Nash a Major Impact On, Off Ice
With only one year remaining on his five-year, $27 million dollar contract, the Columbus Blue Jackets will be looking to resign captain and NHL all-star Rick Nash come July 1. Nash is the face of the franchise in Columbus and was the primary building block for the current team.
Nash was drafted number one overall back in 2002 when the club decided to trade up to the first spot in order to obtain the Ontario native. He has been reminding Jackets management why they selected him ever since.
Nash has been a star since the moment he put on the Jackets sweater. In his NHL debut on October 10, 2002, Nash scored a goal in a 2-1 win over Chicago and went on to make the NHL All-Rookie team at the conclusion of the ’02-’03 season. In only his second year, Nash tied Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk for the league lead with 41 goals and, along with the other two, was awarded the Rocket Richard Trophy as the leagues most prolific goal scorer. At a mere 19 years of age, Nash was the youngest player to lead the league in goals.
After scoring what many commentators called “the goal of the year” on January 17, 2008 vs. Phoenix, Nash went on to sore three goals in the 2008 All-Star Game including the fastest goal in all-star history only twelve seconds into play. On March 7th, 2009, Nash recorded an unassisted hat trick in an 8-2 rout of the Detroit Red Wings in Joe Louis Arena. It was the first time a player recorded three unassisted goals in one game since Maurice “Rocket” Richard scored 4 back in 1948.
In only six NHL seasons, Nash has scored 194 goals, and recorded 161 assists for a total of 355 points. He is also a four time NHL all-star and was named MVP at the 2007 World Championships with team Canada in Moscow.
Although his impact on the ice is undeniable, his impact off the ice is even greater. At the NHL awards last week, Nash was named 2008-09 NHL Foundation Player of the Year. An award that is presented annually to a player “in recognition of his commitment and service to charities in his community.”
Since his arrival in Columbus, Rick Nash has always been one of the most active Blue Jackets in the community. Nash established the #61 club, which according to bluejackets.com encourages kids to make good choices and develop healthy habits and rewards those that do. “Through the #61 Club Good Health Challenge, he provides more than 30 tickets to every Blue Jackets home game to students who make 61 healthy choices in a month.”
Nash also gave $100,000 to The Ohio State University Athletics Department to finance a student-athlete scholarship and donated $25,000 to the John H. McConnell Scholarship Fund in memory of the Jackets founder.
“Being a professional hockey player is a privilege and I am extremely fortunate, as it has afforded me many opportunities to give back. I am honored to be this year’s recipient of the NHL Foundation Player Award and am grateful that this honor will directly benefit the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, the John H. McConnell Scholarship Fund, Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation and the Pelotonia Tour,” said Nash.
Nash also donates $15,000 annually to Santa’s Silent Helpers, an organization that provides holiday meals and gifts for 350-400 central Ohio families experiencing financial difficulties. These are just a few of the charitable works Nash has done since becoming a Blue Jacket.
In his honor, the NHL has pledged to donate $25,000 to the charitable organization of Nash’s choice.