Marc Messier would like to see a captain. One, that is. Not six.
Speaking on the “Up in the Blue Seats” podcast on The Post, the Rangers legend said he believes the hockey team needs a leader.
“I don’t know the last time a team won a cup without a captain,” Messier said, noting that he was reluctant to criticize the organization without inside knowledge of what went into the decision.
Rangers, after new coach Gerard Gallant said during training camp that they plan to name a captain, have instead named six pre-season substitutes: Artemi Banarin, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanijad, Jacob Tropa, Ryan Strom and Barkley Godreau. As for the last team to win the Stanley Cup without one, that would be the 1972 Bruins, whose replacements were Phil Esposito, Johnny Buick, Ed Westfall and Ted Green.
“I was fortunate enough when I was a leader to have great leaders around me, both in Edmonton and in New York,” Messier said. “Not just the co-captains, but the players who didn’t have a speech on their shirts and were great captains in their own right, and they did an incredible amount of work behind the scenes and they take credit for that, by keeping the team motivated, enthusiastic, consistent, singing the same message. Up and down throughout the team leadership from coaching staff to doctors to management to coaching staff, one message should be unified.
“But the big link between it all is he is the one captain of the team that everyone can look at in tough times, under adversity or when things are going well.”
Messier was keen to note that Rangers may have someone they think might appear and who is not yet ready, in which case it would be a good idea to push them into the position. He didn’t want to get stabbed in a situation where he doesn’t know what’s going on internally.
After saying in an interview with Michael Kaye in May on ESPN Radio that he was “willing to help” Rangers — a comment widely interpreted as pressure for a job after the firing of President John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton — Messier made clear he didn’t mean to come that way at the time.
He has said, however, that he was asked about taking over the Rangers coaching position after leaving John Tortorella in 2013. His condition, which has not been fulfilled, is that everyone within the internal management wanted him in the position.
“It became clear that they went in a different direction, which is a good thing because I was the one who told you guys maybe you should make sure you all agreed that you wanted me to coach the team,” Messier said. “…I wasn’t happy with the way things went and the way it was communicated to me, they just went in a different direction, but things like that happen. I don’t have any bad feelings for Rangers at all.”
If Messier is in charge, you can bet there is someone with a “C” on his shirt.
“Every team needs a unique captain with great leadership,” Messier said.