NHL captaincy is unlike any other individual title in sports. When was the last time you saw a player be named the captain of a baseball or basketball team? I have friends who are not hockey fans, and I get asked the question all the time, “what does the ‘C’ on his chest stand for?” For a casual fan, or even a first-time viewer, you can watch any NHL game on any given day and immediately be able to point out which players are important to which team, without any prior knowledge of the game.
What makes a good captain, though? This topic has been a point of contention between hockey fans for many years. Is it skill that makes one player more deserving than the next guy? Is it seniority? Is it grit? Or is it one big popularity contest? In the case of the New York Rangers, there is one guy who embodies all of those traits in one. But first, let’s look at the contenders.