This has been a popular topic of discussion recently. After Brandon C.'s article regarding his changed opinion on the captaincy issue, I got to thinking about it more as well. This is a decision with implications far beyond this season. This decision will carry on through this new generation of Rangers, and come to define the final product we are "rebuilding" towards. This could be the man who (KNOCK ON WOOD, this works people, I knocked on wood basically all throughout Super Bowl XLII and it worked tremendously) is next to lift the Stanley Cup in a Ranger sweater, a moment we all dream of.
I think it's quite obvious to anybody that follows the Rangers that the next Captain of this team should be either Ryan Callahan or Brandon Dubinsky. Nick had an excellent article on the two of them the other day. Both of these guys have basically completed the transformation from prospects to the heart and soul of this Ranger team. This used to be a team without an identity (besides the word "Lundqvist"). Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky have become the basis for the new identity of this team, a team that works hard, never gives up, and grinds out every single shift.
Therefore, the debate comes down to these two when thinking about the future Captain of the New York Rangers. Callahan or Dubinsky? Surely everyone has their own opinion, I'm just trying to get all of these thoughts down regarding the issue. First the 2010-11 stats:
Callahan: 15-15-30, Dubinsky: 19-24-43. A captaincy debate, however, is like an iceberg, and goes well beneath the surface.
Callahan plays with more heart than just about anybody out there. Watching him play is a joy, because he plays every shift at 100%. Is he the most talented player on the team? Nope, he sometimes isn't even the most talented player on his own line. If there is any debate against Callahan this would probably be it. However, Callahan's constant grinding style is instrumental in the new identity of this team, as mentioned above. A large majority of our goals come off of gritty plays either on the forecheck or crashing the net. These plays are either begun by Callahan or have been inspired by the way he plays. When someone on the team plays like Callahan, the other members of the team feel compelled to follow him and play like him. It truly puts the rest of the team on another level. Callahan isn't the biggest guy out there either, and when he's out there hitting and working his tail off against larger competition it only reinforces the way he plays: Give it all you got, all the time, regardless of how large, talented, or "superior" your opponent is. It starts with one, and this season I feel it is really spreading to the rest of the team. Callahan also has a knack for finding that extra gear when it's needed most, coming through in the clutch and finding a way to keep the Rangers in the game or put it away for good. Better analyses of Callahan's play have been written, and I'm just trying to touch on points related to the captaincy.
A very strong argument can also be made for Brandon Dubinsky. Frankly, I love the guy. I remember watching him play when he came up and thinking "This guy's gunna be special one day." I maintain that opinion, and this year it may finally be starting to show on a larger scale. Dubinsky leads the team in points and assists, and is tied with Boyle for the lead in goals. His goal scoring has leaped up this year, and he really carried the team in the beginning of the year when Gaborik and Drury went down in the home opener. Dubinsky goes hard every shift, like Callahan. Dubinsky definitely has the edge in talent, and he has combined that with the all-out mindset of Callahan to show a determination to score. This year one gets the feeling that he can create a scoring chance whenever he touches the puck, whether it's by himself or by finding the right teammate. His stick handling has improved and he doesn't shy away from challenging defenders one-on-one when he has to. Everything is starting to click for #17, and it's been great watching him turn it on this year. Like Callahan, he is finding a way to kick it up a notch in the clutch. Brandon Dubinsky steps up when the Rangers need him the most.
One play that especially sticks out to me is the game-winner from the OT win in Pittsburgh earlier this year. He made a great play to keep the puck away from the defender and then set up (who else?) Ryan Callahan with a beautiful pass that he put away for the victory.
If there is one play I had to choose to showcase what these two mean to this team, that would be it. It never gets old for me (and against the Pens made it even sweeter): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xenxq3RJbYo
They are our dynamic duo (and we thought it would be Gomez and Drury...). Cally and Duby exemplify how a TEAM should work.
When it comes down to it, most of us won't be angry over which one gets it, because they are both deserving (and the other one should definitely be an "A"). I could even see both of them getting a "C" but I doubt it will happen. I think either of them represents this team well enough to proudly wear the "C." If I had to personally pick I would select Callahan because I believe his play inspires the whole team, and that is the mark of a true captain.
Feel free to comment.