Mandatory Credit: Christopher Szagola-US PRESSWIRE

New York Rangers' Ryan Callahan Should Come Home With Messier Leadership Award

As the NHL 2011-2012 season comes to a close within the next few days, the next official league event is the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, NV on June 20th.  While everyone is excited for all the announcements, I’m most curious to see who will win the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, which is given “to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season”.  The nominees this year are: Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes, Dustin Brown of the LA Kings, and Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers.  All three men are captains of their respective teams, and each man lead their team into the playoffs, Doan and Callahan to their Conference Finals and Brown to the Stanley Cup Finals.

While you may accuse my judgement of being clouded, as I am a Ranger fan, Callahan should walk away with this award if Messier picks the winners according to the description of the award.

Callahan is most known as a true grinder.  In the corners, digging out the puck, hitting bodies and dominating the ice.  Callahan is also know off the ice as the kid who’s grandmother stole the show and the winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award this season (as well as 2009-2010, 2008-2009).  Through the highs and the lows of the New York Rangers’ season, Callahan has stuck by the team, his play never slacking.  Leading the team on and off the ice during the regular season, Callahan is the backbone of the guys on and off the ice, no matter what.  That’s hard to be said about another leader up for the award.

Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Dustin Brown has had nothing but a spectacular post season, pushing his team through to the Stanley Cup Finals but remember, this award goes to those who did it during the season.  And during the season?  Brown was the topic of many rumors during the weeks leading up to the trade deadline.  While it is not directly his fault, the rumors do lead me to think that the if the Kings are willing to trade their captain, how much of a leader is he?  Yes, yes.  I’m not questioning Brown’s leadership skills and playing skills, but if he is so important to the team, the locker room, the LA Kings culture, why was he even considered part of a trade?  Rumor or not, if he was truly the leader LA needs, Brown would have never made the rumor mill.  Brown is a stand up guy, the best character but maybe not the leader most deserving of the award.

The third nominee, Shane Doan is an outstanding leader but not exactly the stand up gentlementhe other two players are known to be.  Sure, Doan has been painted as the fearless leader, unflappable as the Coyotes future is up in the air, but he’s not exactly the guy I want to see walk away with this award.  Doan is an example of what not to do for rookies: suspended in March for three games for elbowing Jamie Benn in the head (with 8 games to go in the regular season), was fined a week earlier for boarding Mark Giordano, and was suspended in October of 2010 for a blindside hit on Dan Sexton.  Three questionable hits in such a short period of time, and two within a week of each other?  I wouldn’t consider him captain material, let alone an award winning captain.  Reckless out on the ice?  Pass.

Callahan might not be my favorite Ranger, but out of these three choices, you know that he is the most complete captain.  A leader and a player to model yourself after, Callahan is the true embodiment of everything Messier believed a captain should be and was during his time as a captain.

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Tags: Dustin Brown Mark Messier Messier Leadership Award New York Rangers Ryan Callahan Shane Doan

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