Monday cultured up some of our first tidbits of New York Rangers news, when Rick Nash signed a contract to play overseas for HC Davos. The news was met with anger by some, and understanding by others.
But the negative reaction proved something. Sometimes, some players never win.
There are people who are blasting Nash for leaving while most of his teammates have yet to bolt for paying leagues across the pond. Not that it's about the money, of course, for a player like Nash the salary he'll be pulling in with Davos is akin to the money he can find between his couch cushions. He's doing it for the experience.
You can't develop chemistry on a rented sheet of ice, screwing around with teammates in a non-game atmosphere. Even if there are rented officials. You gain chemistry from games. Not training camp (although the drills and atmosphere yield more chemistry than an unofficial practice) or from informal skates. If you truly do believe that chemistry is forged through those other outlets, then why did it take so long for Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards to click - or for John Tortorella and the brass to realize they didn't click early on?
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It's because you need a game. You need to play against players who are trying to win games, who want to smash you into the boards and who want to run all over you.
Simply put, people who hate Nash's decision to play overseas are looking for reasons to complain. There will be many people like this during this lockout for every team. Just ignore them. Remember, these are the same people who would be furious at Nash if he sustained an injury in a shortened season due to a prolonged period of not playing hockey. Sometimes you just can't win.
I, for one, would much rather see Nash playing competitive games in a competitive atmosphere. Is it the NHL? No. Is it great competition? Not compared to the NHL. But it's something and it's a whole hell of a lot more than informal workouts.
Nash wants to stay in shape and be as sharp as possible for a potential return to the ice this season? My word. Let's nail him to the cross.
I prefer to look at this realistically. Yes, many Rangers are staying around and practicing with each other. Yes, it shows some form of team chemistry for the group to remain together. But is Nash going to get more out of actually playing games or skating in circles on rented ice? You know the answer to that question. If you don't, well, there's the problem.
Nash was never going to win this war. His expectations are higher. Out of everyone on the Rangers, it's his performance that's going to be dissected from shift to shift. More so than Henrik Lundqvist, more so than Ryan Callahan, more so than Marian Gaborik or even Michael Del Zotto.
So Nash knows what he has to do. He's in a huge market, with a vicious media and a ferocious fan base. How do you best appease them all? You come out of the gates guns blazing. How do you best do that? By staying in shape and mentally sharp by playing in a professional hockey league that actually seems interested on keeping its players on the ice, not off of it.
That's what Nash is doing. To some, it's a sign that he's already not going to work out. But that's OK. Those are generally the people who complain just to complain.
There's a lot of them out there. Thankfully Nash isn't listening.