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Thursday, March 20, 2014
Nash: It'll be a 'special' night in Columbus

By Katie Strang

Rick Nash
Rich Nash returns to Columbus to take on his former team Friday night.
First Matt Moulson's well-received return to Long Island, next Zach Parise's long-anticipated trip back to New Jersey and on Friday, Rick Nash will face his former Blue Jackets team in Columbus for the first time since a franchise-changing blockbuster deal in the summer of 2012.

It's been a week of returns for beloved players coming back to the city of their former franchises, and though it has been almost two years since Nash last played for Columbus, it promises to be an emotional game.

“How many games did I play for Columbus, 680?” said Nash, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “I was the face of the franchise, the first overall pick, the captain. I’d be lying to myself if I said it would be like any other game. It’s definitely going to be a special night.”

Nash, selected by the Blue Jackets first overall in the 2002 NHL draft, spent nine seasons with the team before departing for Broadway, a deal that was months in the making after Nash asked out of Columbus prior to the 2012 trade deadline. He wasn't dealt then but arrived in New York the following summer. It was a transition that Nash wished had been more graceful.

“I have no regrets,” Nash told the Dispatch. “I only wish it would have been a smoother exit than how it all went down. I do wish that. I thought it wasn’t done properly. I thought it could have been done a lot better."

According to the Dispatch, the Blue Jackets are planning to honor Nash on his return with a video tribute during the first period, the prospect of which has Nash excited.

“It’s going to be one of those major moments that I’ll never forget,” Nash said, according to the Dispatch. “If they do something like that, it’ll be fun to reminisce, see how they put all the memories and the years together.”

Nash has 22 goals and 34 points for the Rangers this season; the 6-foot-4, 213-pound forward snapped a five-game drought with a two-goal performance in the Rangers' 8-4 win over Ottawa on Tuesday night. And while Nash may have a few spare moments to get nostalgic, once the puck drops, any fond feelings for his former team will quickly abate.

Entering Thursday night's action, the Blue Jackets trailed the Rangers by only two points in the Eastern Conference standings, with the chance to pass them for the third spot in the Metropolitan Division with a win in Montreal.

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New York Rangers fans may find this of interest: Former defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who was traded to Nashville earlier this season for veteran blue-liner Kevin Klein, was scratched for Wednesday's game against the Vancouver Canucks. Del Zotto, once regarded as one of the Rangers' top defensive prospects in the pipeline, quickly fell out of favor with Rangers coach Alain Vigneualt. Seems as if he is finding himself in the dog house again, this time with Predators coach Barry Trotz.

"His game has slipped, and our coaching staff has talked to him about making solid decisions, solid plays and he has gotten away from that a little bit," Trotz said, according to The Tennessean. "We had some healthy people and we felt this would be a good time."

Looks as if the Rangers got the better end of that trade, with Klein proving himself a valuable addition to the team's blue line.