When it comes to the health status of Rick Nash, all remains quiet on the Eastern front, except for the seemingly robotic team statement of “no update.” The New York Rangers elite winger has been out of commission for over a month now, and it has been speculated that he is dealing with a concussion.
The severity of his injury is unknown, and the lack of news should cause fans to get antsy and alarmed. Given Nash’s importance to the team, why aren’t the Rangers saying anything substantive about Nash’s injury?
Don’t fool yourself; even though the Rangers haven’t officially said it, everyone knows Nash has a concussion, or he at the very least is dealing with concussion-like symptoms, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. Numerous reporters have said that Nash has a concussion, and it is clear that Nash was visibly impacted when Brad Stuart hit his head with an egregious elbow.
Everyone else knows that Nash has dealt with concussions in the past. There was the Milan Lucic incident last year, and that took a brief toll on the Rangers winger. Concussions are a touchy subject for certain organizations, and the Rangers happen to be one of the few teams that is very mum when it comes to player injuries.
In the last 24 months, the team has been forced to deal with concussions to Marc Staal, Michael Sauer and two concussions with Nash. In addition to that, there have been other injuries that the team has declined to comment or talk about for various reasons.
Most recently, the team was very coy and cautious when it came to franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Since returning to the lineup, Lundqvist has been stellar, but it was never revealed what was ailing the 31-year-old netminder.
Getting back to Nash, on Tuesday there were a number of conflicting tweets sent out by numerous sources.
For starters, here is what Daren Millard of Sportsnet had to say about Nash’s status:
Hearing good things regarding rick nash. @ the practice facility, skated. Not day to day but is week to week. Good sign.— Daren Millard (@darenmillard) November 5, 2013
I trust the source. NYR very tight lipped. Best news is rick Nash is making progress.— Daren Millard (@darenmillard) November 6, 2013
For a brief moment, Rangers fans were elated and euphoric, but beat writer Steve Zipay of Newsday dropped a Thor-like hammer shortly after Millard’s proclamation:
Even worse, Sean Hartnett of CBS had this to say:
Heard on Sportsnet that Rick Nash did visit with a concussion specialist today in Tarrytown. No word on whether he skated separately or not.— Sean Hartnett (@HartnettHockey) November 6, 2013
So as you can see, we are once again at square one. Regardless of these tweets, you can still rule out protection as a reason for the Rangers not talking about Nash. It is no secret that he now has a weakness when it comes to concussions, so it wouldn’t be letting out a secret if the Blueshirts placed Nash on long-term injury reserve because of a concussion.
Why are the Rangers keeping quiet about Nash?
The only plausible reason in my mind that the Rangers are not disclosing information on Nash could be that they don’t want to be perceived as desperate in trade negotiations. The Rangers need help scoring even when Nash is in the lineup, so you can only imagine how shallow their offense is when he is sidelined.
By now, you have probably heard of the Blueshirts’ rumored interest in Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers, per Larry Brooks of the New York Post, and the move could imply that the team is trying to add a legitimate star of the future who can at the very least replace Nash for the interim.
So in this situation, trade negotiations could go on as usual, because there is no real impetus for either side to make a deal. However, if it were public knowledge that Nash was going to miss the next two months, the Oilers could take more of a hard-line stance to syphon additional pieces from the Blueshirts in a potential trade.
In this situation, it would make perfect sense for the Blueshirts to remain mum about Nash, because they don’t want to appear weak or desperate to improve their roster.
If that is the case, hats off to general manager Glen Sather. Say what you want about his free-agent signings, but the man knows how to make a trade. You may not agree with the optics of the Marian Gaborik trade, but right now, the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t exactly thrilled with what he has done so far.
Currently, the Blueshirts are 7-8-0 with a skeleton roster. Ryan Callahan has barely played, Carl Hagelin has just returned to the lineup and the aforementioned Nash still remains sidelined. If the situation is status quo a month from now, the Rangers will need to say something more than just “no update.”
Nash is vital to the success of this team, and the Rangers are not good enough without him to win a Stanley Cup. Very soon the team will need to address this loss, because for a player this valuable, it makes little sense to be saddled with $7.8 million in dead cap space.
Coming to terms with reality will allow the Rangers to move on, and it will allow them to field a competitive roster. Right now, no news is bad news, and Ranger fans should be very concerned as long as the silence continues.