Excuse us if we intrude on all of these "gloom and doom", these "maybe if this happens" or the wishful thinking about what is going to happen next season with the Rangers because we want to let you in a tiny little secret.
See by the end of the 2008-09 season if the supposed leaders of the Rangers (IE Gomez, Drury or Naslund) are not leading then the new guard the future of the Rangers will push them aside and take over.
We watched last season as Drury cliched his responses, how Gomez double talked and others watched them to see if they would be the stand up guys. We will say this here and now that the real leaders of the Rangers will not wear any letters to start next season but by the end of the season the fans will be acknowledging them as the true leadership of the Rangers.
Ask anyone who has ever held the leadership roles in the armed forces about where they found their best leaders. 95% will tell you that the best leaders came from within the company they were serving in.
Leadership is not something you get handed as it is something that you have to have inside of you when start otherwise the desire to lead does not simply show up overnight. It starts by you setting the standard whether it is with your work ethic, your willingness to put in the extra work to become better or even the willingness to accept blame when the mission does not work out the way it was supposed to.
See they can give Drury, Gomez or whoever they want a letter for their uniform as it will not make them real leaders. The leaders of the Rangers are going to be the one who are growing into their roles as Rangers and if Drury, Gomez or whoever does not lead like real leaders then they will be pushed aside.
We are talking about Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Brandon Dubinsky, Nigel Dawes and Ryan Callahan as they are the true core of the Rangers and will become the leadership of the team. These are the ones who will step up on and off the ice when the team needs someone too now they have NHL experience under their belts.
We know all of these young men and the fire that drives them inside having covered all except Girardi during their days in the CHL. All of them were leaders on their teams back then and we have been calling him the future captain of the Rangers since 2006, Marc Staal will assume more of a leadership role next season.
Do not be fooled by those quiet voices or the sounds of innocence during those intermission interviews, these are players who we have seen firsthand hold their teammates accountable for their efforts even during games.
Marc Staal is the future of the Rangers and if he remains healthy he will set the tone and character of the Rangers. You will see a player who when the team needs a big play whether it is a goal or a hit, it will be Staal who will change the momentum of a game.
Dan Girardi already is a leader on the Rangers, the fans simply have not realized it just yet. Girardi is the "quiet one" who leads by his efforts on and off the ice. How many of you called Girardi the one consistent defenseman last season?
It will be Girardi's work ethic that sets the standard for the team as we know who looked out for his defensive partner off the ice and who will do the same no matter who his partner is next season. When we watch Girardi we can not help but to think of Jay Wells who next to no credit for doing all the dirty work on the blueline during the 94 season but we remember who was always on the ice when the team needed a stop.
That is Dan Girardi and we expect between Staal and himself they will be the Wells/Lowe pairing of long ago.
Brandon Dubinsky has never been one to shy away from getting in your face if you were dogging it. Memo to Zherdev, do not give 100% in front of the one Ranger who thinks he was born to be a Ranger and he will jump all over you.
Dubinsky speaks his mind and now that he has paid his dues will call out anyone who does not give his all. Dubi will not care if you are making 8,000 or 8,000,000 as Dubinsky will expect you to work just as hard as he does or else.
Nigel Dawes will be the professor on the team, the one who will not say what he thinks in public but will work with you if you need some assistance. We watched as Dawes used to always go out of his way to help the younger members of the Kootenay Ice adapt and adjust to junior hockey.
If anyone who understands how hard it is to remain in the NHL it will be Dawes as he will be the one who welcomes his newest teammates with open arms and a willingness to help them adjust to being a Ranger.
Then there is perhaps the one player who could go along way in replacing Sean Avery as resident pest but will offer a better overall player. The Callahan we knew from the Guelph Storm had no problem dropping his gloves even if the other guy was much bigger than he was.
We called how Callahan was handled one of Tom Renney's biggest blunders last season as Callahan really needed that trip to Hartford last season. Callahan needed to work on both his game and confidence as we never doubted his ability to be an NHL player.
The player Ranger fans saw in the playoffs against the Devils might have been a bigger factor last season if he had been sent to Hartford right after he came back from his knee injury.
Cally is going to be the stand up for his teammates leader despite his size, how many 5'11 players do you know who scores 52 goals with 126 PIMS? We know of one and his name is Callahan.
Forget Fritsche, Voros or Rissmiller as none of them have all the skills that Callahan has and that is going to be a difference maker.
The Rangers do have a great mix of personalities among their younger players and more are on the way. The Rangers have drafted players who have held leadership roles on their previous teams for a reason.
The Rangers can claim that will all the changes that this will be a different team but we will disagree because the key to the Rangers next season and beyond will not be Redden, Zherdev or any of the new guys.
It will be the progress made by the homegrown prospects as they place their mark on the Rangers. So many are making comparisions to free agent signings of the past, of trades of the past but there is one major difference that we have to point out to Brooks, Weinman and everyone else.
Unlike those teams of the previous decade the Rangers have homegrown players who are going to move into key roles over the next season or 2. We will quietly nod our head when people annoint the first line as Naslund/Zherdev/Gomez as we know better.
Which line was the best line for the Rangers during the playoffs? Drury/Dawes/Callahan.
If you want to think that after being a first liner last season that Brandon Dubinsky is going to settle for being a 3rd liner then you did not learn a single thing about the kid. Yes Jagr gets some credit for Dubinsky's development but the majority of the credit belongs to Brandon Dubinsky.
Watch and see who the real leaders of the Rangers will be next season. We think it will be our version of the Fab Five.
(all pictures courtesy of the NHL Media Department)
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