Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. So much for a slow August!
If you read my last blog (which was posted two nights ago), I talked about how a rumor concerning Jimmy Vesey returning to New York was the top story of Rangerstown, USA. That’s how slow things were. (And in update to that story – Vesey still remains as an unrestricted free agent. For that matter, ditto Nazem Kadri.)
48 hours later, a burning question (and a question that just celebrated its fourth birthday this past February), has been finally been answered, as in, “who will become the next captain of the New York Rangers?”
Your answer, Jacob Trouba, who now has the chance to be come the second Rangers’ defenseman of franchise history to lead the team to a Stanley Cup victory. (Art Coulter did it first, in 1940.)
There’s a lot to get into, so let’s start in chronological order.
Just a little after midnight, on Tuesday, August 9th, it was Kevin Weekes who broke the story via Twitter:
**Breaking News** 🚨📰
I’m told the @NYRangers are naming D @JacobTrouba the next Captain of #NYR within 24 hours. @espn @NHL @NHLNetwork @TheGarden #HockeyTwitter 🍎 🗽. pic.twitter.com/EbKJlQoHMZ
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) August 9, 2022
Give it up for Weekes, who continues to earn his title of “The Bob McKenzie of his generation.”
No other NHL “insiderrr” uses the mediums available to him, both television and social media, better than the former Rangers’ goaltender – and perhaps one day – a future NHL general manager too.
(Prior to Mike Grier being hired in San Jose; it felt like Weekes would eventually become the first black general manager of NHL history. Today, who knows?
Weekes is so damn good at what he does, and it seems like the charismatic former player has fun doing it too – so much so – that maybe this is the career path he’ll continue to go down. Should he ever join an NHL front office, it would be a major blow to a hockey media that desperately needs talent such as Weekes.)
And oh, if you’re keeping track – chalk up another major breaking Rangers’ news story for someone outside of the NYR beat reporters. But hey, no one can tell you more about a kale sandwich better than most of the NYR beat! At least they have that going for them!
Alas, I digress!
Let me say this off of puck drop before continuing – congratulations to Jacob Trouba.
I wish him nothing but success. I truly believe that he wanted this honor bestowed upon him, and I also truly believe that he will flourish in his new role.
Furthermore, and as I’ll repeat a few more times during this blog – Trouba was the man that Chris Drury, Gerard Gallant, and the players themselves, wanted as captain.
Whatever we think as fans, it doesn’t matter.
We don’t see what goes on behind closed doors. We don’t know what goes on in the locker room. We don’t know what goes on in the hotels. We don’t know what goes on during the near one hundred flights per season.
While we can make educated guesses based on what we see on television and what we see at the rink; at the end of the day, the general manager, the head coach and the players know what they want – and they know what’s best too.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s address the elephant in the room (and it’s not about some of these hair buns that some of these male NYR beat reporters have) – Chris Kreider.
I know, I know, I know – I’ve probably written 95667567567673456375637463 words already about who the next captain of the Rangers should be. Don’t worry – I won’t play my “Greatest Hits” again! I’ll just play a remix of one track! (And this won’t be the last musical reference of this blog either!)
Ever since the February of 2018 departure of former Rangers’ captain, Ryan McDonagh, to Tampa Bay – the Blueshirts have been without an official leader.
And as you also probably know – it’s now been over fifty years since an NHL team without a captain has won the Stanley Cup. (1972 Bruins, who did so with both Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito leading the way.)
In other words, for the Rangers, it was about damn time they named a team captain.
At this point, I wouldn’t have even cared if this guy got it, just as long as someone got it:
Prior to today’s announcement, it was thought that either Trouba, Kreider or Zibanejad would become the next man to wear the “C” on their chest.
Outside of this trio; other fans and media members made cases for Ryan Lindgren, Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere.
As far as Lindgren and Fox go, I just think they were somewhat disqualified from the running, just because of the veteran options that the team had/has. That said, I could see Fox succeeding Trouba one day.
Artemi Panarin, who may be the best offensive player on the team, never had a chance in my eyes. I don’t think he wanted it anyway. I also believe that you need a player that fluently speaks English as your captain, just so he can talk/argue with NHL officials, zebras who all speak English.
Alexis Lafreniere was never a serious candidate in my opinion. I don’t know why some people thought that would actually happen. Maybe sometime down the line he’ll wear the “C,” but not anytime soon.
When it comes to Zibanejad, it feels like Kreider is the alpha-male between the two BFF’s.
