Earlier today, it was announced that former Columbus Blue Jackets forward, Rick Nash is retiring due to his concussion history.
After fifteen seasons in the NHL, concussion related issues caused the top forward and former Columbus Blue Jacket to retire early. Concussions have sidelined Nash more than once in his career, the more recent of these in March of last year while playing with the Boston Bruins. After sitting out this season, there was a bit of speculation as to what he would do and where he would go. The decision to not return to the ice for the sake of his safety outweighed the desire to return.
Career in Columbus
To honor the Columbus great, I’d like to take some time to look over his career.
Number 61 on the ice quickly skated his way to a number 1 career. Nash was the first number 1 overall pick in the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He continues to sit in the number one spot of games played and goals scored. He is first in assists and points in the history of the franchise. In his time with the Blue Jackets he scored 289 goals and 258 assists in 647 games. In total, he had 547 points in a Blue Jackets uniform.
He wasted no time in his NHL debut (the 2002-03 season opener) as he scored his first goal. He finished out his first season with 39 points (17 goals and 22 assists) and came up third in the running for the Calder Trophy.
In his second season, he tied a franchise record with 41 goals in one season—this record still stands. In 2008, Nash made what was later known as “The Goal” during Columbus’ first push to the playoffs.
At age 23, he became the captain of the Blue Jackets, the fifth one in team history. Nash made five appearances to the All-Star games as a Columbus player. He was a solid player and became the face of the franchise and a force to be reckoned with. In summer of 2012, Nash was traded to the New York Rangers. Even after being traded he still remains a Blue Jackets legend.
Nash as a Ranger and Bruin
Nash went on to continue a notable career in New York with the Rangers for the next 6 years. In 375 games played in New York, he registered 145 goals and 107 assists. His performance with the New York Rangers translated in one all-star appearance. Unfortunately, he also had some brain trauma/concussion issues. In 2013, Nash sat out for six weeks due to a concussion. He sat out for six weeks in 2013 due to a concussion.
In February of 2018, the Boston Bruins acquired Rick Nash. The Bruins were looking to bolster up their forward depth for the final stretch of the season.
Unfortunately, Nash sustained a concussion in March of 2018 and so he was only able to play 11 games and totaled six points (3 goals and 3 assists).
Sadly, the effects of that last concussion have lasted and are the reason for his early retirement.
Concussions in the NHL
Concussions are well known to cause long term issues with athletes. However, studies usually focus on the football players in the NFL.
Studies in 2017 started to focus on NHL players instead. Scott Thornton, a former NHLer who spent time with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks is one of the players that has volunteered for this study. Thornton had seven or eight recorded concussions and just as many unrecorded. He has issues remembering names of former teammates and conversations he has with his family.
Some of the other players who participated in study reported having seizures. In addition, 59% of this group of former players admitted to struggling with depression and anxiety as well as substance abuse. This is considerably higher than the typical numbers (19% in the control group and about 50% in general). Currently there is no conclusive evidence that the amount of concussions that NHL players deal with directly correlates with these statistics. Hopefully, more research will continue to be done for the safety of the players.
Thank You, Rick Nash
I’m sure that the feeling around the league is mutual, but we want to wish Rick Nash the best in his life after the NHL. Columbus, New York, and Boston alike have been lucky to have such a player on their roster. We wish the Columbus legend the best of luck and thank him for everything.
stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals