When the season started, the Rangers decided to forego naming a captain, going with four alternates instead. This made logical sense at the time, as it was going to be difficult to choose between the two front runners: Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. As the season has progressed, there is one clear answer now. It is time for Chris Kreider to be named captain of the New York Rangers.
Kreider has always had a knack for timely goals, especially in the playoffs. But the rub, at least according to his detractors, was he takes games and stretches of games off. Zibanejad’s struggles aside, which have nothing to do with his status as a leader of the team, it’s been Kreider that has stepped up this season as the Rangers struggled with staying healthy.
On The Ice
Over the last few weeks, the Rangers have been riddled with injuries and COVID list restrictions. As the Rangers dropped like flies, forcing them to dress an AHL roster, it was Kreider who stepped up. Over the last two weeks (seven games), Kreider has put up nine goals and two assists.
All this is without Artemi Panarin, the Rangers go-to game breaker. The Rangers struggled in this stretch, understandably, given the roster they were dressing. But it was Kreider who kept them relevant throughout this stretch. It’s been behind Kreider’s play on the ice that the Rangers are now just four points out of a playoff spot and rising.
Off The Ice
We aren’t really privy to what goes on off the ice unless it makes news. But we do see little things here and there of the Rangers as they close out games. It’s Kreider who is the last off the ice, making sure to congratulate everyone after a win. It’s Kreider who is there to celebrate with a teammate that had a strong game. Whenever you see a celebration at the door, it’s usually Kreider.
It’s also Kreider that is available to the media after tough losses or after tough locker room issues. We all joke about Kreider’s knuckles after the infamous DeAngelo/Georgiev fight. But it was Kreider who was available to the media after that.
There’s definitely more to leadership than being available and producing when the team needs it. But this team seems to rally around Kreider. When he talks, others listen.
It’s time the Rangers name Chris Kreider captain. It’s just the logical choice now.