If the New York Rangers manage to beat the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final, it will be the first time since the Boston Bruins in 1971-72 (and 1969-70) that a team without a captain wins the Stanley Cup.
The Rangers dealt their captain, Ryan Callahan, at the trade deadline for Martin St. Louis. Since then, they have not replaced him by handing the “C” to another player. At the time, I was critical of the move and thought the Rangers were drastically changing the makeup of the team and thought it was a mistake. Shows how much I know.
The triumvirate of Marc Staal, Brad Richards and Dan Girardi currently wear the “A” and act as alternate captains for the team. One, or all three of them will be front and centre to accept the Cup should the Rangers fulfill the ultimate goal.
The Bruins were the last team to win the Stanley Cup without a named captain, with John Bucyk accepting the Cup after winning. He was the most veteran of the Alternates, so he got the honor. If the Rangers win, that honor would likely go to Brad Richards, as he is the most veteran of the three Rangers “A”s.
The Calgary Flames won in 1989 with co-captains Jim Peplinski and Lanny McDonald, the last time a team with 2 captains won the Cup. That spring, both Peplinski and McDonald, as well as alternate Tim Hunter, were all front and centre accepting the cup from NHL president John Ziegler, the only time I can remember multiple players accepting the Cup at the same time.
The Rangers are demonstrating that you don’t need to wear a letter to be a leader, and a solid leadership group is required, regardless of who wears the “C” or the “A”, or nothing at all.