After all, it was Kreider who threw Mika’s i-Pad, and it was Kreider who was always there to pick up his center following losses.
In other words, when you whittle it all down, it felt like Kreider and Trouba were the two best names for this promotion/title of team captain – or so I say.
While Trouba had been rumored as a front-runner for the position, even going as far back to the end of the David Quinn era; it was Kreider that seemed like the favorite, where it also felt like the newly minted “CK52” strengthened his odds following his 2021-22 campaign.
The decision to go with Trouba as captain wasn’t a shock; but I also felt an explanation on Kreider’s omission should have been provided too.
Yes, the Rangers don’t owe us an explanation, but at the same time – they open themselves up for this line of questioning.
You can do a lot of contrasting and comparing between the two players to make your case (and I don’t want to go deep into this, because one, I’ve done it before, and two, you’re forced to dive into the waters of negativity); but in my eyes, I just thought that Kreider was the better candidate. And it wasn’t all about tenure either.
It was Kreider that was available to the media following every game, win-or-lose. While Trouba did his fair share of media interviews too, he also ducked them following a bad game – but the less said about Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final the better.
In addition, it was Trouba who said that he likes the current media set-up of today (due to the pandemic), which meant that he enjoys not being forced to interact with the media as much. (I don’t blame him.)
The same can’t be said about Kreider. (And yes, I know Trouba was half-joking when he said this, but he was being truthful too. And yes again, I know this is somewhat a non-story, but it’s also worth noting.)
And let’s face it – while Kreider, prior to this season, had definitely earned that “streaky” label; Trouba wasn’t that hot either. It took Trouba nearly three years and over $16,000,000 in salary to finally find himself in New York.
However, and yep – we’re not there. These guys are, and it was Trouba’s name that was echoed throughout Drury’s exit interviews with his players.
Nine hours after Weekes first broke the news, the Rangers confirmed it.
Here’s the Rangers’ press release on Trouba’s promotion, courtesy of https://www.nhl.com/rangers/news/rangers-name-jacob-trouba-28th-captain-in-franchise-history/c-335217658?icmp=int_web_nyr_news_rightrail:
New York Rangers President and General Manager Chris Drury announced today that defenseman Jacob Trouba has been named the 28th captain in franchise history.
“Since he joined the Rangers, Jacob has consistently displayed all of the qualities we want in a leader on and off the ice,” Drury said. As we look to take the next step as an organization, he is a role model for all of our players to follow and the perfect choice to be our captain.”
“Right away when I got here, it was clear that Jacob had a certain presence in the locker room and among his teammates that exemplify what you need out of a captain,” said Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant. “With where our team is at and where we want to be, he is the right person to lead us there.”
Trouba, 28, will be the Rangers’ first captain since Ryan McDonagh (2014-15 – 2017-18) and becomes the 12th defenseman in team history to be named captain. The Rochester, Michigan native is the fourth straight American-born skater the Rangers have selected as captain. The Rangers are the first franchise in NHL history to have four consecutive full-time American-born captains (Trouba, McDonagh, Callahan, Drury). In addition, Trouba is one of three defensemen in the NHL to currently hold the captaincy for their respective teams, joining Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon and Nashville’s Roman Josi.
A respected voice in the locker room, what Trouba does off the ice is equally remarkable to his performances on the ice. His enthusiastic support of the Garden of Dreams Foundation (GDF) and Junior Rangers Youth Hockey has generated a lasting impact with many tri-state area children. His passion for making a difference in youth communities is consistently displayed with his participation in hockey clinics, Make-a-Wishes, and visits to local hospitals.
Trouba, who was named one of the Rangers’ alternate captains prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, has skated in 597 career NHL games over nine seasons (2013-14 – 2021-22) with the Rangers and the Winnipeg Jets, registering 62 goals and 195 assists for 257 points, along with a plus-53 rating. He has averaged at least 21:00 of ice time per game in each of his nine NHL seasons, and he has posted a plus/minus rating of even or better, 90 or more hits and at least 100 blocked shots in eight of his nine seasons in the league.
Last season, the 6-3, 208-pounder scored a career-high 11 goals and notched 28 assists for 39 points in 81 games, as well as posting a career-high plus-25 rating. His 11 goals were tied with Adam Fox for the most among Rangers defenseman in 2021-22. Trouba tallied 177 blocked shots last year, the second most in the NHL, to go along with his 207 hits. He was the only player in the NHL in 2021-22 to record both 175-plus blocked shots and 200-plus hits and was the first Ranger since Dan Girardi in 2014-15 to notch both in the same season.
