Assessing Jacob Trouba’s first year as Rangers captain

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

To many people outside the New York Rangers organization August 9th, 2022 came as a bit of a surprise. Jacob Trouba was announced as the franchise’s 28th captain in its long history, after an offseason of speculation following the longest captain vacancy in franchise history.

If you scrolled through social media during the offseason, Chris Kreider was almost a lock to be thrusted into that role. He is and was the longest-tenured Ranger at the time and had cemented himself in a leadership role during the Rangers unexpected run to the conference finals in 2022.

A year later, Jacob Trouba silenced most of the doubters with an impactful first season wearing the “C” on his chest.

Rangers captain Jacob Trouba

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Trouba’s captaincy and the teams’ play didn’t start out on the right foot, however. Through the first 26 games of the season, the Rangers found themselves 11-10-5 and losers of five of their previous six games.

“There’s a lot of story left to be written,” Trouba said following a 5-2 loss on home ice against a bad Chicago Blackhawks team. “It’s not a done thing by any means, but it’s going on for a bit now and something needs to change. I think there needs to be a little bit more of a pushback from ourselves within. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”

That game proved to be the turning point for not only the Rangers season but for public opinion on Trouba’s captaincy. His hit on Andreas Athanasiou and subsequent helmet toss to fire up his team seemed to be a message to not just the Rangers fans and players, but also the league, that this is New York Rangers hockey under the direction of Jacob Trouba.

In an exclusive Forever Blueshirts interview with MSG Analyst John Giannone back in December, he recalls how that moment impacted the Rangers season.

“It was an enough of is enough attitude,” Giannone said. “But no one expected what Trouba did. It was surprising since no one throws equipment or a helmet at the general direction of the bench. While there wasn’t too much of a reaction from the them at the time, the players spoke about it over the course of a couple of days and responded.”

Following the loss to Chicago and Trouba’s public display of anger and frustration, the Rangers became one of, if not the hottest team in the league. From December 5th through February 17th the Rangers went 22-4-3 with a +40 goal differential. Trouba himself found another gear during this time as well. Not only did he score half of his goals in this 29-game stretch, but he made it crystal clear in a game against Calgary right after the All-Star break that when he was on the ice, players need to be aware.

“There is a reason why Jacob Trouba was given the captaincy for the Rangers because of the way in which he plays,” said Flames TV analyst Peter Loubardias immediately after Trouba’s bone-crushing hit on Calgary forward Nazem Kadri. “The fans here, once again on their feet as they love the way in which Jacob Trouba plays every single night. He is a leader through and through.”

Loubardias could not have been more right. In a building where echoing chants of “Henrik” and “Igor” have rained down since the early 2000s, the Garden faithful of over 17,000 serenaded with chants of “Trouba” as he was escorted to the penalty box.

Assessing Trouba’s first year as captain

While the season did not end in a long playoff run like fans and those around the organization would have liked, Trouba still cemented his first season as captain with yet another teeth-rattling hit on New Jersey Devils forward Timo Meier in game seven of the first round.

Is Jacob Trouba the best player on the Rangers roster? No. He’s most likely the fourth-best defenseman on the team, but his intangibles and leadership skills that many outside of the organization didn’t know about at this time last year make it abundantly clear that Trouba is the right man for the job. Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Callahan, and even the man who gave Trouba the letter in Chris Drury have shown that captains mean a whole lot more to a team than just goals, assists, and points.

Steven Pappas is a North Jersey native who works as a news anchor and reporter at WHAM-13 in Rochester,... More about Steven Pappas

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