Via their twitter feed, the Rangers have informed us that they will be announcing the captain and alternate captains for the 2011-2012 season tomorrow. This is welcome considering how long it’s been since we’ve had legitimate offseason news regarding the Rangers. This has especially been a topic of interest ever since Drury was officially bought out. Here’s my prediction for how everything unravels tomorrow:
Captain: Ryan Callahan
To be honest, I’d prefer Dubinsky to be given the “C.” Callahan is not a bad choice by any means, but I think Callahan is more of a role model wheres Dubinsky is more of a leader. Dubinsky works just as hard as Callahan does and seems to be a lot more vocal. Dubinsky’s the one who will use the media to challenge his teammates to do better. Dubinsky’s the one who drops the gloves with Ovechkin and Mike Richards.
But John Tortorella is the person who would know best. And I believe he’s going to choose Ryan Callahan. Callahan is always the first player Tortorella references when referring to the ideal player, or commitment on the ice. He is similar to Chris Drury in that he leads with how he plays on the ice. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dubinsky get it, but I think the scale is tilted in Callahan’s favor here.
Alternate: Brandon Dubinsky
I pretty much said everything necessary in the Ryan Callahan paragraph. Dubinsky’s virtually a lock to get a letter. He’s homegrown. He plays hard every shift. He’s one of the team’s top contributors offensively and he’s not afraid to stand up for his teammates.
Alternate: Marc Staal
When Vinny Prospal came back from injury last season Tortorella told him he wasn’t getting his “A” back. Marc Staal was the one who got his role as alternate captain and he had earned it. I don’t see why he would have it taken away now. He’s quite easily the best defenseman this team has. He doesn’t take any shifts off and is certainly a leader on the ice.
Notable Omission: Brad Richards
When looking at it at face value, Brad Richards is actually the most qualified to be captain. He’s older and much more experienced than Callahan, Dubinsky, or Staal, and he’s done everything. He’s won the Stanley Cup and he received the Conn Smythe award. He’s won a Lady Byng. However, I don’t think he is the best choice for this Rangers team. First of all, it would contradict to an extent what the Rangers’ memo has been for the past few years: building from within. John Tortorella and management have worked hard to remove the stigma attached with the Rangers that they try to buy their way to Stanley Cups. I think that they would not want to go against that philosophy, even if it’s just metaphorically, by naming their newly acquired free agent as captain. I also don’t think Richards wants the attention. He grew up in a lowly populated fishing community and he’s spent his career on two low-profile NHL teams. I think he’d prefer to just play his game and do what he needs to do in the locker room and on the bench.
That is how I see it playing out, though there is certainly room for change. One could easily justify giving a letter to Dan Girardi, and Marian Gaborik is the best skater on this team when he’s playing at his usual capacity. Whatever does happen, though, let’s not get worked up about it. There are very few guys in the history of hockey who are unequivocally deserving of being captain, such as Mark Messier or Gordie Howe. Ultimately, leaders will lead. Jaromir Jagr was captain a few years ago and led in his own way, but Shanahan could just have easily been captain with the way he played and how he stuck up for teammates. All of the guys mentioned, plus even players like Prust, Boyle, and Sauer, will do their parts to lead in some way.