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GETTING TO KNOW N.Y. RANGERS RICK NASH

Name:Richard McLaren Nash

Born June 16, 1984 (age 33) in Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Height:6 ft 4 in

Weight: 211 lb

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

Salary: $8.2 million

At what age did you start playing hockey? A: My dad had us skating when we were 2 or 3 years old out on the pond behind our house. I’d been going to hockey schools, and then 6 years old is when I first started playing organized hockey. You made the jump straight from junior hockey to the NHL, what was the toughest part of that? A: The speed and the size of the players. In junior, you could hold the puck for a few seconds and then make the play; in the NHL, guys are on you right away, you have to know your next move when the puck hits your stick. Would you characterize yourself as a sniper? A: I don’t know. … Snipers usually score (chuckle) great goals, and hard shots. … I’m more of a power forward going to the net, finishing my checks, just kinda going into the hard areas to score. Boyhood idol? A: Mats Sundin. I just grew up a Leaf fan at the time, in a suburb of Toronto and him being the captain and all that. Biggest influences? A: My parents, No. 1. They’re the ones that figured out a way to pay for me to play hockey, to get me to practice in the morning. After that, I had the same coach, basically [Keith Carrigan], from when I was 10 years old to 16, before I left for junior. It was amazing the things we were doing at 11, 12 years old, the practices we were running, it’s still drills that we do now and in junior. He seemed like he was ahead of his game. Superstitions? A: I wouldn’t say too many superstitions, just more routine. It’s “Groundhog Day” every gameday. Any special pregame meal? A: Chicken and pasta. What is your on-ice mentality? A: I would say I’m focused on what I have to do to help the team the most — whether it’s block a shot, make a hit, get a puck feed, get an offensive chance, make a good defensive play. Whatever the situation is in the game, I think I’m always focused on what’s best for the team. Describe the first time you played in the Garden. A: I remember I scored one of my nicest goals of probably my career. We were shorthanded, [Jaromir] Jagr came in, I stripped him of the puck, flew down the left side, went around the knee toe drag and put it top glove. What drives you? A: Love of the game, for sure. I watch every single June, a different team raise the Cup, and just to think that I have that opportunity is what drives me. … [I] picture myself skating around the rink with that thing over my head, is something that’ll keep me going until hopefully I get it.