For 10 years, Rick Nash stood alone as the Blue Jackets' best player, its only homegrown star and only recognizable player outside I-270. The idea of trading the five-time All-Star was unimaginable for most fans.

But since Nash requested to be traded last winter — the darkest hour in an almost pitch-black season — his departure was inevitable, the wait for it to happen a prolonged agony.

Yesterday, after nearly six months of speculation and negotiations, Nash finally was traded, sent to the New York Rangers for three players and a draft pick in a trade that ends an era of hockey in Columbus.

In return for the franchise's Mr. Everything, the Jackets acquired two formidable NHL centers — Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov — along with prospect defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round draft pick in 2013.