Lindsay Kramer | NHL.com correspondent
Deep in the heart of Texas, forward Tyson Nash is trying to make his way back to the NHL.
But first, he has to get to the AT@T Center, home of his AHL squad, the San Antonio Rampage. On a morning earlier this week, the taxi taking him from his hotel to the arena for practice is of little help. Nash, who has been in the city for about a week, is giving directions to the driver. A right here. A left there. Pull up to that door. There, that will do. Nash has navigated his own arrival.
"The rink is kind of way out in the fairgrounds,"' Nash explained. "He (the driver) probably doesn't go there too often."
If only Nash's return trip to the big time could go as smoothly. Then again, considering he's in charge of that, too, maybe it will. Nash, 31, one of the most irritating middleweights in the NHL over the past few seasons, has been sent to the AHL by parent club Phoenix. Nash, a veteran of 374 NHL games with St. Louis and Phoenix, hasn't played in the AHL since 1998-99, with Worcester.
The demotion was a stunner to Nash. He said Phoenix gave him a day to see if he could work out a trade to another team, then sent him to the Rampage. Nash's wife and three young children remained in their home in Phoenix.
"I'm not sure how this came to pass. I had a strong training camp,"' Nash said. "I was actually really shocked. I've definitely been humbled by this. You definitely don't want to take a day for granted in the NHL. Not that I ever did that."
Nash never had grounds to. He was originally a 10th-round pick in 1994 by Vancouver, taken behind 246 other players. He played for the Syracuse Crunch for three seasons before the then-parent club Canucks decided he had no NHL future and let him go.
Big mistake. Nash caught on with the Blues and battled his way to fourth-line fixture status despite his average size (5-11, 194) and modest skills.
"I'm not going to let it end right now. But I'm proud of what I've accomplished with what I've been given," he said. "This is just another bump in the road. I have a lot to give."
Nash, as smart as he is chippy, knows that in today's hockey climate that starts with offense. He's always been a good AHL scorer, contributing 20 goals one season with the Crunch. In his first five games with the Rampage, he posted three goals. Nash was seldom counted upon to score in the NHL, never hitting double figures in goals at that level. His stay in San Antonio is meant to show that maybe it's time an NHL team looks at him in that light.
"I'm trying to find my offensive touch again, something you tend to lose when you're a fourth-line player," he said. "When you go to the NHL, you have to play a certain role. I thought I was great at it. It's nice to get back down here and get that (scoring) touch back. When I go back to the NHL, maybe I can put the puck in."