Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Captain Columbus

It’s an exciting time to be a Columbus Blue Jacket fan. Coming off the organ-i-zation’s first playoff appearance, the future looks downright shade-worthy. The CBJ have a core of explosive young forwards in Derick Brassard, Jake Voracek, Nikita Filatov, Antoine Vermette, Derek Dorsett, and Jared Boll. Columbus sports the reigning Calder Trophy winner in stud netminder Steve Mason. Solid character guys like R.J. Umberger, Jason Chimera, Raffi Torres, and Mike Commodore have made the CBJ locker room one where winning is paramount and the group comes first. Head Coach Ken Hitchcock has firmly put his stamp on the team, which has meant more wins, and I can go on and on (and maybe I will some time) about the savvy moves General Manager Scott Howson has made during his time at the helm. But in my book the most exciting thing about the franchise now and in the future is the Captain, Rick Nash.

When Nash signed an 8-year contract extension this past July, he told the city of Columbus and the rest of the NHL that this is where he wants to spend the prime of his career. At face value, the CBJ locked up a franchise winger capable of scoring highlight reel goals, but as a fan of the CBJ and lifelong Columbus resident the Nash signing was more than that to me.

The extension said, unlike the LeBron James, Nash wasn’t going to subject his teammates to a season of questions and speculation about his future so he could squeeze every last dollar out of the ‘market.’ He said he wanted to stay in Columbus and he meant it. Nash said he wanted to be a part of a group whose main goal is the winning the Stanley Cup and he wanted to be a part of Hitchcock’s system because it wins. Lesser men with his talent would’ve gone somewhere they wouldn’t have had to get their noses as dirty. Imagine that, an athlete who didn’t take an easy paycheck. Howson even divulged that Nasher had an offer on the table that made him more money per year, but Nash wanted to add at about half market value so the team had enough room to lock up other guys vital to the team’s success.

His contract extension is 8 years, $62.4 million so it’s not like he agreed to play for peanuts, but the reality is that he could’ve easily gotten at least 8 years and $80 million from Toronto when his current deal runs out at the end of the season. He put his money where his mouth is and made a commitment to Columbus. In a town that usually loses its’ biggest sports heroes in four years or less, it’s a great feeling to know that Columbus has a guy for the long haul the city can be proud of off the ice and is one of the best in the world on it.

I have two young sons who will be 13 and 10 when Nash’s contract is up after the 2017-2018 season. As a Dad, I can’t tell you how cool it is to know that they will grow up watching a hometown superstar who handles himself with class and dignity.

As a fan, I can’t tell you how cool it is to have a guy for the next nine years who can do this:

Or this:

Or even this:

Back to you, Cotton.

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