The Great Debate: Who is the next Rangers Captain?

August 17, 2014, by
THE Captain

THE Captain

Loads of armchair GM’s have had one thought on the backburner of their mind since Ryan Callahan was traded last March: who will be the next captain? Instead of instantly naming a new captain, a move which the Lightning made immediately upon the captain-for-captain swap of Callahan for Martin St. Louis, the Rangers simply promoted Dan Girardi to full time alternate. Joining Marc Staal and Brad Richards proudly wearing the ‘A’ on their sweaters was a promotion of sorts for Girardi, who signed an extension during the regular season.

Around now is when I would cite some reliable sources about the most recent news as to who will be leading our beloved Blueshirts through seasons to come, but quite frankly I would rather irresponsibly yap about my opinion and play a few rounds of Devil’s Advocate. We know that Richards can’t be the captain, leaving us with two logical guesses in Staal and Girardi. Many are convinced that Ryan McDonagh is a lock for the role. How about veteran and former captain St. Louis? Or another former captain in Rick Nash? The possibilities are endless.

In order to logically analyze this, we should look at the qualities that the Rangers have looked for in a leader. Callahan was a quiet, hard-working and poised leader. He was never the most skilled player on the ice, but he always gave it 100%. He was the personification of a John Tortorella player: tough, willing to give up his body for the puck, possesses a full team mentality, and a hard trainer. When Alain Vigneault came in, it felt as though the Torts days of hellish training camp were over and Cally might be leaving shortly thereafter. Still, I believe had he and the front office come to terms on a contract extension, he would still be wearing the ‘C’ for AV.

Along with Cally’s departure, the Rangers have to address the veteran leadership lost with the Richards buyout. Though Richards’ monotone interviews left a lot to be desired in the staying awake category, he has a great locker room reputation and nobody can take away his offense-loaded response to being benched in the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals. Simply put, he is an unassuming hard worker and was great for the team in the locker room.

This is where I believe MSL gets a letter. Do I think it’ll be the C? No. But I do believe he takes an alternate captain spot for his first full year as a Ranger. He isn’t locked down long term, and he is 39 years old, and it’s a lot less irritating to change alternates year to year as opposed to captains. Although Nash is locked down with a NMC, I also don’t see him taking a letter next year. Nash played captain with the Columbus Blue Jackets, a role which didn’t suit him at all. When Columbus fans were calling for his head, he didn’t respond well (with good reason..) and I don’t see Nash being successful with that sort of spotlight on him. I think that in a huge market, him playing his game as low-key as possible is the key to his success.

Speaking of long term contracts, the speculation that Staal won’t be promoted to captaincy due to his ‘probable’ departure for Carolina to play with his brothers is real right now. I could probably write a full post about how absurd I think it is that Marc would leave to play with his brothers and try to change Carolina’s team name from Hurricanes to Staals, but that’s another story for another Sunday. I don’t see him getting the ‘C;’ in fact, I think he might lose it altogether. With Derek Stepan being called to play for the United States in Sochi mostly for his locker room presence, he has to be considered for a leadership position with the Rangers. He’ll be a RFA after this year, so he will be around for at least two more seasons. Give Staal’s ‘A’ to Stepan, keep Girardi and St. Louis as alternates, and give the ‘C’ to Ryan McDonagh.

Why Mac? Look at him. He’s got the Callahan-esque mentality of playing as hard as is required, as is evidenced in 53:21 TOI in the triple overtime game against the Capitals in 2012. Each interview is perfect, as though he is teaching front office how to PR right. He holds himself accountable and often looks ahead to the next game as opposed to being too high on himself. He has obvious talent and, let’s not forget, he’s only just turned 25 years old. McDonagh is locked up through 2019. Girardi has been a lifelong Ranger, he’s a guy who went from undrafted to all-star in only a few short seasons… but he is older and less talented than Mac. I say give it to the kid and let him run with it.

Of course, who knows? Maybe AV decides he wants a random to have it. Derick Brassard, New York Rangers Captain? Only time will tell…

"The Great Debate: Who is the next Rangers Captain?", 5 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.


  1. George says:

    I could see Zucc getting a letter too but I like Mac as Captain and MLS, Stepan and Girardi with A’s

  2. Leatherneckinlv says:

    There is no debate, McDonagh by a huge margin

    • DropThePuck says:

      Was not my idea first can not remember where I heard it BUT I think it is a good one. Give it to MSL for 1 year to give Mac another year to see how it is done by a consummate professional & future HOF.

  3. Walt says:

    Mac Truck is the man!!!!!

  4. Spozo says:

    I think the general consensus is Mac for the C. But will they really take the A off of Girardi or Staal? Isn’t that somewhat of an insult? Does anyone else think that would be kind of weird unless there’s a situation where one of them gives their letter away? I could see that happening where someone gives it to MSL.

    Also wouldn’t it be interesting to have all of the letters on defenders? Does any other team have a leadership core consisting of half of their regular defenseman?

    • Becky says:

      I just see Staal leaving so….

      About the defensemen, that’s an interesting point. There are plenty of defense captains, though, so who knows. Phaneuf and Weber immediately come to mind here.

