Playing on an original six team is a privilege in and of itself. Being named the captain of one, is an entitlement that very few have earned. In their 88 years as a National Hockey League franchise, the New York Rangers have only had 27 team captains. Of those 27, Mark Messier has donned the “C” on two separate occasions. So who will be the 28th captain in Rangers history?
The mid-season departure of Ryan Callahan left a void at the Rangers captaincy which has still yet to be filled. Cally was a spectacular captain, and like many of the players who held the title before him, he epitomized the team the he lead. Hard nosed, blue collared, win by any means necessary. Like it or not, that ship has sailed, it’s time for a new chapter in Rangers folklore.
When Callahan and the Rangers parted ways, there were easily four or five players who rightfully could have been handed over the “C”. At the time, it was ultimately the correct decision to not name a captain once Cally left. The veterans of the team used it as a rallying cry to band together, and the leaders of the team stepped up when necessary.
With that being said, the team needs a captain, but with a roster filled with a copious amount of deserving candidates the decision isn’t going to be easy. While head coach Alain Vigneault has stated that he has his mind set on who will be the next captain, he won’t name him until the start of training camp. Not to worry, more time to speculate who is the better fit. Here is a list of candidates, ending with the player who earned should become the next captain of the New York Rangers:
4.) Marc Staal – If you could describe the ’13/’14 New York Rangers in one word it could be, persistent. No one on this current roster exhibits persistence more so than Marc Staal. Currently an assistant captain, Staal can be the dark horse on this team to become the next captain. A homegrown talent, the 27 year old Thunder Bay, Ontario native, has spent his first seven seasons in the NHL as a Ranger.
During his comeback season last year he skated in 72 games, had 3 goals and 11 assists after suffering a devastating eye injury. Once back to form, he solidified the second D-pairing, and helped former Ranger Anton Stralman earn a massive paycheck this off-season. Since he has been a professional Staal has been a model Ranger on and off the ice. Why not him?
3.) Martin St. Louis- When St. Louis first came over to the Rangers in a trade for then captain Ryan Callahan, there was a sort of resentment towards him from the Blueshirts faithful. Struggling to find his game down the stretch, the captain for captain swap with Tampa was looking like an all-time fail. Little did we know at the time, but Marty would become the catalyst behind one of the most unforgettable playoff runs in Rangers history. St. Louis quickly found a special place in all Ranger fans hearts after his perseverance to continue playing following the sudden death of his mother.
It was during this time of struggle that Marty’s true colors came to the forefront. His composure and willingness to continue pushing forward became a rallying cry for his teammates. It was because of him that they truly came together as a team. He has the history of being a captain for the Lightning, he has proven that he can help lead this Rangers team, and he has the respect of his teammates.
There’s not much more you can look for in a captain that what St. Louis already brings to the table. The only thing working against him is his age, and his contract. This upcoming season is his last under contract with the Rangers, but one would assumes since he demanded a trade to come to New York, he would take a short term deal to retire here.
2.) Dan Girardi – When you look at the New York Rangers over the past 8 seasons there are two consistents; Henrik Lundqvist and Dan Girardi. Girardi is a homegrown talent who went from un-drafted free agent to all-star defenseman. Anchoring the top D-pairing with Ryan Mcdonagh, Girardi has only missed 5 games in his entire NHL career.
One of the veteran players on the team, Girardi is one of the most respected Ranger among not only his teammates, but the fans as well. Agreeing to a 6 year contract extension last season, Girardi becomes an easy target to become the next captain. The poster boy for being un-phased by pressure, his warrior-like mentality is what separates him from the rest. Willing to put his body on the line at any moment, Girardi will do what ever it takes to win. What more could you ask for in a captain?
1.) Ryan Mcdonagh – The future of the New York Rangers is here, and it is ready to flourish. Ryan Mcdonagh is coming off his best season as a professional, and is signed long-term to a deal with 5 year remaining on it. Surpassing Dan Girardi as the number one D-man on the team, the future for McDonagh as a Ranger is extraordinarily bright.
Emerging as a Norris Trophy candidate as best defenseman in the NHL, Mcdonagh began to come into his own as an NHL player last season. Able to contribute in all three zones, his value to this club is without question immeasurable. If the Rangers are going to continue to be contenders at any point in the future, Ryan Mcdonagh will be a huge reason why.
Aside from Henrik Lundqvist there isn’t a more valuable player on this team. Mcdonagh brings shut down D, along with explosive skating while creating quality scoring chances. If he is not named the captain of this team it would be a shock. It fits perfectly into the theme of the Rangers, it’s all about the future, and the future is happening right now.
Honorable meantion: Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, Derek Stepn.
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