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New dad Nash to hit runway with Winnipeg Jets

Six-month-old Rhett Nash is tasting real food this week for the first time. Daddy ate last week. Riley Nash on Saturday inked a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Winnipeg Jets.
Riley Nash

Six-month-old Rhett Nash is tasting real food this week for the first time.

Daddy ate last week.

Riley Nash on Saturday inked a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Winnipeg Jets.

“I’m very fortunate to have lasted this long,” said Nash, a 32-year-old forward from Kamloops.

“The way I play, if you don’t have a great year, you’re one of those third- or fourth-line guys and there are always people coming for your job.”

Nash tallied seven points, including two goals, in 37 games last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound centre was dealt to Toronto prior to the trade deadline and did not reach the scoresheet in two playoff games with the Maple Leafs.

“To hang in this long, I’m proud of, but at the same time, I’m not done,” said Nash, who has spent much of the summer in the Shuswap with Rhett, wife Clare and family. “My body has held up really well. I love the game and I’m loving learning, as much as ever, about the game. I feel like I have a lot of good years left in me.”

The unrestricted free agent was in talks with multiple NHL clubs, but none with as much interest as Winnipeg.

“All the teams we talked to seem to get their guy,” Nash said. “Winnipeg made an offer early on. We sat on it for a day or so and said this is the one. Let’s take it and run with it and see what we can do.

“They’re an awesome hockey team. They made some good moves this off-season. We’re going into a really good situation, on a real good team, a winning team, hopefully, that can make a deep run this year.”

Nash has 63 goals and 172 points in 578 regular-season NHL games over 10 seasons, with stints in Carolina, Boston, Columbus and Toronto.

He crossed paths briefly with Jets’ head coach Paul Maurice in 2011-2012 when the Winnipeg bench boss was head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.

“He was great to me back then and just through the media and how guys talk about that club, it seems like he has a lot of respect and I definitely respect him a lot and the way he sees the game,” Nash said.

“As all these years go on and you get a little bit older, you start to appreciate just being in the NHL and having another opportunity.”

Nash won’t soon go hungry, with estimated career earnings of $12,982,878, according to capfriendly.com.

Cousin Kelly Olynyk might call that an appetizer and should perhaps provide the hot dogs at the next family barbecue.

(They are not blood-related. Olynyk’s father’s brother is married to Nash’s mother’s sister.)

Olynyk, 30, on Monday signed a three-year, US$37 million deal with the Detroit Pistons, bringing his estimated career earnings in total cash, including this upcoming season with the Pistons, to US$69,907,816.

“I’m super proud of him and it sounds like I chose the wrong sport when I was younger,” Nash said with a laugh. “Those contracts the guys in the NBA are signing are just crazy.

“It’s awesome to see from a Kamloops boy like that, a Canadian guy from the West Coast. He's a trailblazer.”