With the loss of Ryan McDonagh, among other players, the New York Rangers have lost a lot. Captaincy and leadership are two roles they need to fill…and they have the perfect guy for the job.
Mats Zuccarello, the soft-spoken yet feisty right winger, is the best option the New York Rangers have to fill the vacant role of captain. The soon to be 31 year old (September 1st) has all the qualities the team is looking for.
However, it’s safe to assume his name has not been at the forefront of the Rangers’ minds when they think of who can fill McDonagh’s shoes. What makes that possibly true?
Firstly, it’s only fair to mention that talk of new captaincy hasn’t quite begun yet. However, that’s not the only reason.Character plays a big role in these decisions, as well. Zuccarello is a rather quiet, keep-to-himself and get the job done type of player. His efforts don’t exactly go “unnoticed,” but he’s not considered amongst the league’s best players.
Of course, with Henrik Lundqvist in net and rising young talents such as Brady Skjei, it’s almost excusable to overlook Zuccarello.
Why Zuccarello Should Wear the “C”
While Zuccarello is certainly not the equivalent of big names such as Steven Stamkos or Alex Ovechkin, he is one of the only forwards on the Rangers’ roster that can do for his team what the formerly mentioned do for theirs.
That’s consistency and reliability. Both are things the current roster is not comprised of enough. Whatever he lacks in skill he makes up for with his efforts. And perhaps more importantly, if it’s leadership the Rangers seek, then they have the best option in front of them.
With the argument that Lundqvist is the Rangers’ best players and leader, he still cannot be given the “C” simply because of his position. Goaltenders simply aren’t awarded that privilege in the league.
And the Rangers don’t have enough young talent to pull what the Edmonton Oilers did with Connor McDavid. So that leaves them with their last option of Zuccarello.
Now, that isn’t said as “he’s their last option so that’s what they must choose.” It happens to be that he is their only legitimate option. It also happens to be that their only legitimate option is a perfect candidate for the job.
It was be biased to say there aren’t other options. Kevin Shattenkirk, assuming he’s fully healthy, is a potential candidate. However, not playing the majority of last season and not playing the part he did participate in well is cause for concern. After all, how can the Rangers trust what they don’t know?
The team needs to realize a few things when making this decision. First is that they must choose a veteran. Second is that whoever it is better be able to motivate the locker room when they need it most.
And most importantly, they must realize Zuccarello is the best man for the job. The team needs a leader that sets a tone for the guys in the dressing room. Even though they are all NHL players, there is something about leadership that gives guys an extra little jump. An effective leader can rally the troops when things look dire.
A scrappy, wears his heart on his sleeve player like Zuccarello should hold things together as the Rangers rebuild. Part of why the team had so much success this decade was guys like Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan. Slightly older players that were able to guide young guys and show them the right way to carry themselves.