From the moment he was named captain last summer, many Rangers fans have compared Ryan Callahan to Mark Messier. Well today that comparison took another turn as Cally is one of three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award. He is up against two other captains – Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes and the LA Kings’ Dustin Brown. (How great would it have been to have two of the three battling for the Stanley Cup right now? Yes I’m still bitter.)
recognizes an individual as a superior leader within their sport, and as a contributing member of society. The award is given to a player selected by Mark Messier to honor an individual who leads by positive example through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication to community activities and charitable causes.
So why do I think Callahan should win? Well for one he is perfect in almost everything he does so of course he should win this award. On a serious note, there was not a question in anyone’s mind who would take over when Drury stepped aside. There are no words for the amount Callahan has grown the past few years both in his play and in his leadership.
Off the ice, he has become a leader in the locker room. Totorella said he stayed out of the room during the intermissions of that triple OT game vs. the Caps in round two. But the one voice he heard coming from the room? Callahan’s. And I’m sure the little Energizer Bunny wasn’t saying anything about being tired. I’ve also heard that when Derek Stepan made the team out of camp last year, he needed somewhere to stay till he got his feet on the ground. His place of residence – the spare bedroom in the Callahan household. Honestly, don’t know how long he stayed there but the fact that a then 26-year old who had only been an alternate captain for a short time offered the space, tells you all you need to know about him. He got it.
On the ice, he is always the one to start the forecheck or block a shot, anything to set the tone. Simply put, when Callahan isn’t going, the Rangers aren’t going. Love or hate their style of play, all you need to do is have someone watch Callahan to know what the Rangers are. He is the New York Rangers. If that’s not a leader, what is?
As for a contributing member of society, here’s where my argument gets a little murky. I am sure he has done a lot with the Garden of Dreams but here is the thing with the Rangers – they all do that and none of them talk about it. Other than Lundqvist, who is the spokesperson for the organization, I have no idea how involved the players are with the charity. I do, however, know they are all required to be involved. My guess is Messier knows how involved Callahan is and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does as much as Lundqvist, just behind the scenes since he is more of a private person.
Do I think Cally will win? If I’m being honest, I’m not sure. He is up against some great competition. Do I think this is the last time he will be nominated for this award? Absolutely not. And for that, win or lose, I’m real glad he will be leading the Rangers for years to come. Congratulations on a well-deserved nomination Captain!