Trouba was acquired by the Rangers from Winnipeg on June 17, 2019. The Jets originally selected Trouba in the first round, ninth overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Note – The Rangers will have a press conference today with Jacob Trouba, Chris Drury, and Gerard Gallant at 3:00 p.m. The press conference will air live on MSG Network. In addition, Rangers fans can also watch the press conference on the Rangers’ Twitter account, YouTube channel, website, and app. Details about the press conference to follow.
Once issuing their own press release, Trouba followed in suit.
Here’s his statement, courtesy of https://www.nhl.com/rangers/news/dear-rangers-fans/c-335219256?icmp=int_web_nyr_news_rightrail:
Dear Rangers Fans,
It is a privilege and an honor to be named the next captain of the New York Rangers.
After I was told, one of the first things I did was look up the 27 captains before me. Messier, Leetch, Jagr, and Drury were players I grew up watching as a kid, and I dreamed of being in their skates one day.
Once I became a Ranger, I started learning more about the history of the organization. Being around MSG and the Training Center, you see a lot of pictures and jerseys. I started to realize I’d see the same names more frequently – Howell, Bathgate, Hadfield, Esposito, Lundqvist. All of these players have had a lasting impact on the NHL and are New York Ranger legends.
At the Training Center, two of the jerseys that line the walls stand out to me – Esposito’s jersey from the mid-70s and Messier’s jersey from ’94. Both jerseys have the “C” on the front. Seeing those jerseys reinforce that not every player gets the opportunity to have that honor, let alone for an Original Six team. To share that honor with the players who have worn the “C” before for this organization is something I don’t take lightly.
I’ve said before that it takes me a certain amount of time to adjust to new surroundings. After coming to a new team and a new city, and getting to know new teammates and staff, it took most of my first season until I felt at home.
One person who helped me though the transition is my wife, Kelly. Coming to New York three years ago was not just a great opportunity for me, but it was also a place my wife could chase her dreams and her career as a physician. There isn’t a moment of this journey that we take for granted.
My wife and I owe all of New York a thank you. You made us feel welcomed and showed us that New York City really is the greatest city in the world. Our friends are here, our careers are here, and we hope to start a family here. New York is home.
Getting a taste of playoff hockey at MSG last year was special. You guys brought the energy, and we could feel that around the city. As players, you hang on to the memories and learn from the experience. While we all enjoyed that run, I am looking forward to the 2022-23 season. Like I said at the end of the season, I feel we are right there and I’m excited to see what lies ahead for our group.
I know I am ready for this. There will be challenges, we will face adversity, but I will give you all I have. Our goal is to bring a Stanley Cup to this city. And while I can’t promise it, I can promise I will give you my entire heart trying.
Thank you, Rangers fans, for your constant and continued support. I can’t wait to see you all at the Garden this year!
Yes, I have to get this out of my system before moving on, and yes, I know only a few other people besides me will care – it’s a shame that Trouba didn’t mention the first captain of the Rangers, Bill Cook. Of course, that’s on the Rangers, and not on Trouba.
Okay, I felt good about getting that off of my chest!
As far as anything else, I thought that Trouba said all the right things, just as he’d later do during his official press conference.
At 3PM, Trouba, Gallant and Drury met with the media.
For the first time in seemingly forever; the Rangers actually aired this press conference live on the M$GN. They also aired it on their YouTube and social media accounts.
Like Emile Francis once demanding Ranger ownership to play every home playoff game at M$G; I wonder if Trouba forced the Rangers’ hand in how they share information? (Yes, I’m joking, but go with it!)
Put it this way – this is how much the Rangers wanted this day to happen. They’ve ignored so many other things in the past, but this is what they deemed as true breaking news, and something that was too important to not share with their fans.
I originally planned on watching the M$GN broadcast version of Trouba’s press conference, but once I saw that Sieve Vagistat was there, I turned it off and opted for the YouTube version instead. I’m enjoying my Vally-free summer, and don’t need to see his mug again until the fall.
Here’s the entire press conference, courtesy of the Rangers’ YouTube channel:
Here are some of the highlights from the press conference, with some opinions and thoughts attached, a press conference that I thought went swimmingly well:
— Drury, Gallant and Trouba all came to the podium/table with smiles on their faces. You could see this meant a lot for the new captain.
