Rangers head coach John Tortorella has been enjoying a summer of solitude with his family, though he admitted in a phone conversation with me on Thursday that hockey is never far from his mind. And to that end he was more than happy to have his peaceful off-season shaken up a bit with the news that the team had acquired star forward Rick Nash in a trade with Columbus several weeks ago.
"In Nash you are bringing in one of the top power forwards in the National Hockey League," said Tortorella. "We're very excited to have picked up a player that we think is just going to bust out and get to the next level of his career coming to the Rangers."
That component---in which Torts believes Nash still has another level to reach in his play and his career---is not to be underestimated in the overall importance of this acquisition. Nash is a two-time 40-goal scorer, a Rocket Richard Award winner, a Gold Medal Olympian, a five-time all star, and has scored 30 or more goals in seven of his nine NHL seasons.
Yet the Rangers coach is confident there is much more for Nash to achieve. And best of all, accoring to Torts, he believes Nash hungers to reach that next level, on an individual level and a team level.
"We did some homework on Nash---(Brad Richards) knows him a little bit, I talked to other players in the league and to coaches that have coached him---and it is the right fit," explained Tortorella, who is set to enter his fourth full season as the Blueshirts bench boss. "And it is the right time of his career to be here. I think he has the hunger to get there and become that go-to guy in the playoffs."
Though he has never coached Nash before, and has spoken to him only once, Torts is confident in everything he told me about Nash on Thursday. And he can't wait for Nash to quickly assimilate in the Rangers locker room and the team's way of doing things---what team captain Ryan Callahan referred to all last season as "the right way".
"The thing I like about Nash---and I haven't even met him face to face---in one conversation with him, he's all business," said the no-nonsense Tortorella. "And everyone I have talked to about him says he's not a real high-maintenance guy, wants to play hard, wants to play every day and practice every day. I think we have him at a really good time in his career, and I think he's going to fit in with us tremendously."
"He's straight-ahead and he's all-business."
---Jim Cerny, August 16, 2012
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