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Nash: Day 1 'full of excitement'

1/13/2013

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rick Nash finally got to work with his "perfect" team.

The Rangers opened up camp on Sunday -- and their biggest offseason acquisition had his first official practice.

"It's exciting to finally be out there together officially and start gaining more chemistry than we had before," Nash said. "It was a day full of excitement."

After their offense came up short in the postseason, the Rangers looked to upgrade. They set their eyes on Nash, viewing him as the missing piece. The Rangers acquired Nash on July 23 for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick. While they had to give up a big haul, the Blueshirts felt that bringing the former Blue Jackets star to the Big Apple was too good to resist.

Nash agreed. "In finding a team, I just thought the Rangers were perfect," Nash told reporters this past summer. "I think they have an amazing team already. Last season they were obviously one of the best teams, and I think it was just a great fit for my style and for me to play there."

Nash isn't a prolific scorer, with just one season of more than 70 points, but he should benefit from playing with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik -- and that pair should benefit from playing with him. Nash tallied 30 goals and 29 assists last season for a terrible Columbus team, which would have been the second-most goals and the fifth-most assists on the Rangers.

He said the pace was extremely high in practice, and his new coach, John Tortorella, praised him.

"He's a hell of a player," Tortorella said. "We like the way he uses his body. We gave up some pretty good people to get him. We wish those people the best, but we're very happy he's with the New York Rangers organization."

GOING EASY: During the first few days of training camp, the Rangers usually do not touch pucks, instead going through a grueling conditioning program. With the season opener just five days away, though, Tortorella couldn't do that. The Rangers instead had essentially a normal practice Sunday.

"We don't want to injure them. If we did the amount of work we did in a regular camp in our first day today, we wouldn't be able to play," Tortorella said. "I'm relying on the players, the leadership group, to let me know each day how they feel. It's a different dynamic this year."

While the Rangers have been practicing on their own and doing conditioning leading up to Sunday, the team's energy dipped as the day progressed.

"It was good at first; it tailed. It's to be expected," Tortorella said.

GABORIK OK: One of the benefits on the lockout was the Rangers didn't have to play without Gaborik, who was recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. Gaborik said Sunday he feels good.

Tortorella praised Gaborik for his development during his time in New York. The forward led the Rangers with 76 points last season.

"He's skating very well," Tortorella said. "From the first day he's come here to now what he is, he has changed. He's always on the ice. I remember the first year it was like pulling teeth to get him on the ice at certain times during practice. He had grown mentally and the year he had last year and the playoffs he had last year, going through the injury he had -- to me he's still growing as a player. He's still growing mentally. He has to be a huge part of it this year."

RICHARDS OUT: Richards missed the day with the flu.