      • Bort says:

        Whether Staal were to voluntarily give up the letter, or they took it away to give to MSL, neither of those would bode well for his likelihood of staying past this season. Regardless, I agree we probably can’t afford him once his contract is up, but his losing the A would be the final nail in the coffin as far as I’m concerned.

        • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

          The final nail was hammered in that coffin a long time ago bud. The Rangers can’t afford another $6 million defenseman. They’re already 4th in the NHL paying 4+ mil per defenseman. They have an offenve ladened coach. They will look to spend money on forwards. Free agents, trades and their own future free agents.

          They may be looking to move Staal before camp but they could use his services during the season. That is until AV feels they no longer need him or the trade deadline approaches. Whichever comes first but Staal will be wearing another uniform the last month of the regular season.

      • Spozo says:

        If the season opens with Staal not having a letter then I definitely think it means negotiations have taken a nosedive and he will not be extended. Since Staal got the A there was never a question of him getting it back even when he missed most of two seasons. Girardi always wore it until he made his return.

  5. Dave says:

    Only 1 captain and two alternates allowed, so if Mac gets the C, then only two of MSL, Girardi, and Stepan are options. I can’t see Stepan getting an A in that scenario. And Girardi only gets the A if Staal is traded, or it negatively impacts his value in a trade.

    • Dave says:

      They can have rotating A’s, the way the 94 club did.

      • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

        I don’t remember that for whatever reason. Is that right? How did they rotate the “A” in 94′ Dave. Game by game or another way?

        It was written in this post that Nash didn’t handle the “C” well in Columbus. That might be true off the ice but during games he was unstoppable at times. Even when team game plan for him alone, he still was able to be a 40 goal guy.

        Nash is better off out of the spotlight? Has he been what you thought we were getting in July of 2012 when the trade was announced? I think he needs more spotlight on him. A kick in the pants from the fans and the media.
        He’s not a load mouth that controlles the locker room. He would have to lead on the ice and push himself through slumps by playing like he did against Columbus last season. That emotion he showed is what drives him to peak performance. I believe he should have a letter on his jersey. He’s here a while longer so a little exposure may motivate him. I wouldn’t cry if he got the “C” he’s had it before but an “A” at the least may get his motor going. It might just be a smart strategic move by the team.

        Mac will play like he does no matter what. He’s earned it with his play but who’s to say he wants it? There has to be a forward with a letter as a bridge between coach and players.

        • Dave says:

          Lowe, Larmer, Leetch all rotated.

          • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

            I remember Leetch but didn’t remember the others rotating as the Assistant Captain.
            I think Nash should get a letter. He’s hid long enough. I would like to see if he works harder game to game and shift to shift with a leadership role. It’s a gamble and maybe he hasn’t earned it.
            Don’t you think it’s a calculated risk and would be hailed as great if he scored 70 points next season?
            His quiet demeanor makes a kick in the pants Nessasary to me. The press would be on him more and he would have a spot light on him. Emotion seems to get his wheels turning and the press have a way of bringing emotions out of underperforming players.

        • TxRanger says:

          Man, if Voynov didn’t make one of the best defensive plays I have ever seen, Nash would’ve extended the series to a game 6, back in NY. If you asked me, all bets would’ve been of then, and Nash would be a hero. Frickin Voynov!

        • Chris A says:

          If I remember correctly there were two sets of ‘A’s in 94, one for home games and one for road games.

  6. Chuck A says:

    Tanner Glass – that’ll raise his game!!

  7. Furls says:

    I love his play, and there’s no doubt he gets it done night in and night out, but I just don’t think Mac is the vocal leader this team needs. I believe our next C needs to play tough, be able to back up what he says by scoring, and have the experience that when he calls out teammates in the locker room it’s constructive, and not taken as a slight.
    It may be his last year in NY, but I think MSL should get it this year and show Mac what it takes for the future.

  8. mikeyyy says:

    Whomever is chosen captain will need to be vocal and take care of any locker room issues. Av likes leadership that takes the bull by the horns… He let the guys in the locker room police themselves so I am expecting a leader that cam do that

    Dan Boyle
    Dom Moore

    Its a new chapter so they will have to make it a good choice.

  9. Jeff P says:

    Staal did nothing to lose the A. He’s been a great player and teammate. You don’t want to give him a C, fine, but he should keep his A.

    • Becky says:

      Sure, but we’re not sure what’s going on in the room, and if they don’t settle up a contract I don’t see him sticking out the season

  10. flatbush says:

    Thanks Dave for a fun debate with lots of opinions. We don’t really have an absolute feel about the inner workings in the “room” so we base opinions on what we see and come up with some deep over thinking. Lets not waste too many brain cells on the perfect pick; it matters but than again it doesn’t. When we lost Cally some said OMG “how could we let our Capt go”. We didn’t name a Capt; did not having a title matter? In Dave’s first paragraph it mentions 3 names that are still here. Two guys have ‘A”s and your not going to take away their A. Consistency matters and what would that say if you demoted someone. MLS was a Capt. If the room couldn’t respect that for whatever reason then pass him by for a valid reason not because he may not be here after next year. Our bench Mark will always be Mark and Cally was very good. If the guy in goal was a skater he could measure up to the benchmark. My vote is MSL with a long range plan is to get Mac the next A or C.

  11. TxRanger says:

    What about Dominic Moore?

  12. Kevin mccarthy says:

    zucc with A mcD gets C