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New York Rangers forward Rick Nash talks to Long Island kids

New York Rangers player Rick Nash with Kidsday

New York Rangers player Rick Nash with Kidsday reporters from left, Nicholas Cinelli, Matthew Verby Justin Ronzoni and Conner Frank Photo Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We met New York Rangers forward Rick Nash at the NHL store in Manhattan recently. Rick was promoting all the great National Hockey League Playmobil toys, and we even got to play a few games with him.

Did these action figures inspire you to do more exercises during the off season?

For sure. And now, come here to play with these things. I remember, growing up, you guys might play a little bit of video games and stuff now and have your phones. When I was growing up, it was all road hockey and playing bubble hockey. So this guy brings me back to my childhood.

How does it feel to have an NHL action figure that kids could play with? And do you think the action figure looks like you?

I think it does a little bit. It’s cool to have the action figure after me. Because I remember growing up playing with action figures like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux. Now seeing kids playing with my action figure is really cool.

Do you like being in the NHL?

I’m living my dream. It’s my job. I get to play hockey for work. Ever since I was you guys’ age, that’s all I wanted to do and that was my dream. So I’m pretty lucky to be in this spot.

Who do you think is the hardest NHL team to beat?

I would have to say Chicago right now. They won the Stanley Cup last year. They’re a good team.

How does it feel to play against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Columbus since you got traded?

It’s really strange. I spent almost 10 years in Columbus playing for them. And being the captain for five years. It’s really awkward. It just feels weird going back there playing. It’s just a weird situation.

What’s the hardest part of playing hockey?

I would have to say skating and stick-handling the puck at the same time while you’re skating and shooting. Every other sport, you get to be on your feet in shoes. In hockey you have to wear skates. I think that’s the hardest part.

Where does your game need improvement?

Good question. I would have to say my shot. My shot could be harder and it could be a bit better and I worked on it a lot during the summer to make it better.

What do you do during the off season?

This year I spent a little bit of time at the lake on the water and I worked out every day. I skate on the ice about two times a week. I’m trying to keep all my skills sharp and stay in shape. Spend a lot of time with family that I don’t get to see when I’m here in New York playing.

What is your favorite hobby?

I love golf. I love to watch golf. Up at the lake I like to boat a little. Go with my family, and that’s another big one. I don’t know if I consider it a hobby, but I love spending time with my family and friends as well.

Since you got to grow up in the country of Canada, how is the hockey atmosphere different than the United States?

Yeah, it depends where you are in the United States. I feel New York is a lot like Canada, where hockey is No. 1. Rangers fans are passionate. They love their hockey. But compared to some other hockey cities or some other cities in the U.S., where football is No. l or baseball is No. 1. It’s tough to compare, because all over Canada, that’s all that people really care about, is hockey.

Do you ever get nervous on the ice with thousands of fans watching? If so how do you stay calm?

Good question. Yeah, I get nervous before every game still. I think I get nervous because I want to do my best. I want to do my best for my teammates. I want to do my best for the organization, my family and mostly for the fans. That doesn’t happen all the time. It’s just the way it goes. You always have the butterflies in your stomach.

What do you want to do when you retire?

It’s scary. Hockey is such a short shelf life. Most guys can only play for six to 12 years. Then they have a whole life to live after that. I’m sure when I leave the game, do some kind of scouting, coaching or something like that.

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