Ryan McDonagh adjusts to life as captain
Outwardly, Ryan McDonagh is saying all the right things. As the newly-named captain of the New York Rangers, the 25-year-old blueliner has been workmanlike and humble in nearly every interview he has given, just as he is on the ice. And certainly his latest “Welcome to RangersTown” commercial featuring McDonagh giving a young girl a driving lesson on a Zamboni has more than held its own.
He is everything you would want in a captain…but should there still be cause for concern?
Through the first eight games of the season as captain, McDonagh has done little to resemble the Norris-trophy candidate that many project him to be. Last year, the former first-round draft choice of the Montreal Canadiens recorded 14 goals and 29 assists in 77 games during the regular season and led the Blueshirts in the postseason with 17 points in 25 playoff contents.
In eight games this season, McDonagh has just two assists, is a plus-1, and has recorded just 22 shots on goal while failing to establishing himself on the blueline on the power-play in the absence of injured Dan Boyle.
Is this reason to panic? After just eight games and the Rangers holding a somewhat disappointing .500 record, probably not. There’s every reason to believe that McDonagh will find his game and once again become a dominant force on the blueline. Still, could the added pressure of wearing the “C” be getting to the 25-year-old, the 28th captain in the storied history of the Ranger’s franchise?
It’s certainly happened before. For those of you old enough to remember, the next “savior” of the Rangers in the early 1980s, hulking defenseman Barry Beck, wore the “C” for five years on Broadway but never lived up to expectations. And more recently, Chris Drury, after coming to New York as a free agent, carried the “C” for nearly three years but could never get up to speed due to an assortment of injuries.
Will there be a replay with McDonagh? Will the pressure of Broadway’s bright lights be too much to bare for the talented rearguard?
If I were a betting man, my money would be on McDonagh bouncing back. He’s too smart, works too hard, is too well grounded, and simply has too much talent to let the “C” weigh him down. Allowing 10 games for an adjustment period seems fair. Expect to see the “old” McDonagh as the season moves along, which is certainly welcome news for the Rangers and their fans.