Ryan Callahan: The Best Captain the Rangers Have Had Since Mark Messier

Anthony PucikCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 10: (L) Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers prepares to shoot against (R) Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes at Madison Square Garden on January 10, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Last night, the New York Rangers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 1-0 in a shootout in what was a defensive struggle between both teams. The Rangers won the shootout 2-1, with goals by winger Marion Gaborik and the winner by captain Ryan Callahan.

This is not the first time that Ryan Callahan has come up big for the Rangers this season. Ever since the C was placed on his chest at the beginning of this season, he has risen to be the best captain for the Rangers since the great Mark Messier.

Messier was the heart and soul of the Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup championship team. He scored when they needed him to score, he pumped the team up when they needed to be pumped up (insert the "WE WILL WIN TONIGHT" that covered the back page of New York newspapers during the conference finals against the Devils) and he was a leader on the ice. 

The Rangers have seen an absence of that in the captain spot since Messier left. That is, until Callahan.

From the minute that the Rangers announced Chris Drury was no longer going to be a member of the Rangers at the end of last season, I immediately knew the best replacement would be the young Ryan Callahan. To this point, I haven't been wrong.

Callahan is the most well-rounded player on the Rangers and arguably one of the most well rounded in the entire league. You can put him in any given situation and he would be able to produce. 

He is a great scorer, a good skater, an excellent shot blocker and a superb defensive forward. He can excel in his position on the top line while also being vital on both the power play as well as the penalty kill.

The Rangers are lucky to have such a multi-dimensional player leading their team. Not only that, he also exhibits great captain qualities on the ice. 

When someone on his team is pushed after a play or takes a dirty hit when Callahan is on the ice, he immediately steps in and is ready to drop the gloves if necessary to defend his teammates. That is what also makes Callahan a great captain: He is a great role model for up-and-coming players on the Rangers. 

Especially with all the injuries this season for the Rangers, they have had to rely on their rookies more than ever. When a rookie comes up to the NHL, there are two types of people he looks to take after: the experienced veterans and the captain.

For the Rangers, not only do they have experienced veterans like Brad Richards and Mike Rupp, but they also have Ryan Callahan as a captain for the rookies to look up to. I cannot think of a better person for a rookie to follow than the play of Ryan Callahan.

He never gives up and is always aggressive going after the puck. He stands up for his teammates while at the same time playing a clean game. 

Callahan is a hockey player that rookies should look up to. Maybe this is why Carl Hagelin has evolved into the great rookie that he is, having played alongside Richards and Callahan this year. 

Without a doubt, Callahan is a great captain for the New York Rangers. Not since Messier have we seen a Rangers captain that will put his team on his back night after night.

Ryan Callahan is still young, and he will be a fantastic player in the National Hockey League. He has the potential of being the man who hoists the Stanley Cup for the Rangers. If he keeps this up, he will go down in history as one of the greatest Rangers of all time.