Rick Nash had difficulty sleeping Monday night, after it became known he had asked the Columbus Blue Jackets to trade him.
After spending nine seasons as the face of a losing franchise, Nash was uncertain of the reaction from fans who have idolized him but now might see him as just another opportunist.
"I'm not too sure what to expect," he said Tuesday in his first public comments after it was revealed he had asked to be dealt. "I've been with these fans my whole career here. I love them no matter what. They're a great fan base, loyal. They've been patient with this organization and with this team. No matter what the reception is I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for our fans."
General manager Scott Howson first mentioned Nash's trade request Monday, shortly after he failed to trade the four-time All-Star. "He obviously wants a change," said Howson, who was approached by Nash in January about being moved.
Most people had thought the team, with the worst record by far in the NHL at 18-37-7, had first floated the possibility of dealing its best player. So, it was a shocker that it was Nash, who has long said how much he loves Columbus and the Blue Jackets, who wanted out.
But most observers believe it will be difficult to forget that Nash wanted out. Nash, however, was adamant -- repeating the same phrase several times -- that he not only wanted to help his own career but also help the organization that drafted him No. 1 and helped him become one of the top stars in the NHL.
"I was informed by management that there was a rebuild, a reshape, in the team and I personally felt I could be a huge part of that towards bringing assets in," he said. "In my view, that was the best thing for the team, the organization, and personally for my career."
Nash has 21 goals and 22 assists in 62 games this year, and is a minus-23.
In his nine-year career, he has 280 goals and 251 assists in 654 games. He is signed through the 2014-15 season and will make between $7.5 million and $7.9 million each year. He has a no-trade clause in his contract and has given Howson a list of teams to which he would agree to be traded. Nash declined to say who was on the list or how many teams there were on it.
No one has outlined what Columbus is asking in return, but it is believed Howson wants a frontline player, a top prospect and a No. 1 draft pick. Howson said he would continue to try to trade Nash after the season.
San Jose coach Todd McLellan missed the Tuesday night game against Philadelphia because of concussion symptoms. General manager Doug Wilson said McLellan had not been cleared by doctors to return to the bench after being hit in the head by a stick Sunday in Minnesota. Assistant coaches Matt Shaw and Jay Woodcroft ran the team.
Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom did not play Tuesday night at Columbus and is listed as day to day after injuring one of his ankles Saturday night against Colorado. The Red Wings recalled defenseman Doug Janik from the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins to fill Lidstrom's spot.
The legendary Jean Beliveau, 80, had a second stroke in the past two years and is hospitalized for treatment in Montreal. The Hall of Famer, 80, was stricken Monday night and is "undergoing active investigation and treatments" in Montreal.
First Published February 29, 2012 5:00 AM