'Couldn’t be happier': Former Red Wing Gustav Nyquist lands in great situation with Blue Jackets
Columbus, Ohio – With a new daughter in the family, being securely part of a fine organization, and seemingly fitting in well within the lineup, things are going good for Gustav Nyquist.
The former Red Wings forward, who was dealt to San Jose at the March trade deadline, then signed with Columbus as an unrestricted free agent in July, is just fine with the Blue Jackets.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Nyquist said after the Blue Jackets’ morning skate Thursday. “We ended up in a great place, great organization, it’s a great group of guys. It’s made me feel at home right away.”
Nyquist entered Thursday’s game against the Wings with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 20 games, second on the team behind Pierre-Luc Dubois (15 points).
This was actually the second time Nyquist has faced the Wings. San Jose hosted the Wings shortly after the trade deadline last season.
“That was weird because it was so close after the trade,” Nyquist said. “Now it’ll be a little less emotional. The emotional part will be when we go there and play in Detroit (Dec. 17).”
Nyquist remains in touch with many of his former Wings teammates.
“Being there for so long, it’s felt like home for a while for our family,” Nyquist said. “You become real close friends with a lot of guys on the team. They’re going through a transition with a lot of younger players but there’s still a lot of players I’ve played with throughout my years there and I keep in touch with a lot of those guys.”
One former teammate who isn’t in the lineup anymore is defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who retired over the summer. Nyquist and Kronwall are close friends, and Kronwall was an older player who was a major influence on Nyquist.
“He’s probably the one that meant the most to my career,” Nyquist said. “Just the way he treated me, took care of me coming into the system in Detroit. I lived with him for a number of months and he really took me under his wings.
“He’s one of my best friends, and what an amazing career he had. I’m happy he’s still involved in the organization and doing quite a bit of work there.”
It wasn’t a shock when the Wings dealt Nyquist at the trade deadline for draft picks, given the Wings are in a rebuilding stage and there are so many young forwards on the way.
Nyquist enjoyed his time with the Sharks, as San Jose made a spirited run to the Western Conference finals.
“They treated me as good as you can, and just getting to play in the playoffs again, that is what you want as a hockey player,” Nyquist said. “You want the chance to win the Stanley Cup. It was a great time there, and a lot of fun.”
Nyquist met with a lot of Wings after the morning skate and spoke with coach Jeff Blashill. The two of them were part of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ American League championship in 2013.
“It was good to see Gus, we’ve been together a long time,” Blashill said. “He’s a great person, a great hockey player.”
The news of former Wings coach Mike Babcock being fired in Toronto the day before still dominated the conversation at the Thursday morning skate.
Babcock brought Blashill into the Wings’ organization in 2011 as an assistant coach, and the two have maintained a relationship.
“Mike is a great hockey coach, he’s done tons for me and gave me a chance,” Blashill said. “In my time in the American League, we had some unreal conversations, he helped me, and to this day I talk to him.
“It’s the nature of the business and we all accept it,” Blashill added about the firings.
Blashill is currently the sixth-longest tenured coach in the NHL, replacing Babcock in Detroit in 2015.
“It’s the world we live in,” said Blashill of the turnover in coaches. “Not just this profession, but the world we live in, it’s an instant gratification world, and there’s so much media, both mainstream and social media, and all that pressure tends to mount quickly.”
Blashill ruled out defenseman Mike Green (upper body), who was injured in Tuesday’s loss against Ottawa. Alex Biega or Joe Hicketts will replace Green in the lineup. Darren Helm (lower body) was likely out.
… Blashill has been pleased with Hicketts in his time with the Wings. The young defenseman, recalled from Grand Rapids, has two assists in five games with Detroit.
“He’s come in here and done a good job on the penalty kill, he plays with swagger and he’s moved the puck,” Blashill said.
… Defenseman Patrick Nemeth (leg infection) participated in the morning skate and appeared on track to play Saturday in New Jersey.