Rick Nash was the first player on the New York Rangers to make the exodus overseas to play hockey for a league that isn't currently locking out its players. And in his first game for HC Davos, Nash lit up the scoreboard, scoring a hat trick in the first period and adding an assist for a four-point game.
The Swiss league, where Nash currently resides, doesn't have the talent of the NHL, KHL or SEL. So Nash rocking in his first game isn't a surprise. The level he played at might have been a bit of a shock (it was his first organized game of hockey all year, so some rust would have been unexpected) but he brought it in his first game.
Nash made it clear before he left why he traveled overseas. He wanted to hit the ground running for the Rangers if and when the NHL lockout ended. In his mind the best way to do that was to actually play hockey.
Which begs the question: Should more Rangers head overseas?
Obviously Nash's performance was a single game, which is a remarkably small sample size. But this isn't about the numbers players put up, the goals, assists or even how well they play. It's just important that they play.
You're not going to get that type of experience through informal practices. I debated this point already last week, but it's resonating even more now that Nash is overseas and playing. If this lockout extends, even if it just extends a month or so, players who aren't overseas playing hockey are going to be a step behind those that were.
That might be why you've seen rumors that Henrik Lundqvist and Carl Hagelin will head overseas if the SEL loses its appeal to refuse to allow NHL players to sign "lockout contracts" (contracts that have an out clause if the NHL and the NHLPA agree to a new CBA).
And, say the lockout lasts until January, or it doesn't end this year at all, then these games played overseas might just become invaluable for the future. Remember, the high-level NHL talent will have no problem going to different leagues and different teams. But a majority of the mid-level players aren't going to have that luxury. So at the end of this lockout, these games overseas might be invaluable.
So should more Rangers look to that as an option?
The floor is yours.