So much for speculation. The Rangers won’t have a captain again. For a second straight season, they will go with just alternates. Coach David Quinn decided to give the A’s to the best possible candidates, who have been here a while.
As expected, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal and Jesper Fast are those four players. All are team leaders, who’ll help make the transition easier for first-year players Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox and Libor Hajek. Eventually, they’ll be rejoined by Filip Chytil, Vitali Kravtsov and Ryan Lindgren.
There’s nothing wrong with going with four alternates instead of having a traditional captain. I’ve referenced Staal before as one of the team leaders due to being around almost as long as Henrik Lundqvist, who doesn’t need a letter on his jersey. The guys with the most experience know what it takes.
So do Kreider, Zibanejad and Fast. All of whom were around for the good times when this team contended. They’ll set a good example for the younger players to learn from. That includes Lias Andersson, Brett Howden and other young players like Brendan Lemieux and Tony DeAngelo.
Given that they also have Brendan Smith, who apparently is expected to be in the lineup on the fourth line for tomorrow’s home opener, there are enough voices in the locker room to make it work.
It’ll be interesting to watch the season unfold. While eight teams get going tonight, the Rangers will be in action for real on Thursday against the Jets. We’ll see how it goes.