Of note, Drury became the second former captain, while in a general manager role, to introduce a new Rangers’ captain. Phil Esposito was the first.
— Drury opened up by saying that Trouba was a “terrific leader” and a “captain for years to come.” The “years to come” comment was interesting, because currently, you have 897678669689678 fans all defiantly stating that Trouba will be traded in a year or two.
My take on that? Who cares?
Even if that winds up being the case, the 2022-23 season, much like last season, is a “WIN-NOW” season. If Trouba and company win the Stanley Cup in 2023, that’s all that will matter to me. However long Trouba’s tenure as captain will be after that will be of no significance. Just win!
Furthermore, the NHL salary cap figure will go up once the league gets through all of this pandemic bullshit.
While Trouba’s contract will never be a “steal” nor a “deal;” the blow (his annual cap hit of $8,000,000) will be softened during the latter years of its existence.
In other words, for the people who are currently telling you, and in a matter-of-fact way, that Trouba will be gone in one or two years – they are just blowing smoke. That’s their opinion – and not a fact.
And while who knows what will happen – Drury sure seemed confident that #8 will be his captain for a considerable amount of time.
— When Drury and Gallant presented Trouba with his new jersey with the “C” affixed to it, the new captain just looked giddy and was completely living in the moment – a joy to watch. This was “real.”
— Trouba’s first words were, “thank you Drury, thank you Gallant and thank you Dolan.” Trouba then said he was honored. He also said that he loved NYC.
— Drury, and as Gallant would later do, quickly chimed in and said, “this was the right time.”
— Trouba credited Andrew Ladd as an inspiration, and talked about how his former teammate led by example.
— Trouba said while he understands his new role, nothing will change. He said that while he wants to grow as a player and as a person, his attitude won’t change. He also said that he liked the leadership commission from last season and how each player brought something different to the table.
Again, I thought Trouba said all the right stuff here.
— Gallant then spoke up (about the six alternate captains), and brought up how in Vegas, he didn’t have a captain. Gallant then said that he didn’t really know the Rangers’ group until he got here, which is why he didn’t want to name a captain right away.
In an interesting comment, Gallant said that when first accepted Drury’s offer, he had no clue what the contract situations were of his players, and if any of them would be traded in-season – another reason why he didn’t want to name a captain.
Gallant concluded on this thought by saying that Trouba was both a leader and a character guy, but that as a head coach, he needed a full season to really learn his roster before naming a captain.
Gallant also added that nothing changes. While the Rangers now have their captain; the philosophy stays the same – all 23 players must “buy-in.”
The head coach also reiterated the words of his general manager – “now was the right time.”
“The Turk” was also pretty comical throughout this, as he later added that Trouba’s seating arrangement on Ranger flights won’t change. Gallant cracked up everyone a few times during his 2-3 minutes of talking time, including a joke where he said, “your captain doesn’t have to be your best player, but Trouba is pretty good anyway!”
There’s definitely a dry wit about Gallant. I’m sure he’d be fun to have a few belts and pops with!
— Trouba continued to praise his teammates, and then said that he always wanted to feel like an approachable leader. Trouba also mentioned that Mark Messier reached out to him, which I thought was pretty cool.
Not only was Trouba excited about the best captain in all of team sports calling him; but this also told us that Messier is still invested in the Rangers and what they do. (We also saw this during the playoffs, whenever Messier was on the ESPN panel.)
— At no point, was Drury, Trouba or Gallant asked straight-up, “why not Chris Kreider?”
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, considering that we have the worst collection of beat reporters during this era, the “only one newspaper era,” but even so – how do you not ask Drury and/or Gallant about this?
Another question not asked? “What’s the status of the alternate captains?”
Seriously, these media members, sans Larry Brooks, are just horrible; that is, unless you love knowing about the meals that they consume.
As an educated guess, I’d assume that with Trouba now as captain, and with Strome gone too; Panarin, Kreider, Mika and Goodrow will continue as alternate captains and will rotate wearing the “A” during home and road games. Again, a guess, not a fact.
Trouba indirectly talked about Kreider and Zibanejad, where he said that he wants nothing to change about them. He hopes to continue his great relationship with both players and for them to act in the way that they’ve always acted.
To be clear – I’m not suggesting any wedge or anything like that is going down right now.
I’m just saying, it’s natural to wonder why Kreider didn’t get the job. I can’t see him turning it down if it was offered to him; but since the media rarely asks the right questions, we don’t have the right answers.
