- Last Updated: 9:13 AM, July 26, 2012
- Posted: 2:03 AM, July 26, 2012
Rick Nash thinks he knows pressure, thinks he knows expectations, thinks he knows what it can be like in a big market.
The newest Ranger said as much Wednesday, standing in front of the three hanging Rangers’ sweaters that will sit on his back this coming season with a weight like he’s never felt before.
“I think I’ll embrace it great,” Nash said at the MSG Training Facility in Westchester. “In 2010, I had the most pressure on me ever in the [Vancouver] Olympics being in our home country.
“I feel like hockey is truly a passion here [in New York] where they expect a championship-caliber team, and I think they’ve done everything they can as an organization to put that together.”
The 28-year-old, who on Monday was pried from Columbus in a lopsided trade, hardly paused before saying, “I think pressure is a great thing if you use it in the right way.”
Getting Nash from Columbus to New York was a five-month ordeal that finished with the Blue Jackets receiving forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, defensive prospect Tim Erixon, and a first-round pick in next year’s draft. Nash was the consistent target for general manager Glen Sather since the February trade deadline, all in hopes of bolstering the offensive production of a team that found a way to win more on will than skill.
That style got the Rangers to an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Devils in six games after finishing the regular season with the second-best record in the NHL.
So with the addition of Nash, a five-time All Star and two-time 40-goal scorer, to say it’s officially Stanley Cup or bust is stating the obvious. Just as it would be to say the New York market is a far cry from the anonymity Nash experienced in Columbus.
“I think the big market is just a bonus that comes along with it,” Nash said. “Growing up around Toronto [Brampton, Ont.], it’s kind of what I’m used to for hockey. It was a bit of a change playing in Columbus. After being there for nine, 10 years, I think I’m looking forward to seeing all this.”
What he will get to see up close come the opening of training camp in September is the authoritative ways of coach John Tortorella, whom Nash said he spoke to on the phone soon after the trade went down.
“From my understanding, he’s very demanding and tough guy to play for, he really preaches hard work,” Nash said. “That’s what you expect from a coach, that’s what you want.”
What the coach and the fans will want most is offensive production equal to his $7.8 million price tag per year, which takes him through 2018. He will have to pick up the slack for leading goal-scorer Marian Gaborik, out until November after shoulder surgery, but Nash does have some familiarity with star center Brad Richards, with whom he played in the 2010 Olympics.
But for now, it’s all on Nash to show the pandering for him was worth it.
“I think every kid dreams about playing for an original six [team] in a big-time city,” Nash said. “I don’t think there’s a better place than New York for me.”
The Rangers announced their preseason schedule, which opens with two games against the Devils, Sept. 26 at Times Union Center in Albany, followed Sept. 28 at Prudential Center in Newark. Other highlights are a game against the Islanders on Oct. 4 at the Coliseum, a game against the Avalanche in Kansas City, Oct. 6, and the Kings in Los Angeles Oct. 8. The regular season opens in L.A. against the Kings on Oct. 12.