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Rangers Must Decide if Captaincy Would Burden Mika Zibanejad


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This leads us to the Rangers, who are about to embark on their third full season without a captain. Unless, of course, the hierarchy consisting of president John Davidson, general manager Jeff Gorton, assistant GM Chris Drury and, critically, head coach David Quinn, believe that this is the time to sew the ?C? on Mika Zibanejad?s sweater just above his heart.


Chris Kreider, on the verge of entering the first year of his seven-year contract extension, would be a worthy candidate, but it is likely going to be Zibanejad or no one. And no one in his right mind would dispute that No. 93 would be the man for the job.


The only question is whether the staff ? and it is Quinn who knows the player best ? believes that the captaincy would add a burden to the Swede and somehow change his game. Injuries might have been a factor, but the captaincy sure seemed to change Ryan McDonagh?s game, and not for the better.


The last thing the Rangers want or need is to have Zibanejad, whose trajectory to the upper echelon of NHL centers has been both steady and dramatic through his four years on Broadway, try to do too much in order to justify his captaincy.


Zibanejad is a quiet leader in the room and an inspirational one on the ice. He cuts his own style and has remained true to himself throughout his evolution since coming to the Rangers in the July 2016 exchange for Derick Brassard that ranks as one of the great trades in franchise history.


If the Rangers feel that going with lettermen by committee ? that would surely feature Zibanejad, Kreider, Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba as alternates ? is best, then so be it. But Quinn and/or Davidson would surely owe Zibanejad an explanation. The centerman did not reveal his feelings last year, but I had the distinct impression that he was disappointed at not being awarded the ?C.? It strikes me that the more responsibility Zibanejad assumes, the more he blossoms.





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Give it to Kreider. If there's any chance of the captaincy causing a burden, there's more to lose with Zibanejad, unlike Kreider who's basically hit his peak already. There's still a lot to come from Mika and assigning him as captain provides no benefit in my eyes.
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