NEW YORK -- Shortly after being named winner of the New York Rangers' Steven McDonald Extra Effort award, captain Ryan Callahan showed why he has earned the distinction in four of the past five seasons.
Following a riveting speech from the trophy's namesake, the New York police officer who was paralyzed in the line of duty in 1988, the Rangers got a lift early in their game Thursday. And it was Callahan who led the way, contributing two first-period assists as the Rangers topped the Florida Panthers 6-1 at Madison Square Garden.
Before the game, a moment of silence was held for victims of Monday's tragic bombing in Boston. Moments later, McDonald came out onto the ice with his wife and son, who also is an NYPD officer. Confined to a wheelchair, McDonald gave a stirring speech in which he implored the Rangers to contribute "one more shift, one more goal." He also suggested the Rangers dedicate the remainder of their season to Martin Richard, the 8-year-old Bruins fan who was killed in Monday's attack.
"We have so much respect for him and what he's done and what he's gone through. Now you see his son in uniform," Rangers coach John Tortorella said of McDonald. "I've had conversations with him on the phone. He inspires me. I'm always anxious to hear what he's going to say before that game when he comes out there."
The Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award was first awarded to Rangers forward Jan Erixon in 1988 and is annually given to the Rangers player who "goes above and beyond the call of duty."
Current Montreal Canadiens forward Brandon Prust won the award in 2010, but the distinction has been owned by the Rangers captain in recent years -- although Tortorella sees center Derek Stepan as a worthy recipient moving forward.
"Cally wins another one. I think Step is pretty close there," Tortorella said. "I love Cally, but I think Step is pretty close there."
Tortorella might not want to wrest the award from his captain too soon. With Thursday's win, the Rangers improved to 4-0-0 immediately following Callahan being named winner of the award. After failing to register a point the previous two times he was presented with the trophy in a pregame ceremony, Callahan led New York's charge against Florida.
"Obviously, it's going to be tough to take that away from him as long as he's playing on this club. Everybody thinks he deserves it," said forward Mats Zuccarello, who was impressed by the team's record when Callahan wins the award. "They should give it out every night to him."
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