It was as inevitable as raised ticket prices at MSG - Ryan Callahan was named the captain of the Rangers this morning.
Callahan was the obvious and expected selection, albeit one that was expected to be made next week. He was the pro tem captain last season when Drury battled his injuries so he steps into a familiar role. His heart and dedication to the franchise is unquestioned and his playing style has long made him a fan favourite. As we have seen in his interviews, Cally has matured from a fresh-faced kid a few years ago into a man that the guys in the room and around the league respect. He is a fantastic choice.
However, I wouldn't be me if I didn't see the possible gray clouds lurking on the horizon.
As I wrote in the Captain Conundrum, the Blueshirts did not step up at the sight of the injured Callahan before an important game against Atlanta on April 7th and had one of their worst performances of the entire season. You can respect someone without following that person's lead. I respect the Dalai Lama but I am not a Buddhist.
The other concern is the obvious - Callahan gets injured. Annually. His 100 percent style puts his body in the line of fire and it takes a toll on him. As my buddy Phil pointed out to me, as a captain he is Brendan Morrow. Unquestioned passion and ability but a tendency to miss time because of it. In his five seasons as captain, Morrow has made it through two of them unscathed. Cally has yet to play a full 82 regular season games in his NHL career.
That is where the Alternates will come in. Marc Staal retained his A from last year and Brad Richards, who wore that letter in both Dallas and Tampa, will join him. Richards' experience makes the decision a no-brainer, despite the perceived oversight of Brandon Dubinsky. One of Dubi's most endearing qualities is his occasional hot-headedness, so perhaps it is for the best that the more experienced, more level-headed veteran gets the A instead. That being said,
Today's decision puts the team in a far better position then they were in the last few seasons. Jagr was famously moody on and off the ice and Chris Drury was more concerned with celebrating holidays than winning hockey games. Unlike the two of them, Callahan was raised a Ranger and now he is in a position to lead the team to the next level. Let's just hope he stays healthy enough to do it.