Long time fan of the blog Andy sent me an email this morning with a link to an article put together by Jay Adams of Cave Magazine. The article looks at Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, and how he could be the most under appreciated and under publicized captain in New York sports today:
Knicks captain Carmelo Anthony had a reality show on VH1. Giants captain Eli Manning has been on the cover of every major newspaper twice in the last five years. Jets captain Mark Sanchez was a GQ cover story. And Yankees captain Derek Jeter? Well, we know more about his ex-girlfriends than we do about the entire Yankees outfield.
To be fair, this is true for a reason. Adams points out that Cally is under publicized, but hockey as a sport is under publicized. Is it all that surprising to see that the blue collar captain, the heart and soul of the Rangers, isn’t well known in New York?
Considering his stats this year, which are better than most really give him credit for, it is a bit surprising that mainstream media hasn’t picked up on him the way they have with the aforementioned captains:
Callahan had 29 this season. That’s more than Claude Giroux, Thomas Vanek, Anze Kopitar, Martin St. Louis, Eric Staal, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler and Dany Heatley. For the record, Callahan played fewer games than any of them.
I had to read that twice to really have that sink in. It shocked me. All those players hold such star power in the NHL, but it is Callahan who has more goals than all of them. Perhaps it is the fact that he does it in a blue collar way, and doesn’t flash the skill that any of the above players show. Cally does it by getting to the net and banging home garbage goals.
Callahan is under publicized because he is not the flashy guy on the team. He has a quiet nature about him. He leads by example, but he has the entire locker room following his lead. In fact, Callahan reminds me of another Ranger great. One that was never highly publicized. One that played blue collar hockey and the fans loved him for it.
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Blueshirt Bulletin is reporting that three current Rangers (Sean Avery, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan) will be appearing at Last Licks Ice Cream at their store location at 245 E 93rd St on Monday, March 23, from 6:30-8:00pm. Pricing on the items to sign varies, or you can bring your own item to have them sign. Prices are available at the Last Licks webpage.
In addition to the current Rangers night at Last Licks, some Ranger Legends will also be appearing at the same Last Licks location two days later (Wednesday, March 25). Mark Messier, Adam Graves, and Brian Leetch will be there signing autographs as well. Pricing for this even is still unavailable.
Messier may have been the leader, Leetch the home grown superstar, but Adam Graves was the heart and soul of the Rangers. His contributions on the ice are only surpassed by his contributions off the ice; tirelessly working with the children of the city, participating in Toys For Tots every year, just being Adam Graves. Tonight, Ranger fans everywhere will be dropping everything to watch this ceremony.
During my commute to work this morning, I was thinking about what my favorite Graves moment was. I was 10 when he scored in Game 7 in 1994, just old enough to know it was a big goal, but still too young to fully appreciate it. I nearly hit my ceiling when he scored the OT series clincher against the Devils in 1997, propelling the mediocre Rangers to the Conference Finals. I also thought about his return to the Garden after being forced out of NY, and the video tribute, and Graves shedding a tear as he watched. You could tell he never wanted to leave. I thought about his return to NY as a part of the front office, and when Leetch announced that his number would be retired last year. All of them were special moments, but none of them fully embraced what Gravey meant to the fans.
My favorite Adam Graves moment came on February 4th, 2004. Mike Richter Night. It was his first appearance on Garden ice since 2002. I remember as JD was introducing everyone, he would start by reciting his accomplishments for the Rangers. The fans would listen to the first accomplishment, identify the player, and start to cheer. Not for Graves. The camera panned over Graves, and the Garden just erupted. You could hear it from across the street, I heard it from college in Binghamton. The roar was deafening, and just continued for what seemed like forever. When a lull finally occurred, JD joked that he didn’t even need to introduce Graves. On a night honoring Mike Richter, Adam Graves may have received the loudest ovation.
So let me be another person, another Ranger fan, another New Yorker, to say thank you. Thank you Adam Graves, for being you.