Two things happened within this past week that prompted this short series of thoughts. First, the New York Rangers announced a trade for Dan Carcillo, a vile figure both in his Ovechkinesque visage, and in his on-ice actions which at times are simply disgusting. Also this week I had the pleasure of watching both my children’s first skating lesson, which was as memorable as it was funny to watch. These events coupled with enjoying the games on Saturday and Monday got me thinking. If a goon like Carcillo is on Broadway how do I explain to young, impressionable child what players to emulate and which ones just to endure until they are sent to Hartford. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against fighting in hockey. I love the passion in the sport, the team unity it provides, and especially the charge in the crowd when someone answers the bell. I just don’t approve of the cheap shots, and vicious attacks that could end what amounts to a young person’s career. So, because of the bad taste in my mouth from the Carcillo deal, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at a couple of players whom I believe are heroes, or at least should be, in the eyes of the young getting their first taste of hockey. These players, regardless of statistical performance, share certain characteristics that make them the solid role models.
Ryan Callahan Did I really need to start with anyone else? In my humble opinion, Ryan is a consummate professional who would be just as successful leading a troop of Soldiers as he is in the locker room. He is quiet and leads through his actions, on occasion literally breaking his body to help his team. I have personally never seen the Captain, even before he was Captain, take a shift off or give up on a back-check (I’m looking at you Richards.) Ryan is a terrific example of what a captain should be as he continues to carve his niche in the pantheon of great New York sports captains.
Mats Zuccarello The lone NHL player who will be representing Norway in Sochi made tremendous strides toward the top of my list. "The Hobbit", as he is affectionately referred to has established himself not only as one of the statistical leaders, but also the spark plug from which the engine that is the New York Rangers thrives. He stands every inch of his 5’7" frame face-to-upper torso with any lumbering, knucke-dragging, behemoth of a man who attempts to keep him away from the crease. Fearlessly, Mats displays the courage of his Scandinavian heritage every shift, every night, while making a fraction of the salary of some players for his sacrifice.
Dominic Moore After exploding for two goals on Saturday for only the fifth time in his career and notching an assist on Monday, many would believe it is his offensive prowess that prompts his inclusion on the short list. It is not. Dominic’s career can be summed up with the word perseverance. Playing for nine teams the last ten years as a third and fourth line workhorse. Killing penalties against the league’s best on every team he’s played for. Dominic has never been a glory seeker, he brings his hard hat to work every day, embodying the team spirit. Not to mention sacrificing a year of his career away from the game for a year while tending to well-documented family issues. Dominic is the role-player any team would be happy to have, and as we all know, hockey immortality is achieved when every role-player is bought-in to the team mentality and does his job.
So who do we cheer for? The Rangers locker room is full of players who not only are skilled hockey players, but professional role models as well. Of course there is no correct answer. I for one will be, begrudgingly, cheering for the goon when he eventually dresses for a game, the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back. But as a person, these would be the models I would be thrilled for my son to emulate. I’d let my daughter date any of them if they weren’t twenty years apart and it would be incredibly creepy. To truly be a fan of a player they don’t necessarily need to light up the scoreboard, they need to be good men. I wouldn’t complain about a few goals though.
I’d love to know what everyone thinks, please share your thoughts on Ranger heroes of today, or the past if you’d like.
and of course,
Lets Go Rangers!