Musings

Why the NY Rangers should name a captain

Just give someone the "C" already!

The last piece of roster news was announced yesterday by head coach David Quinn, and it was greeted with eye-rolls from a majority of the Rangers fan base. Rather than select a captain “at this time”, the NY Rangers announced four alternates: Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Jacob Trouba, and Artemi Panarin.

All four players are deserving of the leadership role that the coaching staff has bestowed on them. It’s also clear, even without the designation of a letter, that Zibanejad and Kreider are more or less unnamed co-captains. But the fact remains that the Rangers haven’t named a captain since Ryan McDonagh was traded in February 2018.

A lot of this has to do with the arcane NHL rule that a goaltender cannot be designated captain, nor can he wear a letter on his jersey. If that rule didn’t exist, it’s pretty clear Henrik Lundqvist would have been the Blueshirts’ captain, probably once Ryan Callahan was traded in 2014.

Chris Kreider told the media yesterday, “A lot of the time (naming a captain) is more for the fan base than anyone else.” To a certain extent, this is true. The Rangers have a clear and established group of leaders on what is the league’s youngest roster. Most players probably don’t care about who wears a letter and who doesn’t. Leadership often happens organically, with new players stepping into those roles as they mature.

But here’s the rub. By delaying the naming of a captain, they’re adding a mythology and prestige to the captaincy which really doesn’t exist. Having a captain in hockey is entirely normal, except if you’re the Rangers apparently. Of course, this puts more pressure on the player who is eventually given the “C”, and that’s why it matters.

It’s no secret that the captaincy weighed on Ryan McDonagh (he gave enough morbid post-game interviews to last a lifetime). Another player who notably struggled with the responsibility of the post was the great Brian Leetch. And that’s why, although Kreider may only see the captaincy as fodder for discussion among the diehards in the Blue Seats, there’s more to it than that.

I’m of the opinion that Mika Zibanejad should get the “C”. But it’s really a dead heat between him and Kreider. Both would be exemplary captains of the Rangers, and I think most fans (and the players) would probably agree. Is it possible that the Rangers are hesitant to name Zibanejad captain only to lose him via trade or free agency when his contract expires at the end of next season? Possibly, but if that happens, they have a readymade replacement in Kreider; no delay necessary.

In any event, the saga continues, and the Rangers will start the 2021 season without a captain. With that, I turn it over to you, the lovely BSB audience. Leave your thoughts in the comments on how the NY Rangers should handle the vacant captain spot.

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  • Re-posting my share on a previous article from this great Ranger blog website:

    Not always the leaders in the locker room are wearing the C on their Jersey., My friend worked with the Colorado Avalanche staff in 1996- the year the Avs won the cup. There was a player named: Mike Keane- RW ( played with NYR as well), who did not have the “C” on his jersey nor a “A”, but was he was the player who worked with the young players in that locker room and was a quiet leader in that locker room. Joe Sakic, Adam foote, Forsberg were the leaders, but Keane was the guy who helped the young players get acclimated at the NHL level on many levels as well as having the coaches going to Keane when they leaned on him to focus on helping a young player or a player getting back on track.

    • Many times the equipment manager or strength coach have a really close relationships with the players. it is much easier and accessible for a player to voice concerns or ask for help on anything to a equipment or Strength coach.

      What my friend would do is and for example with Mike Keane: My friend knew Keane has an exceptional work ethnic and had a selfless nature to help others players. So when a rookie would make the team (i.e. Adam Deadmarsh that year for the AVS) my friend had Deadmarsh’s locker right next to Keane’s and, had him train with Keane and mentor Deadmarsh through-out that season.

      It appears Kreider is that player on that club. I’m curious when they show the Rangers pre-game in the locker room, who is sitting next to Kreider.

      Regarding Lias Andersson’s tenure with NYR: in my opinion: some blame is on Quinn and rushing the player up the NHL, but also could have very well been on the player not having the willingness to have the mentality to put that extra time and work with a player closely like Kreider.

      This off-season Laffy and Miller, to my understanding were working out with Krieder, during Andersson’s time with the Rangers, it was acknowledged he was playing video games late at night and not following or paring up with a player with a intense high work ethnic like Kreider.

      Kredier level of influence is very motivating to a young player when they see a player like Kredier to how he keeps himself in great shape and his attention to detail to his skillset.

      The adjustments for these young players to make at the NHL level is intense. The travel schedule, your training, your meals, where you will be living, it is such a big adjustment and they really need mentors on their respective teams

      • He was actually playing with Zibby and Working out! Not playing only video games! Miller on the top like was a DISGRACE and Quinn killed his confidence!! Quinn is the Problem! Don’t forget Hayes bashing Quinn and also Zuch!! A team as talented as the Rangers, playing like they did in the bubble and now is ALL on coaching

  • There are just as many good reasons to not have a Captain for this team as there are to have one. The fact that the fan base is pretty split on picking a Captain between Mika and Kreider is a good enough reason on its own to not pick between the two, but to spread the responsibilities between the two. If at some point in the future someone truly distinguishes themselves as THE main leader on this team, we can name him Captain.

  • They are waiting for Lafreniere to be ready for the role. Plain and simple. You never remove a C from someone so if you give it to Kreider or Zibanejad (assuming they re sign him in a few years) then they will wear it for the next almost decade.

    • This is my assumption too Spozo. If the team thought Kreider or Mika were deserving either would have already been named.

