One of the big stories surrounding the New York Rangers this offseason has been which player will don the captain’s C come opening night in October. Many names, like Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and the rest of the team’s skaters have pretty much all been thrown out there by fans as their pick to be the Rangers next captain. Now while more than a few of those names I mentioned above are deserving, and one of them will be the Rangers next captain, let us all not forget just who the real leader and captain of this team is.
That’ll be none other then starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Now of course goaltenders cannot “officially” be captains. I say that because we all remember when the Vancouver Canucks “unofficially” named their starting goaltender, Roberto Luongo, captain just a few years back, which obviously did not work out all too well since he is no longer even on the team.
Funny thing though is that Alain Vigneault was the head coach of the Canucks when Luongo was named captain of the Canucks but do not let that fool you into think Lundqvist will be the unofficial captain of the Rangers. I’m sure Vigneault was not a huge fan of the decision to make Luongo the unofficial captain but in doing so I think is a testament to just how bad the leadership in that Canucks locker room was then.
The favorite to be the Rangers next captain seems to be number one defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and while I believe almost every coach, player, and fan will vouch for MacTruck, let us not forget that if it were not for Lundqvist, the Rangers would have never had the playoff success this franchise has seen over the past decade, post-2004-05 lockout.
I mean before that lockout the Rangers were on a stretch where they went 7 straight seasons without even making the postseason. However, since 2005-06, since Lundqvist has been the Rangers starting goaltender, the Blueshirts have only once missed the playoffs, and 2 out of the last 3 seasons have gone to 2 Eastern Conference Finals and 1 Stanley Cup Finals.
None of that success could be possible without the extraordinary work ethic and desire to get better each and every game that Lundqvist has shown throughout his career. And remember Lundqvist was originally a 7th round draft pick.
So whoever becomes the Rangers next “official” captain come opening night, just remember any chance of the Rangers winning a Stanley Cup depends on Lundqvist. A leader by example and “unofficial” team captain of the New York Rangers.