The Blue Jackets have traded the organization’s only “franchise” player, fulfilling captain Rick Nash’s trade request by sending him to the New York Rangers for three players and a first-round draft pick.
In exchange for Nash, the Blue Jackets have acquired forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round pick, according to TSN. The Blue Jackets also send a third-round pick and a minor-league defenseman to the Rangers, The Dispatch has confirmed.
So ends a saga that began in January, when Nash requested a trade, he said, after being informed by Blue Jackets management that they planned to “rebuild” the franchise, a process that can take several seasons. Management has since changed course, saying they are “reshaping” with the hope of being competitive in 2012-13.
Even though the likelihood of a Nash trade has percolated for months now, it’s a staggering day for one of the most wayward organizations in professional sports.
Nash’s career with the Blue Jackets ends 10 years after they made him the No. 1 overall selection in the 2002 NHL Draft. It ends three years to the day since he signed an eight-year, $62.4 million contract extension, a contract he hoped would allow him to spend the rest of his career as a Blue Jacket, and the club hoped would help attract some of the NHL’s most talented players to Columbus. Just weeks earlier, the Blue Jackets had celebrated their first Stanley Cup playoffs berth.
How quickly the landscape shifted, though. The past three seasons were much like the first five of Nash’s career -- the Blue Jackets didn’t come close to making the playoffs.
Nash owns the Blue Jackets record book, leaving as the franchise record-holder in games (674), goals (289), assists (258), points (547), game-winning goals (44) and hat tricks (five). Those are just the major categories.
Along the way, he thrilled fans, mostly with his goals-scoring exploits.
In 2003-04, at 19 years old and in his second pro season, Nash scored 41 goals, becoming the youngest player in NHL history to share the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals.
Midway through the 2007-08 season, Nash scored the “highlight” goal of his career, slicing and weaving through a melange of Phoenix Coyotes’ defensemen to score a game-winning goal in the final minute of the game.
Late in the 2008-09 season, Nash scored the most meaningful goal of his career. With 5:30 to play in Chicago, he scored to send the game to overtime, earning the point the Blue Jackets needed to clinch the franchise’s first and only playoff berth.
Nash is one of only four players -- Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin are the others -- to have scored at least 30 goals in each of the past five seasons.
Sadly, though, Nash’s run with the Blue Jackets will be remembered for his personal success and the team’s struggles.
Nash played in more All-Star Games (five) than Stanley Cup playoff games (four) during his time in Columbus. The only time the Jackets made the playoffs was in 2008-09, when they were swept in four games -- without ever having a lead -- by Detroit.