The New York Rangers have named Ryan Callahan as the 26th captain in team history. Callahan becomes the first home-grown Rangers' prospect to wear the "C" since Brian Leetch did back in the 1999-2000 season.
Although there was some speculation that Brad Richards was in the running to be captain, I think it was always a one-horse race. Callahan does everything and anything you would expect a captain to do. Forget his on-ice qualifications, we know all about his willingness to do whatever it takes to win.
But it's his off-ice qualifications that will make this work.
Callahan is extremely respected by his teammates. Remember that a captain's role in the locker room is to be the medium between head coach John Tortorella and the rest of the team. If you have a captain who's not respected, then he will fail miserably in this role. For Callahan (and, really, for the organization) this is not a problem. The players respect Callahan, but just as importantly, the coaching staff does as well.
Join me after the jump for more on why Callahan was the right choice.
Another reason why this arrangement is going to work out? Callahan's age. The captain is only 26-years-old, which means Callahan hasn't even hit his prime yet. As a result, the winger will be around for a long time; thus giving the Rangers a long-term captain. This is important for a few reasons; but the main reason is that Callahan will easily be able to see this youth movement through to its completion and he will be around to lead this team to the cup run the organization hopes follows in the near future.
Callahan is also well versed, speaks with the media often and is a respected member of the league. Although what people outside of the organization think about Callahan might seem unimportant, remember that the captain also deals with referees on the ice during games.
The most important reason why this is a good move? The future. Every single kid in the Rangers' system now has a guy to look up to. Callahan is proof that if you work your ass off, good things will come. He probably won't lead the Rangers in any statistical category this year, but there isn't one bad thing you can say about the guy. And I can guarantee that Callahan would have a starting role on any team in the league. That's because of his hustle, not necessarily because of his skill. So when guys are coming through the system, and they're asked to work hard, they can use Callahan as motivation.
Richards will also end up playing a pretty prominent role in this as well. Although Callahan has played with Tortorella for a number of years, there might be a transition period between being a player and being a captain. No one in this league knows Tortorella more than Richards does, and he will surely help Callahan make the transition this season.
Marc Staal was another appropriate choice. Staal wore the "A" last year, and although he's more quiet, he leads by example on the ice. I don't know why, but I always like having a defenseman wear a letter. Although it doesn't really matter who are named captains, I like having the defense represented by a player. Staal did well with his role last year, so there is no reason to assume he won't do great this year too.
I'll have a post coming up in the next few days on why Brandon Dubinsky wasn't selected, and why it