Rangers are finding success with leader-less leadership


Naming six alternatives rather than one captain and two assistants can be upset by the guys in the back room. This could be perceived as a gimmick that masked weakness.

Instead, the Rangers have accepted the decision as part of the club’s identity. On and off the ice, this is a team and organization focused on the collective. This is a big reason for the Blueshirts to take a 23-9-4 record in Monday’s game against the Kings.

“There’s been all this talk about naming a hero and I think most guys want to have one because we don’t want to hear about it anymore,” Ryan Strom told The Post in a recent conversation. “We wanted to move on, and I think we were amazed, but the way it worked was incredible.

“I think that’s a factor in our success.”

Strom is one of the shambles of Lettermen by Chris Crider, Mika Jibanejad, Jacob Trouba, Artemis Panarin and Barclay Goodrow. There are two Americans, two Canadians, a Swede and a Russian. At 27, Trouba is the youngest.

Chris Crider (20) and Mika Jibanejad (93) are in the leadership sextet.

“Everyone is equal and has a voice within the group and we all respect each other’s opinions and we all bring something a little different to the table,” Strom said. “We had a group chat and when we called it, we had some meetings. There’s a real give-away.

“The other day I brought it to the attention of one of the other guys. I asked them what their thoughts were about it and what should we do about that?

No team has ever won a Stanley Cup without a player wearing the “C” after the 1971-72 Bruins’ Chalice (and MSG, no less), with Johnny Busick, Ed Westfall, Phil Esposito and Ted Green alternating. In fact, the B’s skated through seven seasons, from 1967-68 to 1973-74, and won in 1969-70.

Shortly after taking over as president-general manager last May, Chris Drury said naming a leader would be a priority. For Crider, Jibanejad and Trouba, the focus was naturally narrow. As the camp evolved, Drury and incoming head coach Gerard Gallant shifted to taking a more communal perspective. If Zibanejad, Crider and / or Trouba interpret it as a snub, it is kept secret.

“Any one of those three guys could be a leader – I’m talking about Creeds, Mika and Troubs – and I think it took a lot of maturity from that group to work out the way it has,” Strom said. “It really says a lot about them to accept it and have no problem with it.

New York Rangers' Jacob Trouba and Mika Zibanejad scored.
Jacob Trouba and Mika Zibanejad scored the goal.

“There may have been easy ego issues, but none. And we’re all good at it.

Let’s face it. Crider Day has definitely come and gone. The same possibility exists for Zibanejad and Trouba. The next Rangers hero will probably come from a younger generation, but there is definitely no rush. There is no need to force anything that puts too much pressure on Adam Fox. Why would the hierarchy, if the six-headed monster be so effective?

“Whether we’re meeting in person, talking by phone, texting, big things, small things,” Crider said. “There are six guys who have different experiences, different perspectives, different experience levels and I think that’s a cool thing.

“At the same time, having all the guys on the same page, committed to winning, open to suggestions and ideas and other people’s opinions, I think it’s doing incredibly well. And it’s a really good support system for us, to be able to lean on each other as opposed to just having one or two guys.” Ideas can bounce off each other and get advice from those in a similar situation.

If the baseball team claims to have two closers, it probably doesn’t have one. Same for quarterbacks and pitchers in the NFL. But going without a leader does not mean going without leadership. It seems there is room to fill with them for the NHL’s most pleasant surprise team.

“The whole thing comes back – and I don’t want to beat a dead horse – but it goes to our team’s first commitment,” Strom said. We want to win. We want to win.

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