February 3, 2021

Rangers should name Kreider the captain as the perfect bridge to either Lafreniere or Miller

K’Andre Miller has been awesome this season (Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images)

A lot has been written and said this season about the New York Rangers. In the wake of the blown leads, injuries, and off-ice issues some feel that a lack of leadership is part of the problem.

I couldn’t disagree more.

Hockey players don’t follow letters, they follow leaders

The Rangers leadership group is not just the players with the letter “A” sewn onto their jersey. As we have been finding out, younger players are showing their mettle and emerging as leaders on this team too.

Take for instance 19 year-old rookie Alexis Lafreniere. Yes, he only has one goal on the season but watch him closely. Watch how he carries himself on the ice. Watch how he interacts with his teammates. Watch how they interact with him.

Lafreniere could easily be dejected and it could show on his face with every great chance that doesn’t go in. Trust me, it would be acceptable as even far more highly touted prospects and well established superstars are prone to it. Yet there he is, every game, every shift working hard and being a positive force.

Now let’s talk about 21 year-old rookie K’Andre Miller. His on ice play speaks for itself. The way he carries himself on the ice is almost majestic. The kid has poise, courage, skill, and grace. He doesn’t crack under pressure and is supportive of teammates.

One positive note in the Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev dust-up was learning Miller broke it up. What’s more amazing is finding out Miller called DeAngelo to check in on him and see how he was doing.

Leadership – not defined by a letter, but by actions.

Chris Kreider is the de facto captain

Chris Kreider
Kreider brings it every game (Getty Images)

While fans want Mika Zibanejad to be captain, and I’m sure he would make a great one – even he would love for Chris Kreider to be the captain. They are close friends both on and off the ice and the bond between them is obvious.

Kreider is also the longest tenured member of the Rangers on the roster. For the last 9 seasons, the 29 year-old has worn the Broadway Blue proudly. He’s always front and center and tells his teammates the hard truths.

On the night of the locker-room incident, he was talking to the media and his long pause before speaking makes even more sense now. After composing himself, he voiced frustration with the team’s almost stubborn refusal to play simple north-south hockey with a lead late in the third.

It obviously was a message well received as the Rangers won their next game 3-1 against the Penguins. A powerful message during a rough time for the team, a message a captain gives and his team listens.

The perfect bridge to the next captain

This leads me to my point. Make Chris Kreider the captain and let him hold the letter until either Lafreniere or Miller are ready to assume the mantle.

He’s the de facto leader of all the assistant captains anyway. It would make sense to let him show them what it means to wear that “C” on your chest. And even if he’s still here for the entire length of his deal which goes into 2026-27, Chris is the type of person that would relinquish it to either Alexis or K’Andre.

Matter of fact, he would probably do it with a great sense of pride. In doing so with the knowledge he helped groom them to take the torch into the next decade of Rangers hockey.

What a legacy that would be for a true Ranger.

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