The Rangers are set to enter their third consecutive season without a captain.
Head coach David Quinn announced Wednesday that the team has named four alternate captains: Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba. Kreider and Zibanejad both wore the “A” last season, but the departures of Jesper Fast (Hurricanes) and Marc Staal (Red Wings) left the Rangers with two vacancies to fill.
Panarin and Trouba are both entering their second seasons on the Rangers and are key members of the team’s core.
There had been speculation Kreider or Zibanejad would don the “C” this season after Quinn said the organization planned to “evaluate that situation” at the start of training camp. But Kreider said the Rangers, who haven’t had a captain since Ryan McDonagh was dealt at the 2018 trade deadline, don’t consider not having a captain to be a big deal.
“Might not be something that people want to hear, but I think a lot of times [the captaincy] is more for the fan base than anyone else,” Kreider said on a Zoom call Wednesday. “At the end of the day, you need a big group of leaders to have any kind of success. I mean, there’s a number of guys in our room who are ready to take on leadership roles. And as I’ve said it before, I think even some of the younger guys, guys who are in their second, third year, there’s going to be a time where they need to lead, either stand up and say the right thing in the locker room or lead by example on the ice.
“There can’t be any passengers if we’re going to have success. You look back on the teams who have had success in the last few years, everyone knows their role, everyone buys in and does their job to the best of their ability. Those teams have incredible depth. As long as everyone is pulling in the same direction, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Zibanejad has continued to practice with the Rangers after testing positive for COVID-19 at the start of training camp, but his status for Thursday’s season opener against the Islanders was still up in the air Wednesday.
“We’ll have a clearer picture of what that’s going to be,” Quinn said. “As far as minutes goes, that’ll just be monitored during the game. Obviously we know he had COVID and everybody reacts differently to it, so it’s certainly going to be a shift by shift decision.”
Quinn announced rookie Igor Shesterkin would get the first start in nets of the 2020-21 season. The Islanders are expected to start Semyon Varlamov.
The Rangers officially named Morgan Barron, Anthony Bitetto, Colin Blackwell, Libor Hajek, Keith Kinkaid and Matthew Robertson to their taxi squad.
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