This year, Playmobil launched an NHL Original Six series, with Rick Nash as their Rangers spokesman. Complete with ice, Zamboni, refs, and tiny Stanley Cup, the figures have been so successful that the line has now expanded to include twelve NHL teams. You can check them out here. Nash stopped by the Playmobil booth at the Javits Center Toy Fair yesterday, and we chatted for a few minutes about the season so far.
This place is amazing. Have you enjoyed working with Playmobil? Am I the 100th person to point out that Zucc seems like a more obvious choice?
For toys? (laughs)
Come on, it looks like him.
Yeah, I guess it does. It's been fun. Especially for me, I have a 16 month old son, and I'm someone who can interact with kids.
Does he make the connection between the figures and you?
He picks up the figurine and says "da-da."
That's pretty cool.
Yeah, we don't give him the puck yet. He loves the goalies, and he loves the Zamboni the most.
How are you feeling? Is there a timeline for your return?
Hopefully soon. I'm going to try skating next week, and then we'll see where we're at, if I've made some progress.
The last time I talked to you, the team was coming off a season in which you never lost two games in a row. This year has been different. How?
It has been different. I think we struggled early to find our defensive game. I think we were giving up too many goals, and we're a team that usually wins games giving up one goal. I think we found it lately; you can see that we're back on track. Sometimes after a long season it just takes time to find your groove again.
Lundqvist had a rough patch around the holidays, and AV suggested that he needed to "rebecome himself." (Nash shook his head, as if the statement made no sense to him.) It seems as if he has. What does that mean for the rest of you?
He's the best goalie in the world. He's one of those goalies that you can just leave alone, because you know he's going to bring his best game forward in the long run. He's obviously our best player, our star, our main reason why we're doing as well as we are. But in saying that, you can't leave him out to dry. You've got to help him. Everyone's got to buy into the defensive system.
Speaking of defense, as the trade deadline approaches, Keith Yandle's name has been tossed around a lot. What do you think he's brought to the team?
He's a great guy in the dressing room, which is huge. He quarterbacks the power play, he's played well. I'm glad I'm a player and I don't have to worry about the business end.
You predicted back in October that JT Miller would be a star this year, and you were right.
He has all the tools to be a star in this league. How old is he now ... 22, 23? [He's 22.] So he's coming into that age when he's got to bring his A game, there's no more excuses. And he has. It's been fun to watch.
You made a solid prediction for Miller; what sort of future do you see for Dylan McIlrath?
He's one tough guy. He's a guy you love to have on your team and you'd hate to play against.
Do you think he has to fight, to earn a spot?
No, I don't think so. He's a first-rounder, he doesn't have to fight, he's got good enough skill to play. But it's nice to have that in your back pocket, someone to stand up for the team. You always need that.
We could have used you in overtime against the Kings the other night. What do you think of the 3 on 3?
It's fun. It's fun to watch. I enjoy watching it. I think if a team misses the playoffs because of one point, and it comes down to a 3 on 3 game, I don't think that's fair. But as for growing the game and the fans being excited to watch it, I think it's great.
You guys have some tough games coming up. Which one do you really hope to be back for?
Every game we play seems like a rivalry game, because everyone gets up to play against the Rangers. It's so cool.
The Playmobil sets are available online and at the NHL Store.