The New York Rangers announced last night via twitter that the team will announce the captains for the 2011-12 season today. The decision to announce the captains now is interesting considering when the season ended coach John Tortorella was insistent that the captaincy would not be decided until training camp. Part of me takes the change in the timing to mean that it could be something that might not be popular with the fans, but that could just be reading too much into what is to come later today.
My final predictions on who will be named the captains.
Captain: Ryan Callahan
Ryan Callahan is the epitome of the identity that coach John Tortorella has been trying to build with the team over the past few seasons. A tough, hard-nosed player that does everything to help his team win and added offense to his package last season is a worthy candidate. Add to that the fact that he was already the de-facto captain last season with the absence of Chris Drury. Also working in Callahan’s favor is the fact that he gives many of the cliché responses interviews, which appears to be what Tortorella likes in his captains in dealing with the media. The biggest thing working against Callahan is his injuries and whether they want someone who is more likely to be on the ice for the full season.
Alternate: Marc Staal
Marc Staal could be a darkhorse to get the ‘C,’ and I personally would give it to him, but it feels like a longshot to happen. Staal should be guaranteed an “A” this season as he is an incumbent letter holder who earned it last season. He is the leader of the defense corps, and outside of Henrik Lundqvist arguably the most irreplaceable player and his value to the Rangers is something they will recognize.
Alternate: Brad Richards
Brad Richards history with coach John Tortorella, experience as a letter wearer with multiple teams and Stanley Cup all work for him. The only thing really working against Richards is the fact that he was not on the team last year and how the organization has talked up the younger home grown players becoming the leaders of the team.
The decision on what the Rangers do with the second will be very telling of what they see as the direction of the team. They can go with Richards who has the credentials to warrant the position if not the outright captaincy or they could go with another homegrown player like Brandon Dubinsky or Dan Girardi who typify what the Rangers have been striving to make the team all about. I still believe that Richards will get the nod for at least an ‘A’ and it will leave players who would be deserving of a letter without one on their sweater.