Tonight the New York Rangers announced that Ryan McDonagh is officially the 27th captain of the team (appropriately enough for #27)!
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) October 7, 2014
They also named four alternate captains: Marty St. Louis, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and Derek Stepan.
Having five letter-wearing players is a bit unusual, so I’ve seen some people wondering what’s with the extra leadership. Because no one asked, here are my thoughts!
Marc Staal has been an alternate for several years running now. His contract will be up after this coming season, and with no extension signed over the summer, the Rangers are in a delicate situation if they want to make sure they get a deal done to lock him up. Taking his A would likely be a deal-breaker, I’d imagine.
Marty St. Louis gave up his captaincy in Tampa Bay to come to the Rangers, and his leadership skills are great and obvious enough that some fans considered he might get the C while giving McDonagh another year or two (likely as an alternate) to grow into it. I think the smart thing was to just give it to Mac, and I think giving MSL an A is an obvious choice.
Dan Girardi has worn the A a few times over the last couple years, most notably throughout the end of last season and into the playoffs after then-captain Ryan Callahan was traded to Tampa Bay, leaving the Rangers captainless for the remainder of the season. He’s been on the team a long time and just last year signed a long extension, and so I think it’s a good-faith nod to keep him among the leadership.
Possibly if those three were it, fans might not have questioned things. But the final A handed out was to Derek Stepan, and one thing I wonder is if he was actually an earlier choice in the process, but the decision to put him on LTIR to start the season (requiring him to miss at least 10 games) lead the brass to give a fourth A out to one of the three above who might not have otherwise made the list. Stepan is young and very close friends with McDonagh, and also has an RFA contract ending after this season, at which point the Rangers will be wise to lock him up for the long-term. Giving McDonagh such a good friend to help him lead for going forward seems like a really smart idea to me.
So I am happy with this announcement and these choices. I can start saving up for a new jersey–McDonagh with the C!–and now Thursday’s season opener can’t come fast enough! Let’s go Rangers!