In case you’ve been living under a rock the last couple of weeks, the New York Rangers‘ main storyline has been the future of their captain, Ryan Callahan.
Will he be traded? Will he be traded for Martin St. Louis? Will he lower his contract demands and re-sign?
Those questions are just the beginning. While we all know professional sports is a business and it’s always about the money, the one angle of this story no one seems to be talking about is human element.
From Callahan’s perspective, he is doing what any other human being would do — he’s trying to leave as less money on the table as possible. From a team perspective, however, this situation is a distraction on and off the ice, whether they want to admit it or not. But should the captain leave, how exactly will it affect the Rangers mentally?
Last week, the Rangers signed Dan Girardi to a six-year contract extension, thus eliminating another major distraction. Head coach Alain Vigneault singled out Girardi, Henrik Lundqvist, and especially Callahan as the players that set the tone in the locker room and the culture on and off the ice.
Therefore, this begs the question, if the Rangers, a team aspiring to contend for a Stanley Cup this season, lose their captain, how will it affect their play? The players will never publicly admit that losing Callahan would hurt, but we have to remember that these players are human.
It is very unusual for a contending team to trade their captain during the middle of a season. Callahan may not be the Rangers’ most talented player, but he arguably displays the most heart and soul out of any player on the roster. If you don’t think his gritty, rugged play rubs off on the roster, think again.
Of course, it is possible the Rangers could get a great return back for Callahan, thus making the team better. But never underestimate the intangible factor of disposing of a team captain during a critical stretch of the season. This is why the situation is so dangerous.