In a recent blog over at Rangers Rants, Andrew Gross stated that he forgot to ask coach John Tortorella if there would be any changes amongst the captains, or would Chris Drury, Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal all remain with letters on their jerseys? That got me thinking.
Whether we like it or not, Drury is going to remain captain of this team until his contract expires at the conclusion of next season. I personally think he is one of the more underrated captains in the NHL. Sure, he isn't as flashy as a Sidney Crosby, but he does the little things that you look for in a player who is the captain of a team, especially one with the history of the New York Rangers.
The days of Drury putting up big-time numbers are long gone. What you can expect, though, is a guy who will throw his body in front of shots, kill penalties and grind. He gives 100 percent every shift, and never gives up on a play.
Would I like to see him put up more points? Of course.
Although it isn't his doing, Drury is making $7 million per season. Everyone, especially him, knows he has to have a better season than the one he had last, but his work ethic rubs off on those around him.
One of the players Drury has made better is assistant captain and Team USA teammate Ryan Callahan, who seemed destined for a letter since his rookie season. He plays a very similar style as that of Drury, but uses his age to his advantage.
I've never seen a player hustle and work every shift the way Callahan does, and it certainly caught Tortorella's eye last season, when he was named assistant.
Like Drury, we'd all like to see more production from Callahan in the scoring department. Will he ever be a solid 30 goal guy? Probably not.
Can he be a nice 55 point guy? Certainly. On top of that, he kills penalties and hits anything that moves. He deserves his "A" again this season.
Finally, there is Prospal. When you speak of heart and determination, look no further than Prospal. Unfortunately, I think it is time for someone else to step up and take on the leadership role of this team, and that player is Marc Staal.
Staal, who still hasn't been signed by the Blueshirts, has all the makings of a future captain. He's a big, brooding defenseman whose game is void of all the glitz and glamour of other defenseman in the league. He is an old-school, stay-at-home defenseman who is the cornerstone of this organization's future on the blueline.
Other's on the team I'd give a look at either next year or down the line are Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky, Michael Del Zotto, and yes, Sean Avery.
Like Gross said in his blog, giving Gaborik the "A" should hopefully make him a bigger leader in the dressing room. He already leads by example on the ice, but could potentially be the voicebox for the boys in the locker room.
In Dubinsky's case, I don't believe that as long as Tortorella is coaching this team will ever wear a letter on his jersey. Holding out last summer really hurt Brandon in Tortorella's eyes. Holding out isn't what a leader does. (I know people will say that Staal is doing that now, but in his case it is warranted.)
Del Zotto is still a few years away, but aside from Staal, is really the only guarantee on the blueline for years to come. He just turned 20, and has many years ahead of him. He can defintely be the next Brian Leetch.
Sean Avery will never wear a letter on his jersey due to the antics and Jekyll-and-Hyde persona he can't seem to shake. You sometimes don't know what type of player you're going to get with Sean on a nightly basis.
He's either grabbing the spotlight or is invisible. Also, his relationship with officials prevents him from ever getting a call for his team.
In the end, though, the real captain of this team is between the pipes in Henrik Lundqvist.