New York Rangers: 3 Reasons Ryan Callahan Is the Best Captain in the NHL

James Wrabel, Jr.Correspondent IIJune 26, 2012

New York Rangers: 3 Reasons Ryan Callahan Is the Best Captain in the NHL

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    Sprinkled throughout the NHL today are some great leaders among men. The captain's role on an NHL team is in the forefront of the four professional sports and is considered the focal point of the team. Among the stand-out group is New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan—arguably the best captain in the NHL.

    It's a bold claim for a player who just finished his first year as captain and, at 27 years old, has never won a Stanley Cup. Younger counterparts such as Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby already have a Cup at 24 years old. Older veterans such as Shane Doan have been captain for years and have forged their reputation through hard work and experience.

    Fellow American born captain Dustin Brown just won his first championship with Los Angeles, as well.

    So what makes Ryan Callahan stand out from all the rest? Why or how can you consider the Rochester, NY native the best captain in the NHL?

    Let's find out.

Leading by Example

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    The video above is just a snippet of the overall game Ryan Callahan brings to every NHL contest. Aside from dishing out hits that energize the home crowd or his team, Callahan also prides himself on igniting the forecheck, sacrificing his body to block shots and playing with a motor that never quits.

    It doesn't hurt when your captain scores the occasional goal or the occasional hat trick against a division rival. Callahan finished his first campaign as captain with a career high 54 points and nearly his first 30-goal season (29).

    Captains can go either way in how they choose to lead their team, either with their voice behind closed doors or going out and playing the right way and having their teammates follow suit.

    It's safe to say Ryan Callahan is a prime example of leading by example, as his style of play has given the Rangers a blue-collar, workmanlike identity and the mindset to outwork the opposition. It's easy to root for and get behind a player whose style is reminiscent of the every day worker—doing the dirty work to complete the task.

A Calming Influence

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    Hockey is a raw, emotional sport, and the captain is responsible for channeling that emotion in a positive way for his team. Whether it be by stepping up for a teammate, arguing a bad call or giving direction out on the ice, the captain's voice and actions set the tone for the team. 

    In his first year as the team leader, Ryan Callahan displayed the talent necessary to be a great captain for years to come. His older teammates offer respect while the younger players follow his lead.

    The biggest asset Callahan possesses is his even-keeled demeanor. No matter the outcome, Callahan is available to the media to discuss the game and has the same positive outlook whether the team just lost 2-1 or 8-0. What good would it do to fly off the handle or, even worse, refuse to talk to the media after a loss?

    Having your captain display confidence in your team's ability to bounce back after adversity is energizing and a necessary asset towards success. 

The Heart of a Warrior

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    This ties into leading by example, however, when talking about the Rangers specifically because their captain plays with a reckless abandon for his body that exudes respect.

    It's not a requirement for an NHL captain to give up his body, to play his hardest until the final buzzer or to do whatever possible to sway the outcome of the game in his team's favor. But, that's just what Callahan does naturally, making him a perfect fit for the Blueshirts.

    His love for the game outweighs what his mind might tell him is bad for his body, but Callahan truly does have the heart of a warrior, never backing down despite how uphill the climb might be—the greatest trait that separates him from the rest of the NHL. 

    While he doesn't have the hardware yet like his peers, it's only a matter of time before Ryan Callahan hoists a Stanley Cup. He has the desire and the right attitude, and he plays the game the way it should be that one day he will be rewarded.

    The Rangers are a young team on the rise after their eye-opening 2011-12 season, thanks in large part to the leadership of their captain.