There’ll be plenty of emotions running through Nationwide Arena on Thursday.
That’s because the Blue Jackets and Rangers — who have combined for two blockbuster deals over the last two years — will square off in calendar-circling affair for a number of individuals.
“You can’t say it’s just another game,” said Columbus’ Marian Gaborik, acquired from New York at last year’s trade deadline. “All that other stuff is fine — we have relationships with people, with the other teams, some of us — but we’re in a situation right now where we’re desperate for wins.”
Here’s a full rundown of the history between the two:
New York Rangers
— Rick Nash was Columbus’ long-time captain and remains the all-time leader in a number of statistical categories, but will not play tonight due to a concussion.
— Derick Brassard was drafted sixth overall by Columbus in 2006 and played over 300 games for the Jackets.
— Derek Dorsett was taken 189th overall in that same draft year, and went on to serve as Columbus’ assistant captain.
— John Moore was the Jackets’ first-round pick in 2009.
— Anton Stralman played 124 games with the Jackets between 2009-11, scoring a career-high 34 points in ’09-10.
— Associate coach Scott Arniel’s first and only NHL head coaching job was with Columbus from 2010-12.
Columbus Blue Jackets
— Gaborik signed a massive five-year, $37.5 million deal with the Rangers in 2009 and recorded two 40-goal seasons.
— Brandon Dubinsky played six seasons in New York, appearing in nearly 400 regular season games.
— Artem Anisimov was drafted by the Rangers in 2006 and had his best year as a pro (18G, 44PTS) in 2010-11.
— Fedor Tyutin began his NHL career with New York in 2003 and played four seasons with the club.
While some of the players listed above have faced their former mates already, this will be the first game back in Columbus for Brassard, Dorsett, Moore, Stralman and Arniel.
The man who took over behind the Columbus bench for Arniel, Todd Richards, isn’t exactly sure how the evening will play out.
“It had to come to this point eventually. It’s like running into your old girlfriend on the street,” Richards explained. “You’re probably not looking forward to the first time, but it’s got to happen. I don’t know if it’s expectations about how that first meeting is going to go.
“Sometimes there’s anxiety and nerves there, but once you get past it, it’s just hockey.”