Rick Nash eager to show he can handle pressure of playing in New York
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Before returning to his offseason home in the lake country of Muskoka, Ontario, about two hours north of Toronto, Rick Nash is spending the next few days savoring his first real taste of Manhattan.
The 28-year-old isn't familiar with Soho or the Upper West Side, where many of his new teammates live. While captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team faced the Rangers only a handful of times over the past decade, and it was fly in, play and leave.
So Nash, a low-key, high-scoring forward who was acquired in the biggest trade of the NHL offseason, isn't familiar with the pulse, the pace, or the pressure to which athletes in the New York area must adjust.
Doesn't seem to bother him a bit.
"In 2010, I had the most pressure on me whatsoever with the Olympics being in our home country," he said Wednesday.
That worked out fairly well: Nash scored two goals and five points in seven games as Team Canada won the gold medal. In 2008, he posted 13 points in nine games as Team Canada won the silver medal in the World Championships and 11 points in nine games when the Canadiens captured the gold in the 2007 Worlds.
"Pressure is a great thing if you use it in the right way," Nash said before a youth camp at the Rangers' training center. "The big market is just a bonus, it comes along with it. Growing up in and around Toronto, this is kind of what I'm used to for hockey and it was a bit of a change playing in Columbus. After playing there nine, 10 years, I think I'm looking forward to all of this."
To be sure, looking behind is a little painful. Constant rebuilds in Columbus, four playoff games in nine NHL seasons -- he spent one year in Switzerland during the lockout -- and a long road to the exit door after general manager Scott Howson agreed to trade him halfway through last season.
"I wanted to play someplace I wanted to be and this was my No. 1 priority," said Nash, who had been training in Columbus with teammates, including former Ranger Vinny Prospal. "If had to wait all summer to come here, I would.
"Vinny just texted me an hour ago," he said. "He loved it here, he said one of the best parts of his career was playing here and he loves Torts [John Tortorella]. From what I understand he's a very demanding and tough guy to play for and he really preaches hard work. That's what you expect from a coach, that's what you want."
On the road again. For the second consecutive year, the Rangers will play their preseason on the road while work continues at the Garden. The six-game schedule: Sept. 26 vs. the Devils in Albany, 7 p.m.; Sept. 28 vs. the Devils in Newark, 7 p.m.; Sept. 29 vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m.; Oct. 4 vs. the Islanders, 7 p.m.; Oct. 6 vs. Colorado in Kansas City, 8 p.m., and Oct. 8 vs. Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.