By Eric Bancker
Chris Drury has always been a guy who can come up big in the clutch when his team needs him. He has scored many big goals in his career, he has won a Stanley Cup, he also has been the captain of two NHL teams, the Sabres and Rangers. Drury has always been renowned for his leadership skills and has been called a natural born leader. Now with all that being said, even though he has been the captain of two teams, is he really the captain the Rangers need? Or is it time for a change in New York?
On July 1st, 2007 ex-Buffalo Sabre, Chris Drury signed a five-year/$35.25 million contract with the New York Rangers. Drury was the captain of the Buffalo Sabres and it was expected that once Jaromir Jagr wasn't a member of the team anymore that he would be named the 25th captain in Rangers history.
Drury was named an alternate captain during the 2007-2008 season and he played well in his first season with the Rangers. He had 25 goals and 33 assists also collecting 29 points on the powerplay and also continued being the clutch player that he always has been by netting seven game winning goals. Drury was able to lead the Rangers to a first round series win against the New Jersey Devils in the playoffs but they fell short to Pittsburgh in the next round.
The very next summer the Rangers decided to let Jaromir Jagr walk via free agency and he signed in the KHL with Avangard Omsk. Then on October 3rd, 2008 Chris Drury was named the captain of the New York Rangers.
Drury's first year as captain of the Rangers was successful to a certain extent. He had another good season, scoring 20 goals for the second straight year. But it seemed all season that the Rangers just decided to give up in games and Drury's leadership was nowhere to be found. Thus prompting Rangers management to make a coaching change and let go of the mild-mannered Tom Renney and bring in the head-case that is John Tortorella. The Rangers were able to slip into the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round by the Washington Capitals after they had held a 3-1 series lead.
Now taking a look at this season, Drury had the lowest amount of points he has ever had in his career (32). He really never showed any sort of leadership throughout the entire season, I know he isn't the vocal leader but he still didn't show any sort of ability to lead this team. He was bounced around between the 3rd and 4th lines and the Rangers fell flat on their face in the last game of the season and missed the playoffs for the first time since the lockout.
The one thing that sold me that this team doesn't really fall in with Drury as the captain was when the Rangers were in Calgary and he was blind-sided by Curtis Glencross, not one Rangers player went after Glencross after he hit him. A team should be standing up for their captain, the Rangers didn't and that raises some eyebrows.
Now the Rangers are looking to bounce back and Glen Sather has added a bunch of new names to the mix in New York. Should Drury be the guy to lead the team moving forward? For me that answer is easy, no.
Now how would the Rangers go about finding a new captain?
Ryan Callahan would be a great choice...in about five years. He has great leadership qualities but he isn't exactly ready to be taking charge of the team.
Marian Gaborik is without a doubt the best offensive player this team has, but he might not be ready to take over as captain. He's a good candidate though, he has a lot of energy out on the ice and that sort of thing can rub off on other players. But being a captain isn't all about having a high energy level, he needs to be able to lead.
Vinny Prospal is another energetic player who might fit well as a captain. I think he can teach they young guys coming up through the system and that's what you want from your captain.
Henrik Lundqvist is my final candidate. The Canucks named Luongo their captain so why not Lundqvist in New York? He is a guy who never quits, he hates to lose, and he's not afraid to show emotion out on the ice. He's definitely a guy the Rangers could name captain and I think he would do a phenomenal job.
But as of right now the Rangers should strip Chris Drury of his captaincy and go into this season without a captain, as they did in 2005-2006. Name Callahan, Gaborik, and Prospal as the alternate captains and let one of them emerge as a true leader, or maybe someone who I didn't name can rise to the challenge.
Either way, if the Rangers don't find themselves a good enough leader they will drown once again this season.