Rick Nash mum about trade talks
The prized 27-year-old winger was reportedly placed on the trading block earlier this week by the last-place Blue Jackets, who were in town to play the Rangers at Madison Square Garden Sunday, but Nash provided little insight on where he will wind up when the NHL's trade deadline passes Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. ET.
"I just worry about today. Right now I'm a Blue Jacket and that's what matters," Nash said before Sunday's game. "I've played my whole career here, and I'm dealing with a game I have to play in two hours, so that's all I'm worrying about."
While the Rangers may be interested in acquiring Nash, a contingent of fans at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night clearly feel otherwise.
The crowd taunted Nash with taunts of "We don't want you!" after the 27-year-old winger tallied the tying goal with 1:33 left in regulation to force the game in overtime.
After the game, Nash laughed off the razzing and seemed unfazed by the fans' serenade.
"I mean, that's the reception you're going to get in any building if you score in the last minute to tie it up on the road," Nash answered good-naturedly. "It was an exciting game and it was a tough one. We were lucky to get one point."
Ultimately, Garden faithful went home happy after Derek Stepan notched the game-winner 22 seconds into the overtime for the 3-2 win. But they may have to change their tune soon.
After the game, Nash was complimentary of the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers, who improved to 38-14-5 with the overtime victory.
"They're a very good team," Nash said. "You can see why they're in first place."
Columbus general manager Scott Howson was in attendance for Sunday's match -- he watched the game with assistant GM Chris MacFarland from his seat in the auxiliary press box -- but it is unclear whether he sat down with Rangers GM Glen Sather while in New York.
Surrounded by a large media contingent before the game, Nash carefully sidestepped whether he'd like to remain a Blue Jacket or be dealt by the deadline.
"It's going to take care of itself. I'm a Blue Jacket right now," said Nash. "It's fun. We're playing great hockey, it's been fun to be around. It's been a tough year for us, but right now, when you're winning games ... it becomes a different game."
When asked whether the Rangers, perceived by many to be among the front-runners to land the franchise player, were on his "approved" list of teams to which he'd waive his no-movement clause and accept a trade, Nash replied: "No comment."
Nash offered the same refrain when asked if he could see himself playing for the Rangers, who are among a handful of teams in hot pursuit of the former first overall pick. Multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun that the Rangers, Kings, Leafs and Flyers have all held talks this week with Columbus regarding Nash.
Does Nash think about what it might be like to play at Madison Square Garden now that he's here with the trade deadline a little over a week away?
"No. You're in different buildings every night pretty much, so it's just another game," Nash said.
He did not seem fazed by the crush of reporters that swarmed him hours before the game, however.
"I'm fine," he said. "I played Olympics a couple of times for Canada so this is really nothing compared to that."
Fielding inquiries about his future, Nash did not reveal much but he did concede that the recent hype has been a "distraction" for the downtrodden Blue Jackets.
"It's been distracting for our team," said Nash, who entered play Sunday with 18 goals and 21 assists in 58 games for Columbus this season. "We've been playing great hockey, that's the important thing. We've been getting some wins and it's been fun."
The distractions are bound to multiply over the next eight days as teams jockey to land the star player, who is on the second year of an eight-year $62.4, million deal.
Howson met with Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke in Manhattan Sunday morning, Burke confirmed via email to ESPNNewYork.com.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPNNewYork.com.
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