      It felt like for a while the team was waiting for a young phenom to hitch it’s captaincy to. Lafreinere feels like what they were waiting for. A captain throughout his junior days with natural leadership.

  • “Both would be exemplary captains of the Rangers”

    Says you!

    During the season(s) leading up to McDonagh getting the “C” the fan base wanted and was pumped when that happened, no one expected it to weigh on him, so how do you write that you know who to pick at all?

    McDonagh was a beast, on the ice and you could see he was leading the club, he was the best pick and no one thought otherwise when he was chosen.

    come on….

    The club is fine as is for now, choosing a “C” isn’t making this team better or worse.

    This is a JD, JG and DQ team, they are the right men to make this call.

    Plus it’s another odd season with the current type of play.

    “.”

  • I am all for a Captain Kreider, but I am also for seeing how Laffy starts off and progresses if the plan is to make our first #1 overall pick be our Captain of the future.

  • I have often thought that Kreider is in many ways the defacto captain of the team anyway since McD has been gone. He is the guy who speaks to the officials most of the time, and it is either him or Zibanejad that they often pair a new rookie for whom they have high hopes to train with in the off season. He also speaks Russian which just has to be a big asset for the club. The four alternates are basically co-captains.

    From NHL.com today:
    “Left wing Chris Kreider spent the past two months of the offseason training with Lafreniere in Connecticut, gaining an appreciation for him as a player and person, his work ethic and his maturity.

    “I don’t think anyone is going to tell a young guy not to worry about expectations because any young guy coming in worth his salt is going to have higher expectations than what anyone else sets for them,” Kreider said. “He should have the highest possible expectations and I know he does. … If there is one thing that I could tell him in terms of expectations it’s just fall in love with the process, which I don’t know that he needs anyone to tell him that because he goes out there and he works hard and he’s always in the moment.”

    So, even if not given the ‘C’, Kreider and the other alternates, Zibanejad, Panarin, and Trouba, are depended upon as leaders on and off the ice. Maybe in time the big kid Lafrenière will be a captain, or at least an Alternate.

  • Don’t understand why some fans and certain writers are fixated on the Rangers naming a captain. The team seems to be doing fine with the 4 alternates we have, naming a captain won’t bring more wins. Now let’s get on with the season and worry about getting into the playoffs. LGR!!!!

  • The fact you point out the C has weighed players down before is the EXACT reason I don’t mind at all if they’re all “alternates.”

    I trust Quinn here. He’s done a great job in feeling out his players and how they react to things. He’s coached a lot of these guys to career years already in a very short tenure. If he feels they don’t need one yet, I’m fine with that. I would hate for Kreider or Zibby’s production to slip due to wearing the C.

    McDonagh, to me, completely changed as a player once he got it. And it wasn’t for the better. I wouldn’t say he was bad, but he wasn’t the same.

  • Excited to see Miller and Lafreniere tonight!

    On a side note (Yes +/- is not everything for a D-man but…)

    Staal GP 892 and a +46
    Brendan Smith GP 478 and a -15
    Jack Johnson GP 937 and -114

  • What if The Government decided not to have a president and now we are all equal. There are no leaders and no followers. No politicians no owners just people doing nothing. No priests no Anarchists’ leaders.
    THAT IS NOT IN THE WORLD WE LIVE IN! Please pull your head out of the hole it’s stuck in. You have good leaders and bad leaders, AV bad, Quinn bad, Keenan great, Messier a god among gods.
    Leaders add a dimension which is not available in everyone. Wimpy people don’t care if there are any leaders because they live tin their wimpy lives wishing everyone else was just as wimpy.
    Are there no Joan of Arc in the group? I say the most dominant player and leader ready is Captain Kreider. The rest are boys among men. If you can jump out of the pool the Kreider did then you could talk.
    I rest my case.

    • It’s not everyday you see Joan of Arc pop up in a Rangers blog, thumbs up.

      (Plus I agree that Kreider is the obvious choice here.)

      • If you really have 2, both would be willing to flip a coin for it.

        In football, we were taught what it meant to be a captain and what you had to do from Pop Warner, and it rotated through the lineup as co-captains.

        Didn’t have captains in frosh ball, but we knew we had one. He was a co-captain as a sophomore, was solo captain as a junior & senior. Went on to captain at Marist.

        Hardest worker/best player/leader of men/listener to people.

  • I like Kreider over Zibanejad, simply because Kreider is more of a “lion” than the quiet and more-reserved Zibanejad. Kreider would not shy in being loud when he has to be. He plays hard (like Zib) and plays the game with seriousness (also, like Zib). I just like Kreider as more of what you want a Captain to be, imo.

  • Team captains are for the fans. Professional sports teams don’t need them, because they are all professionals. The average fan doesn’t know what transpires behind closed doors, in the locker rooms or at practice. Each NHL hockey team probably has a few to several leaders on it’s respective team, with each one serving a purpose. Even the ‘94 Rangers had multiple players, besides the most famous captain-Messier, who were leaders. Look at the Bruins? Chara was their captain, but do you think players only went to him for leadership when you have Bergeron or Marchand sitting in the same room? Rangers will be fine with 4 players wearing the A. Honestly, Kreider is still too inconsistent on the ice and Zibby doesn’t seem to want the baggage that comes with the C. Anointing an 18 rookie the C at this juncture, or even in a few years is just silly.

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