Nash all but forgotten in his final days here

Columbus is shivering with Final Four fever, spring football practice is under way, and baseball season has officially commenced. Meanwhile, Rick Nash is playing what are, with little doubt, his last games in a Blue Jackets sweater — and it is barely causing a stir. What a sad and strange denouement for our city’s best professional athlete. Nash played in his 669th game and registered his 541st point as a Jacket last night. The team he has represented for all of his nine NHL seasons defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 before a crowd of 12,432 in Nationwide Arena. Half the patrons wore red.
The Jackets have five games remaining in what has been, by most measures, the worst season in their history. They have two more home games, Friday night against Kevin Dineen’s Florida Panthers and on April 7 when the New York Islanders visit for the season finale. How boldly nondescript: Nash, the face of an anonymous franchise, will be playing his last Jackets game against a faceless opponent. Nash requested to be moved prior to the trade deadline. Since general manager Scott Howson could not find a proper ransom by Feb. 27, Nash was left to culminate his captaincy with a six-week, lame-duck lap. It is almost over. “The fans have been great,” Nash said. “It could have gone a much different way, and I realize that. But like I’ve said before, we’ve been through a lot here, me and the fans, and I appreciate their support more than anything.” If any other multimillionaire athlete tried to say something like that, it would come across as disingenuous pandering. Not so with Nash. He asked out of here, which is, in a sense, a betrayal. He tried to package it as some kind of sacrifice he was willing to make for the franchise, which is not the whole truth. He should not be wearing the “C” anymore; it is not proper, but he will not cede it. Although Nash should be held accountable for such transgressions, there is nothing phony about his present bent — which is to maintain a high professional standard, fulfill his duty to his teammates and give his best for those who pay to see him, even if they’re scalping glass-level seats for $15.