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Head coach Alain Vigneault announced before Wednesday night’s game that the Rangers would not name a new team captain this season. The matter would be revisited in the offseason.
For now, the Rangers will roll with three assistant captains: Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Richards.
This isn’t the first time the Rangers have played without a designated captain. After Mark Messier retired following the 2003-04 season, then-coach Tom Renney decided to not elect a captain for the first season after the NHL lockout in 2005-06.
That year, the Rangers finished sixth in the Eastern Conference and were swept in the first round at the hands of the New Jersey Devils.
Now, I can understand Vigneault’s decision to not name a new or even interim captain for the remainder of the season, as it is always a difficult choice.
In this case, however, with all the drama and controversy surrounding Callahan and the magnitude of the trade, I believe it’s important to name a new captain so that everyone can move on.
Not naming a new skipper makes it seem as if Callahan is still the leader of this team. If AV cannot name a new leader, it gives the impression that he feels the trade was a mistake and/or there is nobody on the roster capable of stepping up and filling his shoes.
There’s still a lot of buzz around the team, and there’s bound to be for the remainder of the season and possibly beyond. This team needs stability and the decision to not name a new captain creates even more instability.
Hopefully, the Rangers as a group can find direction without a clear-cut on-ice general.