Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rick Nash Jersey Card

In perhaps an unprecedented move on Sunday, New York Rangers forward Rick Nash left the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the third period to be with his wife, who was expected to give birth. Her water had broken in the afternoon, and Nash had been questionable to even dress for the game, which ended up being a blow-out loss.

I like the values of hockey players and hockey teams: family comes first. It's how a team works best, because then the work group becomes an extended family, and stick together through thick and thin. And it keeps guys grounded, which makes their interactions with fans easier as well.

The only thing I found weird about a player leaving at two-thirds of a game is, essentially, it's akin to giving up. A three-goal lead is surmountable - particularly against the lowly Leafs defense - and Nash is a capable scorer. He'd scored in that game, and is off to a fine start this season with 4 goals and an assist through three games so far.

Of course, Nash having won the Rocket Richard Trophy in just his second NHL season with 41 goals - his career high - in 2003-04 might have put unfair expectations on him. He scored 26 in 65 games last year, so 30 isn't out of the question, and the five-time All-Star has attained it 7 times in 11 seasons so far. He never has too many assists (never reached 40 in a single season) and thus has only flirted with the point-per-game plateau three times, but in his defense, he did spend most of his career as the only legitimate first-line forward with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

I don't think I ever would have built a team around the 6'4'', 213-pound gentle giant, but as an add-on to an already solid line-up, he can definitely be put in a position where he will enjoy success, as can be attested by his resume with Team Canada internationally: three gold medals (2007 World Championships, 2010 and 2014 Olympics), and three silver (2002 World Juniors, 2005 and 2008 World Championships). He had a goal and 2 assists in 7 games with the Junior team, and has 26 goals and 54 points in 60 games with the men's teams.

He hasn't enjoyed so much success as a team leader, though, having captained the Jackets in tough times, and Canada to a fifth-place finish at the 2011 Worlds.

Despite his size, he plays more of a skilled game than as a power forward. He's quick and has deft hands, and his deking abilities are phenomenal. He also has less than a penalty minute per game in his career.

So when I pulled this card from a pack of Upper Deck's 2013-14 SPX (card #WM-RN of the Winning Materials sub-set), I had mixed feelings: I do consider him a star player of high caliber, but just a notch below elite and ''superstar'' status; I don't think he has much trade value out there, and would maybe have preferred a more ''common'' player from one of my favourite teams instead. Still, it's a nice card:
It shows him wearing the Rangers' white (away) uniform, but both swatches are black. Because the back of the card specifies it was worn in a NHL game, I have to assume it's from the Blue Jackets' alternate uniform from the 2003-07 era, the only one he's worn that has black on it.

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