May 12, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61) warms up before game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Should We Cheer or Jeer Rick Nash on His Return?

February 27th, 2012, a day that hundreds of thousands of Columbus fan’s hearts were broken, Scott Howson revealed to our entire fan base that Rick Nash wanted to be traded.

Many people blamed Howson, Some blamed Nash, and to this day I see our fans violently arguing on social media about how we should perceive Rick Nash after this whole ordeal. As it’s summer and we’re patiently waiting on hockey season(just kidding no one can patiently wait on hockey season), we often see old issues like this come up in fan discussions and with the release of the NHL schedule, we now know his first game back at Nationwide  is November 7th.

So it’s time to come to terms with our perception of Rick Nash. Howson is long gone, we’re a playoff contender with a new identity now, and the players we got for our Captain and all time leading scorer, are the core of this franchise now.

Let’s have a look at some things we can all agree on.

1. Rick Nash did do wonderful things in Columbus, and whether you believe he layed down on the team at the end or not, for a good majority of his career here, he was doing everything he could to win, and will hold a place on our All-Time leading scoring stats for a LONG time.

March 23, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Rick Nash (61) brings the puck into the zone as Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen (25) defends at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

2. There seems to be these people who refute that Nash requested trade and say, “He did not request a trade! He said if he can help out our team rebuild by being traded for valuable pieces he would!” Okay, throw that thought in the garbage, he had a major contract worth lots of money and a no trade clause…you don’t suggest moving ANYWHERE when your guaranteed tons of money and years with a NTC, unless you want to leave because you dislike the organization OR you want to have a shot at a Cup somewhere else. And if you claim to be trying to help this team out you don’t hogtie them by your NTC to being traded exactly where YOU want(not saying he was wrong by using his NTC, it was in his contract, just saying he was not trying to help our Organization more than he was trying to help himself). No matter how bad it hurts he wanted to leave, blame who you want, but he wanted to leave.

3. Howson is not the  sole reason Nash wanted out. Lets face it, most of us think Scott Howson is a moron. Telling all the media that Nash wanted out of Columbus was trashy and unprofessional, you always respect player privacy. A lot of why Nash wanted to leave was wanting to contend for a Cup, you can blame Howson for not making us a Cup contender but you can also blame 25 other GMs  for not having a Cup contender in the last 4-5 years. While Howson did make some horrible decisions as our GM, he at least attempted to bring Carter here and give Nash some star power to work with. He also brought Jack Johnson, Nikita Nikitin, James Wisniewski, and Fedor Tyutin here.

Mar 14, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov (42) celebrates after scoring in the shootout agianst the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blackhawks won 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

To help us move on from Nash he brought Sergei Bobrovsky, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, and that 1st Round pick that became Kerby Rychel here. He also hired Richards full time as Head Coach. Now you can say this was all Craig Patrick, or all someone else before we hired Patrick, but Howson had a hand in it, he was the GM after all. These trades and signings most likely helped him find his job in the Oilers Organization. Howson also did an excellent job of bringing quality return in the Nash trade, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon and a 1st rounder, isn’t a bad return when your last in the league, and your star Captain’s got you hog tied with a NTC. With that being said, Howson was still responsible for A LOT of negatives here and needed to be fired, the management now under John Davidson, is far better than we’ve ever had.

4.Rick Nash is part of our past and for once our future really does look bright, while we should come to terms with respecting what he did here or shaming him for leaving , one thing is for sure now. He is a New York Ranger and a division rival now. We don’t have to hate him, but the past is the past and the future says beat him on the ice. Many people started following the Rangers in our fan base after the trade, not saying you can’t do that, but remember, every Ranger win hurts our playoff chances. They’re a darn good team, respect him or hate him, he is a rival now.

5. Rick Nash’s positive legacy is what we will probably remember in 20 years. With being such a young franchise, Rick Nash was a star when we had few stars, and whether you love him and agree, or whether you hate him and disagree, there is a good chance #61 will be hanging from our rafters one day.

So my conclusion? I’m going to treat Rick Nash like a New York Ranger, because right now that’s what he is. I’m going to cheer for what he gave to this franchise, and I’m going to boo him for leaving it and being a Ranger. So when you go to a Jackets Vs. Rangers game, when they introduce the line ups or when Nash takes the ice, the fans that are booing him while you cheer for him, they’re not wrong to do so, and the fans that are cheering for him while you boo him, they’re also not wrong to do so. The only thing wrong, is to love one man more than this entire franchise, this is a great organization headed in the right direction. Don’t forget his legacy here, but also don’t forget he’s the enemy now. Twenty years from now if they hoist his jersey up in Nationwide, I’ll remember what he did for this franchise and cheer for him again, but I hope next to or across from that jersey, there’s multiple Metropolitan Division Champion Banners and Stanley Cup Banners. And I hope that there is not a single Metropolitan Division Champion Banner hanging in Madison Square Garden or another Stanley Cup banner added to Madison Square Garden.

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