Thursday, January 13, 2011

Leadership Dictates Drury Step Aside; Elevate Callahan, Letter Dubinsky

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
When Chris Drury signed with the New York Rangers on July 1, 2007 the expectation was they were getting a very good two way forward that was known as a great leader and a clutch performer.  Chris was all of those things his first year and with the departure of captain Jaromir Jagr to the KHL following the season on October 3, 2008 he was named the 25th captain of the New York Rangers.  I personally was very happy with the decision to make him the captain when it happened and even for his second season in New York, first as captain, was satisfied with his play even if it would never match the contract he was awarded.  Now the time has come to reevaluate Drury’s viability as the captain of this hockey club as much for what others are doing and proving they can handle as what Chris is no longer doing.

All season the Rangers have talked about their young core and building around them, having them be the ones that in their maturation lead this team and the reality is they have had that happen to an extent I do not believe they could have imagined all at once.  You have had Ryan Callahan take the reins of the club and lead it as not just an assistant but the captain of the team.  You have had Marc Staal accept the responsibility of his letter and use it as fuel to elevate his own game while leading his defensive core.  It is obvious those two should retain their letters, but what we have failed to see is the leadership that is befitting of wearing the ‘C’ from the man who currently holds that honor, Chris Drury.  Giving up his captaincy to fully turn the team over to the youth would be the best act of leadership Drury has brought to this organization.

I do not want to diminish the intangibles that Chris Drury brings to the team on the ice or in the locker room as I think they are important to the club in significant ways.  What I am saying however is that those things he brings he can bring without the benefit of the title and that the organization long terms would benefit from allowing the young players to assume the mantle of leadership in an official capacity.  Personally I believe the title has become a burden on Drury and shedding off it might help his performance on the ice where he has become basically a 10-12 minute role player instead of the two-way second line player he was signed to be for the club. 

Let Callahan take the ‘C’ and I do not mean next year or when Drury’s contract is over, but right now for he has earned, Staal have the ‘A’ be made permanent instead of this until Vinny Prospal comes back scenario and finally give Brandon Dubinsky a letter with the other ‘A’ as he has earned it on and off the ice this season with his leadership.  I have all the respect in the world for Drury and Prospal for what they bring in the room, and I would expect as veterans all that they bring would be given in the same amount and taken in with the same respect by the others in the room regardless of them having a letter on their sweater.  My hope though is this is not some sort of coup or that the organization has to do it, rather that in the spirit of the leadership everyone praises Drury for showing that he does it in the best interest of the club.

The reality is neither of Drury or Prospal is part of the future of this organization and if you want to truly build around this core give them the keys to the team in every way.  The core has taken the responsibility for the team and is the driving force for why the team stands in the position it does today so now is the time to give them he titles that go with what they mean.