The New York Rangers on Monday announced that Ryan Callahan has been named captain, a move that was well deserved and very much anticipated. The right winger becomes the 26th captain in team history, its fifth youngest and first homegrown captain since Brian Leetch.
The Blueshirts also announced that Marc Staal will still be an assistant captain, while new Rangers, Brad Richards, will assume the other A, one that Callahan held for the past two seasons.
Beyond possessing the leadership qualities any organization looks for, the 26-year-old Callahan is a heart and soul player who never takes a shift off . He really become the unofficial captain last year when Chris Drury (bought out, then retired) was injured for much of the year. Callahan will go to bat for any one of his teammates and plays a gritty, high-energy style that coach John Tortorella has preached since he's been coach. His work ethic alone is worthy of this honor, and he he really is a great role model for his teammates and just the type of player any organization would want to wear its C. When he wasn't in the lineup, his loss was immediately noticed this past season (see: playoffs against the Capitals). He signed a three-year deal this offseason.
General manager Glen Sather in a statement:
"Ryan Callahan embodies all the leadership qualities we seek from our Captain. He leads by example with courage and tireless work ethic on and off the ice, which is why he is so deserving of this honor."
Keeping the A on Staal's jersey is also a very good move for the Blueshirts. Two homegrown players, one a shutdown defenseman whom the team has built around and has become a leader in the organization, is a very good move. Richards commands respect because he's a veteran in the league and that he held the A for Tortorella when he coached in Tampa Bay.
Speaking to the media, Tortorella said of Callahan:
"We're a straight ahead team, a hard-working club, no nonsense. Who am I talking about? The club or Cally? That's the way he is."
"It's a privilege and an honor to wear the C, but how I am going to approach it is the same as when I wore an A. With things on the ice and off the ice, I feel there's a reason I got the A, and I am going to continue that now with the C. I have to continue to do what I do and not have a letter on my sweater affect my game or how I approach a game. It's a little bit surreal, to be honest, but it's nice to see my dedication and hard work has paid off here."
If one thing's for certain, these Rangers of the past few years have slowly built a tream that does things the right way, and it starts with giving the C to a player who embodies the red, white and blue. 2011-2012 could be an exciting one in New York. Rangers open training camp Friday.