minutes for the Bruins last season because of injuries and is eager to see what his role with the Blue Jackets will be.

"I've been able to look at my game and how it fits in this team and what I can bring," he said. "I'm kind of suited to this style."

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