Captain Kreider: The choice is clear for the Rangers
Coming off an impressive 9-1-1 stretch going into Thanksgiving Day, the New York Rangers are one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League.
They are getting clutch goaltending, solid defense and the offense has found it’s touch. This team plays physical and relentless, and I challenge you to find a team quicker on the ice. In a season of immense change, a leader has emerged from the pack.
He leads the team in goals with 12 and points with 20. He is as tenacious as they come and you’d be hard pressed to find a faster and more powerful skater. He’s on pace to shatter all of his previous point total records. The name is Kreider, Chris Kreider, and he should be named the 28th captain in New York Rangers history.
Being the captain of an original six franchise is something that any player would consider one of the highest honors in the sport. You are the main representative of your team, you are the one that your teammates look to in times of hardship and you are the first one to get your team fired up when they need it. Whether vocal, or more of a lead by example type, the captain needs to prove that he can in fact lead in his own way.
Kreider has shown the fans, management and the coaching staff exactly what they have wanted to see this season. He is fast, physical and relentless. Head Coach David Quinn has seemingly unleashed the beast within Kreider, and the 27-year-old from Boxford, Massachusetts is playing the best hockey of his entire career. The consistency is now there. Kreider no longer looks like the player who scores in bunches or takes shifts off, he looks like the player who knows how good he can be and is doing everything to achieve it.
Kreider has the ability to lead by example and vocally as well. He has been through a lot in his NHL career up until this point. Remember, Kreider made his electric debut during the 2012 run to the Eastern Conference Final and he’s been under the bright lights ever since. He can speak to guys like Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson and explain to them how they have to block out the noise and just play their game. He’s been there before. He was the prized rookie at one point.
Kreider has had to deal with a coach who seemingly never gave him the chance he deserved in John Tortorella. Remember, Kreider was sent up and down to Hartford and wasn’t given any leash to fix his mistakes under Tortorella; and with so many rookies on the team, including Chyti, Andersson, Brett Howden, and Neal Pionk to name a few, Kreider can give this new generation advice from how he dealt with the benchings or being in the press box. He can help them understand that things will only go up and remind them to keep working as hard as they can. Kreider has experienced these hardships.
Kreider also been a Ranger long enough that he is basically a grizzled veteran at this point. Ok, yes he’s only 27, but in terms of the roster makeup of the New York Rangers, he is a grizzled veteran. He has the necessary experience to help lead this team through whatever dark patches they might face. Kreider has been through the battles of the 2012 ECF run, the 2014 run to the Stanley Cup Final and the 2015 ECF run as well. He knows what it takes to go through the playoffs, he knows the intensity and drive that it takes to succeed. And although the Rangers haven’t won the cup in his time with the team, he has been very close to the mountaintop. Having a captain who has all this experience in playoff battles and wars will prove invaluable to the Rangers as they move forward in this rebuild.
Kreider is intense, well respected in the locker room, has the respect of his coaches, plays on the first power-play unit and is basically has been the Rangers best offensive threat since he came back from blood clot surgery. He is on pace for over 40 goals this year, which would by far be the best mark of his career. Most importantly, he’a a home grown guy. He was drafted in the first round, 19th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and he’s gone from A-level prospect to rookie to inconsistent player to the Rangers‘ best offensive threat. Chris Kreider should be the 28th captain of the New York Rangers and it’s not even close.