But hey, did you know that Panarin likes singing karaoke in Russia? Was he injured during the playoffs? Who cares? He sings in his home country! Hard-hitting material!
— Drury cut-in again, where outside of saying “this was the right time” again; he also said what I felt – “you guys [the clueless media, sans Larry Brooks] and the fans don’t see what happens behind the scenes.”
A perfect follow-up question(s)? What happens behind the scenes? Is this related to Kreider?
You have a better chance of seeing Dancin’ Larry in an Islander jersey than getting a strong follow-up question from this group.
— Trouba then reiterated how happy he was and how excited he was to get the 2022-23 season in motion. This then concluded this fifteen minute or so press conference.
Maybe I have written too much about this story, but let’s face it – not only is there not much news taking place during this month, the slowest month of the NHL calendar; but we’ve been waiting for this day for over four years.
I said my piece about Kreider. I thought it should have been him. It wasn’t. This blog will be the last time I’ll bring it up, unless something happens where we are forced to talk about it.
I wish Trouba all the best of luck. Maybe if Kreider and Mika weren’t around, I’d be a stronger advocate for this promotion.
If there’s anything that I hope (besides the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup), I just hope that we continue to see the Trouba that we saw from December 2021-June 2022 – and not the version of Trouba that we saw during his first two-and-a-quarter seasons in New York.
I do believe that the Rangers always wanted Trouba to ascend to this position, and not just this regime – but the previous regime too.
While you already know about my affinity for Kreider; it was telling that he never got the “C” during the past three seasons, especially when he re-signed with the team in February of 2020. I think Rangers’ management were always holding out for Trouba to grab this proverbial brass ring.
Again, as I felt once hearing this news, and as Drury said today – “we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes.”
In closing, while CZAR IGOR is the best player on the team, and while there are many other talented players on the club too; in a way, all eyes will now be on Trouba. I think he can handle it.
This promotion only increases Trouba’s profile, where outside of New York, he’s become one of the league’s biggest villains, and not because of any controversies (both on and off of the ice), but because of his bruising TROO TROO TRAIN hits – hits that have all been clean – no matter what any Ranger detractor may lead you to believe.
One fan base that was shedding tears today? Fans of Sidney Crosby’s Penguins. To that, I give you this:
Before closing out, an update on “One Game at a Time,” where now, as a result of this historic and epic season – a captain has come out of it.
The book is at the printers!
While yours truly and my crack staff will be reviewing the final version prior to releasing it; I don’t foresee any errors.
Fingers-crossed, I’ll have this book out within two weeks. I’m also not going to stagger a release date. Once done and ready to go, I’m releasing it.
In a way, since this is a compilation book (check out my last blog for more), and despite all four-volumes running to a total of 2,000 pages, this is kind of like a band releasing an “LP.” My next book is a true “studio album,” and one that I hope goes “platinum!”
I’m very proud of how this book turned out, but admittedly, I’m more excited to get “Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History” into your hands – a book that I’m back to working on after hitting the “publish” button on this blog! (I’m still in the proof-read/flesh-out/formatting phase, but essentially, the rough draft has been done for a while.)
While all four volumes of “One Game at a Time” will be available on Amazon; I’ll have preorder information on this site sometime this week, for anyone who wants signed copies.
One last time – congrats to Jacob Trouba.
My first plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden”.
As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:
For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
Updates on Two New NYR Books Set to Hit the Market; Sample Chapter of “Tricks of the Trade,” The Jimmy Vesey Return Rumors (And The Overreactions); Vesey’s History and Susan Sarandon, Adam Fox v. Cale Makar & More
Kaapo Kakko The Last Domino to Fall; Rangers Set for the 2022-23 Season, Artemi Panarin & Alex Ovechkin Team-Up; Raise Money For a Sick Girl, Panarin Calls Out the “Scoundrel” NYR Beat Reporters; Talks About Strome, Kadri/Isles Rumor, Book Updates (We Have a Snag) & More
Two New Ranger-Themed Books Set to Hit the Market; Updates on “Tricks of the Trade” & “One Game at a Time,” The Mike Gartner Trade of 1994, Kakko & Motte Updates, DQ, Tex Rickard Screenplay, DeAngelo Interview, Flaming Out in Calgary, Thank You Maven & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Enjoy the rest of your summer. Barring anything truly breaking, I’ll be back next Monday.
(I said this same exact sentence at the end of my last blog. Something broke less than 48 hours later – go figure!)
Thanks for reading.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine