It’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since Columbus traded Rick Nash to the Rangers but, thanks to injuries and a lengthy work stoppage, Nash has never gone up against his former club.
Until tomorrow, that is.
The Rangers, mired in a losing streak to start their franchise-record homestand, will host the Jackets on Thursday at MSG, marking the first time Nash will meet Columbus — the organization that drafted him first overall in 2002, then signed him to a $62.4 million deal — since being shipped to Broadway in June 2012.
“It’ll be fun, but I think I only know one guy, maybe two or three guys that I played with,” Nash told the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s a totally different team. More importantly we have to win games here.
“We’re worried about the Rangers and not other things.”
The Jackets and Rangers already had one “reunion night” in early November, sans Nash (who was out with a concussion) — a 4-2 New York victory in Columbus that marked the first time Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, Anton Stralman and Scott Arniel returned to Nationwide.
As you may know, there’s a lot of links between the Jackets and Rangers. Here’s a full rundown of the history:
New York Rangers
– Nash was Columbus’ long-time captain and remains the all-time leader in a number of statistical categories.
– Brassard was drafted sixth overall by Columbus in 2006 and played over 300 games for the Jackets.
– Dorsett was taken 189th overall in that same draft year, and went on to serve as Columbus’ assistant captain.
– Moore was the Jackets’ first-round pick in 2009.
– Stralman played 124 games with the Jackets between 2009-11, scoring a career-high 34 points in ’09-10.
– Arniel’s first and only NHL head coaching job was with Columbus from 2010-12.
Columbus Blue Jackets
– Marian 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.
In discussing that November game, Jackets head coach Todd Richards said the affair had a very odd vibe to it.
“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.”