Ryan Callahan was named the 26th captain in Rangers’ history
today. Marc Staal and Brad Richards will
be the alternates.
Callahan’s predecessor, Chris Drury, struggled with age and
injuries and was more of a quiet leader during his time in New York, but the
Rangers’ new captain will be a prototypical lead by example figurehead.
Callahan missed time last season with two broken bones, but
otherwise he had a banner year and set career highs across the board. The right winger dispelled the notion that he
was a just a grinder and took pride last spring when the hockey world
recognized that he was actually a very talented player.
For this hardhat and lunch pail group of young Blueshirts,
turn out to be the ideal leader. New
York has added some skill and will continue to add more in the future, but make
no mistake, Coach John Tortorella loved the identity of his team last season
and wants to make sure that the same blue-collar intensity and high work ethic
continue no matter who is on the ice.
Callahan has a seemingly endless reserve of energy and
epitomizes that attitude. He doesn’t
have a history of stirring locker room speeches and at just 26-years-old, he’s
much younger than traditional captains, but Callahan wears his heart on his
sleeve. In the past, that probably
wouldn’t have been enough to secure Callahan the “C,” but this is a different
group and the philosophy of the front office has changed dramatically over the
last few seasons.
No longer are high-priced free agents and sexy names the
priorities for team-building. Today, the
New York Rangers are focused on cultivating young players with speed, skill and
perhaps most importantly, character.
Callahan was one of the earliest graduates of the new wave
of Rangers and he is the model that the team hopes its other young players will
follow. That’s a tall task, but with
today’s announcement New York has clearly showed its young players that if they
play the right way, put in the time, work their butts off and thrive in the
NHL, they’ll not only be rewarded with fat contracts - as Callahan and others
were this summer - but they’ll have long and respected futures on Broadway ahead of them.
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