The six-alternate approach that the Rangers embraced on their way to the conference finals has come to an end. So have four-plus seasons without a captain in a league where no team has won the Stanley Cup without one since the 1972 Bruins.
For when the Blueshirts take the ice this season, Jacob Trouba will be wearing the “C,” The Post has confirmed, with the official announcement expected on Tuesday. Trouba had served as an alternate the previous two years while being lauded for his leadership abilities by both his first Rangers coach, David Quinn, and his successor and incumbent, Gerard Gallant. Kevin Weekes first had the news on Twitter.
The 28-year-old native of Rochester, MI becomes the 28th captain in franchise history and first since Ryan McDonagh was traded at the 2018 deadline. Trouba also becomes the fourth consecutive U.S.-born player to wear the “C,” after Chris Drury (2008-11), Ryan Callahan (2011-14) and McDonagh (2014-18).
Among the sextet of 2021-22 alternates that included Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome and Barclay Goodrow, Trouba was considered the de facto captain within the organization, the defenseman generally taking on the role of coordinating the club’s off-ice activities.
The Post has learned, for instance, that Trouba arranged for the Norris Trophy to be shipped to New York from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto before the start of last season so it would be present at a team party celebrating Adam Fox having won the award in 2020-21.
Trouba emerged as a physical force during his third year on Broadway, playing exactly the type of hard-edged, two-way game the Rangers had expected from No. 8 when they acquired him from Winnipeg in exchange for Neal Pionk and the 20th overall selection in the 2019 draft on June 17, 2019 and soon thereafter signed him to a seven-year, $56 Million contract.
Paired with K’Andre Miller for the second straight year in what has developed into a mentor-pupil relationship, Trouba recorded an NHL nine-season career high 11 goals while adding 28 assists for 39 points, second among Rangers defensemen to Fox’s 74 (11-63). Trouba led the team in even-strength ice time at 19:09 per game while second overall with 22:26 per to Fox’s 23:54.
He had a five-on-five goals-for pct. of 56.41 that was second to Miller’s 56.48. The Trouba-Miller pair that was intact for 81 games, all but the Apr. 27 match against Montreal for which No. 8 was given a rest, led the club’s tandems in minutes played and in GF% at 57.43 to the Fox-Lindgren duo’s 55.06.
The defenseman unleashed a series of notable and controversial shattering open-ice hits throughout the season and playoffs that most often served as momentum changers. The most famous, of course, is the opening round Game 5 blow on Sidney Crosby midway through the second period that knocked No. 87 out of the remainder of that match and Game 6 of the series.
The Blueshirts, down 3-1 in the series and 2-0 in the contest at the initial point of contact (that was not the head) rallied both to win the match and the series on Artemi Panarin’s overtime goal in Game 7.
Trouba was a heat-seeking missile in taking out Max Domi in Game 4 of the second round against Carolina after the ‘Canes agitating fourth-line forward had attempted to start trouble with a crosscheck to Ryan Lindgren’s lower back following the final buzzer of Game 7.
And No. 8 later destroyed Seth Jarvis in Game 7 of that series in Carolina, knocking the forward out of the game with a huge, high hit reminiscent of one the Devils’ Scott Stevens had laid on Ron Francis in the same arena in the 2001 playoffs.
These postseason hits followed regular-season crushers that included blows on consecutive nights in December against Chicago’s Jujhar Khaira and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon.
Much of the outside hockey world railed against these hits, labeling them as suspendable head shots, but none of the checks warranted or resulted in discipline from the Dept of Player Safety.
Only three teams in NHL history have won the Cup without a captain. The 1989 Flames did it with Lanny McDonald and Doug Risebrough operating as co-captains. The 1970 and 1972 Bruins did with Johnny Bucyk, Ed Westfall, Phil Esposito and Ted Green (1972 only, injured in 1970) as alternates.
The Rangers were expected to name a captain last season, the first of Drury’s tenure as general manager, but the club instead went with the unique six alternate approach that became part of the team identity.
And a captain.
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