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Drury brings history of success with him

Thursday, 02.12.2009 / 10:00 AM / Captains, Driven by Bridgestone

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Chris Drury has been a leader for as long as we can remember him -- which for many fans dates back 20 years, to when he was a pudgy 13-year-old who led his baseball team from Trumbull, Conn., to a Little League World Series title.

From that grand stage to the one he currently occupies -- captain of the New York Rangers -- Drury has led by word and deed. His leadership has produced championships at almost every level of hockey.

"He's a great leader and a great teammate," Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky told NHL.com. "He's done it all. He's been around for a long time, accomplished everything a person could want to accomplish in this game."

That list includes numerous individual and team honors.

He won a Connecticut high school state championship playing alongside his brother, Ted, at Fairfield Prep; a collegiate national championship as a freshman at Boston University in 1995; and the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. He's the only player in hockey history to win the Hobey Baker Award as NCAA player of the year and Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

Along the way, Drury has been smart enough to learn from some of the great leaders with which he has played.

"Going back to college, playing with Mike Grier and Jay Pandolfo, and our captain when we won the national championship was Jacques Joubert," Drury told NHL.com. "Then getting to Colorado with (Joe) Sakic and (Raymond) Bourque and (Adam) Foote. I learned a lot from all those guys."

What he learned was his own leadership style, which has served him well in his first season as a solo NHL captain. He was part of a captain rotation in Buffalo in 2003-04 and he served as co-captain of that team with Daniel Briere for three years.
 
Drury is perceived as a quiet leader, but he quashes that notion.

"I'm not going to be screaming left and right all the time, but certainly when something needs to be said or I want to say something, I'm going to say it," he said. "I think the impression out there is that I don't talk at all, but that couldn't be further from the truth."

While he might not peel the paint off the wall, there's nothing lost in translation between the captain and his teammates.

"What makes his leadership special is he doesn't have to say anything," Dubinsky said. "You know just by looking at him, when he looks back at you, what he's thinking."

"That's good to know," Drury said when told Dubinsky's thoughts. "There's times when something needs to be said and there's times when a look says a lot."

Drury may wear the "C," but he doesn't bear the leadership mantle alone in the Ranger room.

Markus Naslund, who was the captain for eight years in Vancouver before joining the Rangers this summer, is an alternate captain. Scott Gomez, who learned from leaders like Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Ken Daneyko in New Jersey, also wears an "A."

"All the veterans, all the guys are always talking about leadership, bouncing ideas off each other," Drury said. "It's certainly not the case where I'm making all the decisions and telling them after. I want to know their input, especially Nazzy, who was a captain in the League for such a long time, Scotty's got a ton of great experience playing under Scott Stevens in Jersey, I'm sure he learned a ton."

While they’ve only been together for a few months, Naslund already has been impressed by Drury's leadership.

"I think he's done a great job," Naslund told NHL.com. "He takes the captaincy very seriously. He's a committed guy. … He has pretty good control on everything, whether it's in the room or outside."

Part of setting that example is playing the right way every day.

"The right way for me is the Ranger way," Drury said. "It's what (President/GM) Glen (Sather) wants, it's what (coach) Tom (Renney) wants. You're an extension of them. Being the captain or having an 'A' or a 'C,' you've got to do the system the right way. You have to be that extension and make sure things are done properly."

The Rangers haven't done everything right this season, but Drury has done his part to keep things pointed in the right direction; his 15 goals and 34 points entering Wednesday's game were third on the team. Like his team as a whole, though, Drury's been in a slump lately.


In his past nine games, he had no goals, 3 assists and a minus-3 rating, and the team has gone 3-5-1 to fall to fifth in the Eastern Conference, six points ahead of ninth-place Carolina.

Drury has used what he learned from the great players he's played with through the years to keep things positive.

"Every day is a new day, every practice is a new beginning," Drury said. "No matter what happens the night before, the week before, the month before, there's always a fresh start every day. Always try to make the most of it."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.


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