While it seems ages ago that he was traded to the New York Rangers, Rick Nash makes his return to Columbus tonight for the first time since the July 2012 trade that sent the star forward to New York in exchange for Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, and Tim Erixon. Getting in the way of Nash’s homecoming was the lockout shortened season and a revised schedule that did not have the East playing the West, as well as Nash being out earlier this season due to a concussion.
Tonight has me feeling some conflicting emotions as a Blue Jackets fan. The trade has paid off for both teams; especially the Blue Jackets. Dubinsky and Anisimov have become integral parts of the club’s rebuild. Dubinsky has taken on a leadership role in the locker room and has quickly become a fan favorite. Anisimov exhibits some of the offensive flourishes Nash had, and Dubinsky has the qualities of a leader that Nash was lacking. One the other hand, Nash did ask out.
There are still Blue Jackets fans who feel burned by Nash asking out of Columbus. I wonder what kind of reception these fans will give Nash tonight. There will likely be some sort of tribute video presented during the game, and I am sure it will get a warm reception from the fans. However, how will Rick Nash be treated the rest of the game? I am sure some fans will choose to boo him each time he touches the puck. Honestly, I cannot understand why.
The Nash trade is pretty much old news at this point. Both the Blue Jackets and Rangers are completely different teams than they were two years ago. The Blue Jackets front office that facilitated the trade are no longer with the team. Yes, Nash asked out and “jumped ship”, but the team has benefited greatly from the trade.
Nash has also had nothing but nice things to say about Columbus since the trade. The entire trade process was a mess, yet once he got to New York, Nash never aired out his dirty laundry and trashed the team, city, or the fans (unlike Derick Brassard).
I fear if a sea of boos rains down on Nash, Columbus fans end up looking no better than Cleveland fans who still boo LeBron. What’s the classic line from Forgetting Sarah Marshall?…”It’s like the Sopranos, it’s over…find a new show”.