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Mixed emotions in Columbus for Rick Nash’s return to Nationwide Arena

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Rick Nash found himself at the bottom of this pile in a game that was as physical as it was emotional. (Mike Munden/AP)

Rick Nash found himself at the bottom of this pile in a game that was as physical as it was emotional. (Mike Munden/AP)

By Nick Stoico

The big question heading into Friday night’s game between the Rangers and the Blue Jackets was whether Rick Nash would be welcomed warmly or booed in his first game back in Columbus since being traded in 2012.

Just a day after Zach Parise received a not-so-warm welcome back to New Jersey, who would have thought Nash would get both?

The initial reception was a little icy, as the Rangers winger was booed after being introduced in the starting lineup:

It didn’t get much better when the game started, either.
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  • Published On Mar 21, 2014
  • Relax, Canada. Steve Yzerman knows what he’s doing with Sochi roster

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    Rick Nash skating for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

    Rick Nash has a track record that Team Canada values even if fans are disagreeing with the pick. (David E. Klutho/SI)

    By Allan Muir

    And now comes the fun part.

    In the wake of today’s announcement of Team Canada’s roster for Sochi (and the Frenglish filibuster that proceeded it), a hockey-crazed nation and some interested outsiders have descended into second-guessing, name-calling, despair and recrimination over the players who did, or didn’t, make the cut.

    But allow me to offer a bit of advice.

    Relax, Canada.

    Steve Yzerman didn’t make a single mistake in naming his team today. Not one. That opinion, of course, is subject to change if O Canada isn’t the final anthem played in Sochi, but, now, at this moment, this squad looks fully capable of defending the gold medal an Yzerman-built team won in Vancouver four years ago.

    So what if your favorite guy didn’t make the cut? Let it go. This isn’t about favorites. None of these players were the sentimental choices of one man. The best hockey minds in the country (the protestations of Oilers’ fans are duly noted here) spent months vetting these players and with upwards of 60 legitimate options, and just 25 roster spots, there were bound to be a few choices that raised the ire of a nation of armchair GMs.

    So take a deep breath and consider the guys you’re complaining about.

    MUIR: Canada’s All-Snubbed TeamPlayer reaction  | Team USA’s snubs

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  • Published On Jan 07, 2014
  • NHL playoffs: Rangers start quest for history in Game 3 vs. Bruins

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    Rick Nash of the New York Rangers

    Sleeping giant: If Rick Nash is stirring from his scoring slump, he could be a series-changer. (Scott Levy/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    By now, fans of the New York Rangers are familiar with the daunting challenge that is facing their beloved Blueshirts.

    Plenty of teams have come back to win a series after being down two games to none, as the Rangers themselves did in their first-round meeting with the Washington Capitals. But not one has managed that trick twice in a row. And after dropping the first two contests in Boston, that’s the hurdle that awaits New York heading into tonight’s Game 3 against the Bruins.

    Fortunately, these Bruins might be primed for another date with history.

    After all, this is a team that has gained a reputation not just for lacking killer instinct, but for actively helping opponents up off the mat, brushing them off, and then rolling over for a game or two.

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  • Published On May 21, 2013
  • Snap Shots: Flyers PK In Shambles; HNIC Crew Needs a Trim

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    Tyler Myers (57) scores one of three power-play goals for the Sabres on Sunday. (Bill Wippert/Getty Images)

    Tyler Myers (57, far left) scores one of three power-play goals for the Sabres on Sunday. (Bill Wippert/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    • A couple months from now, we all may be applauding Hockey Night In Canada’s producers for the patience they showed while allowing the new five-man panel to work through some early growing pains. But hey, we might be raving about Lance Armstrong’s appointment as the head of WADA too, right?

    If the group–host Ron MacLean, and commentators Elliotte Friedman, Kevin Weekes, Glen Healy and P.J. Stock — were simply an embarrassment of riches, then it might just be a matter of letting them find their rhythm. But outside of consummate professional MacLean and Friedman, who has established himself as the game’s top studio presence, the rest of the crew came off like the unprepared guy at the meeting who feels like he has to say something, anything, to impress the boss. They were bland and noisy as they flailed to claim some space as their own. It all made for lousy TV.

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  • Published On Jan 21, 2013
  • Blue Jackets to rely on John Davidson’s aggressive patience

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    Columbus Blue Jackets

    A brighter future for the Blue Jackets is just beginning to unfold in Columbus. (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Click on the Blue Jackets website and you’ll see John Davidson on the start page, the design of which looks strikingly like a campaign ad.

    Is JD running for office? Senator Davidson? President Davidson?

    Well, Ohio is a battleground state in next month’s general election, with the parties spending an inordinate amount of resources to win its 18 electoral votes, so maybe the Blue Jackets’ image consultants (or web designer) believes that the political motif is the best, most familiar way to get through to the team’s fan base.

    Or maybe this team has launched a campaign of its own, one to win its fans back. If so, it could have no better standard bearer.

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  • Published On Oct 25, 2012
  • NHL lockout player exodus has its costs

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    The insurance on Alex Ovechkin for this year’s World Championships came to $400,000 and he played in only three games. The price for a KHL season will be much higher. (Photo by Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/GettyImages)

    By Stu Hackel

    They’re packing up and getting ready to go: Locked out NHL players have begun their inevitable migration to Europe in search of work.

    Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar are headed to Magnitogorsk to play for Metallurg of the KHL. Jaromir Jagr heads home to Kladno in the Czech Republic to play for his hometown team, which he owns with his father, and it seems that Tomas Plekanec will go with him. Joe Thornton, who met his wife while playing for Davos in the Swiss league during the last lockout, will go back there and could be joined by Rick Nash, his linemate in Davos that season. Ilya Kovalchuk, Ruslan Fedotenko, Lubomir Visnovsky, Jiri TlustyMark Streit, Yannick Weber, Jiri Hudler, Jussi Jokinen and goalies Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov are also part of the first wave of signings across the Atlantic. There are indications that Alex Ovechkin, Logan Couture, Niklas Backstrom and Anze Kopitar could be right behind while Pavel Datsyuk, who had reportedly been signed actually remains undecided.   (You can follow the post-lockout transactions here.)

    These signings occasionally get murky, confirmed then unconfirmed. The player and the team must agree on the money, the player has to be formally transferred by the IIHF (Nail Yakopov is having that problem) and there is also the matter of insurance and we’ll get into that below.

    What’s not murky is that while players wait for negotiators to reach an agreement, staying in shape is a priority. That’s why some choose to play in Europe. They can rent ice in North America and scrimmage with each other all they want, or practice with established clubs in their areas on a daily basis, but nothing takes the place of real games. For some, especially those who have families in North America, it’s not always an easy decision to pick up and go, so they may delay a Euro decision in hope that the sides reach an agreement sooner rather than later. But the longer this CBA stalemate goes on, the more those who remain here will consider going over.

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  • Published On Sep 18, 2012
  • Columbus loses on Nash deal? Not so fast

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    Rick Nash

    Rick Nash will boost the Rangers offense, but some say Columbus didn’t get enough value in return. (Reuters)

    By Stu Hackel

    There are two ways to evaluate any trade, as Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson reminded everyone on his conference call Monday following the deal that sent Columbus captain Rick Nash to the Rangers. “Any trade gets evaluated initially,” he said, “but the real evaluation comes after a year or two or three, after you see what everybody’s done in their current places.”

    Well, the immediate evaluation on the deal overwhelmingly criticized Howson for not getting more in return, a chorus that included my friend and SI.com colleague Adrian Dater and, strangely, the man whose own failures as the first Blue Jackets GM played a large role in their perpetual futility, Doug MacLean (via Twitter), who is now a hockey analyst in Canada.

    Of course it may turn out in a few years that the chorus was right and Howson’s deal of Nash, large minor league defenseman Steve Delisle and a conditional third-round selection for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round selection in 2013 turns out poorly for Columbus. But we can’t know that yet.  And many of the instant analysts have overlooked some other things when assessing this deal.

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  • Published On Jul 24, 2012
  • Bull’s-eyes drawn in secondary trade, free agent markets

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    By Stu Hackel

    Lazy, hazy and crazy are good words to describe this NHL summer so far. After the crazy free agent business we surveyed on Thursday, completed transactions have slowed to a lazier pace as the players on the market and the clubs in need evaluate their potential moves. Meanwhile, the trade scene has turned hazy — it usually is when rumors fly.

    But now that the top names in free agency are gone, the biggest trade targets are getting more attention from frantic clubs that were spurned by the likes of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, as are the remaining free agents. So which players, in what Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli calls the “secondary market,” have the biggest targets on their backs?

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  • Published On Jul 06, 2012
  • Suter, Parise signings will echo

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    It’s ironic that the Predators lost Ryan Suter and may be unable to keep his star defense partner Shea Weber (right) at a time when tight finances are no longer a big issue for the franchise. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The earth didn’t exactly shake and the sun didn’t rise in the West, but something pretty unusual has transpired since the opening of free agency on July 1. None of the NHL’s high profile, high revenue clubs made off with the best players available.

    We’d all become conditioned to the big clubs getting the big names. The list always begins with hockey’s premier franchises — the Original Six, plus the Penguins, Flyers, Canucks, Sharks, Stars and maybe one or two others. As Billie Holiday wrote and sang long ago, “Them that’s got shall get, Them that’s not shall lose,” a colloquial way of saying the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It’s pretty much true in life and that’s how we expect it to go down in the NHL, too.

    But here are Zach Parise and Ryan Suter dressed not in the sweaters of the Penguins or Red Wings or Blackhawks, but the Minnesota Wild! Add the Oilers’ signing of college defenseman Justin Schultz, a Western Canadian product hotly pursued by numerous NHL clubs once his draft rights with Anaheim expired. And, on Wednesday night, the Lightning joined the party by inking former Flyer Matt Carle who, right after Suter, was in the next tier of ardently sought d-men with Schultz and Jason Garrison.

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  • Published On Jul 05, 2012
  • Draft trades just the beginning?

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    Jordean Staal’s desire to play with brother Eric (right) set the stage for an intriguing free agent season. (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL barged into its offseason with an Entry Draft weekend marked as much by what didn’t happened as what didn’t. What follows, in short order, will be NHLPA meetings early this week, then perhaps the first session of collective bargaining between the players and owners, followed by the opening of free agency on July 1.

    While the draft didn’t evolve into the wholesale swap-meet that some expected (and we chronicled many of the rumors here, here and here), a few significant deals did go down, whetting appetites for what may ensue when the free agents hit the market and the clubs that don’t sign their own look elsewhere to fill holes. Thus the rumors will continue.

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  • Published On Jun 25, 2012


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