Free agent Rick Nash unsure if he’ll return to NHL next season

HC at Noon reacts to the developing news that Rick Nash is unsure whether to return to the NHL, needs time to figure things out, and will not engage with teams when free agency starts.

One of the NHL’s top free-agent forwards has surprisingly taken himself off the market before it even opened.

Rick Nash is suspending talks with interested teams because he’s unsure if he wants to play next season, agent Joe Resnick told Sportsnet on Thursday.

It’s a decision based entirely on health and family. Nash received strong interest when the free-agent courting period opened last weekend and likely would have netted a multi-year contract worth at least $15 million.

However, the 34-year-old has been flip-flopping on whether he should return for a 16th NHL season – especially after suffering a concussion in March while playing for the Boston Bruins, one of several documented head injuries he’s dealt with over a 1,060-game career.

"He’s not ready to make a decision and teams need answers for personnel decisions," said Resnick of Top Shelf Sports Management Inc. "He wants to be fair to the teams."

At this point, it’s too soon to say whether Nash will retire. He’s planning to step back and take some time to evaluate his options. There is no timetable on a decision.

Nash’s wife, Jessica, is currently pregnant with the couple’s third child and his young family has made it tougher to continue playing given his injury history.

Nash was excited to land in Boston from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline but suffered a concussion in his 11th game with the team. He didn’t seem like himself after returning for the playoffs and putting up five points in 12 games.

"It was disappointing with having the concussion and having some effects during it and only playing a certain amount of games and then coming back for the playoffs," Nash told reporters in May at the Bruins locker cleanout day. "But everything was positive. The organization was great, the guys were awesome, so it was a great chapter here and hopefully it can continue."

Boston was one of the teams in the mix to give him a new contract. A return to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who drafted him first overall in 2002, was also discussed. Other interest came from competitive teams in the Western Conference.

Now it remains to be seen if he’ll ever play another game.

Nash has 437 goals and 805 points during his career and compiled a sparkling international resume – winning back-to-back Olympic gold medals with Team Canada in Vancouver and Sochi, while also capturing gold at the 2007 IIHF World Hockey Championship.

The only jewel keeping him from joining the prestigious Triple Gold Club was the Stanley Cup. He reached the 2014 final with the Rangers team that lost to the Los Angeles Kings.


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