The New York Rangers might finally put the captain’s “C” on a player’s sweater this year.
“I don’t know for sure what’s going to happen, but if I was a betting man, I think we will have a captain on day one,” new head coach Gerard Gallant said. “Day one of the NHL regular season. And it could be before that, we’ll see. If I was a betting man, we’ll have a captain.”
The Rangers have not had a captain since 2018 after they dealt defenseman Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Gallant wasn’t willing to divulge if there were any favorites for the title.
“Captains are important to your team, but 23 guys are more important for me,” Gallant said. “Whoever gets the ‘C’ on our team isn’t going to be alone. We need everybody to be a leader.”
It’s just one of the changes that will be implemented by the former Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights head coach as he tries to help turn around the rebuilding franchise that has not made a proper postseason in four years.
“The biggest thing that I talk about is, make sure that we’re the hardest-working team in the league,” Gallant said. “The skill and the talent are great, but if you don’t have the work ethic to go with it, you’re not going to go a long way.
“Talk is cheap.”
That hard-nosed style of play has been what’s missing from a Rangers franchise that prioritized skill and finesse during the tenure of former team president John Davidson and former general manager Jeff Gorton.
With Chris Drury now at the helm, the Rangers have added some muscle — most notably with the acquisition of Ryan Reaves — as they try to carve their niche in a physical Metropolitan Division that features the hard-nosed Islanders, Boston Bruins, and Washington Capitals.
“Let’s be honest: Everybody has their systems, [but] there’s not a big difference in NHL teams,” Gallant said. “A lot of us do the same things. It’s about executing them and believing in your systems and getting 23 guys to buy in.”