While his players were taking their physicals and medical exams on Thursday, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault officially kicked off training camp by holding his first press conference of the new season. One of the first questions he was asked was when he planned on naming a new captain.
"I would say at the end of training camp," Vigneault answered, emphasizing he does want the new captain in place before the first regular season contest of 2014-15, but is in no rush to name one immediately.
"I think that all teams have a core leadership group, and it's not just up to one individual--the captain--to be the leader, it has to be a group effort," explained Vigneault. "I see in our team some real strong possibilities as far as being captain; but I also see that this is a new year and we changed some pieces to the puzzle, so I want to see how it unfolds during training camp."
The Rangers have not had a player wearing the C on their sweater since last March the 5th when Ryan Callahan was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Martin St. Louis. Buoyed by a strong leadership group, the Rangers did not miss a beat despite playing without a captain and still reached the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
As for what qualities the head coach would like to see in his next captain--the 27th in franchise history--Vigneault was quick to answer.
"The first one that comes to mind is the power to influence," said Vigneault, who is entering his second season as Rangers head coach. "The captain of the team has to have the power to influence players in the right direction by example, by the way he conducts himself. He also obviously has to be able to regroup the troops. He is an extension, along with his assistants of the coaching staff. The core values and the standards we are trying to establish, when we are not in the room, they're the ones that are pushing it, making sure everybody on our team does it the right way."
The Rangers will take to the ice for the first time on Friday when three groups of players take part in conditioning testing. On Saturday all three groups will practice separately with the coaching staff; and then on Sunday the first scrimmage of camp will take place.
The pre-season opener is Monday against the Devils at Madison Square Garden.