When the Rangers initially traded captain Ryan Callahan to Tampa in exchange for Martin St. Louis, there was plenty of trepidation among Rangers fans, including myself.
How would the locker room react to losing a popular captain? Are the Rangers losing too much grit? Will St. Louis become another in a long line of aging super stars to bust out on Broadway?
At first, our concerns were confirmed as St. Louis wasn’t getting the job done on the scoreboard, while you continued to hear excuses about his attempts to get comfortable with his new surroundings. Meanwhile, Captain Callahan seemed to be scoring every night, while Steve Yzerman couldn’t speak more glowingly about the Rochester native.
Well two months later, St. Louis has ingratiated himself with his new teammates in a way no one could have ever imagined and Callahan is at home trying to decide whether playing for the lowly Sabres will be worth the big payday.
Obviously, the embracing of St. Louis was expedited by the death of his mother, but even with that tragic event, the regard in which the Rangers speak about the former Lightning captain, you would think he’s been on the team for years, not months.
It’s very rare that you hear a new player utter the words “I couldn’t be prouder to be a f*cking New York Ranger with you guys” but that’s exactly what St. Louis expressed after the huge Mother’s Day win against the Penguins in Game 6 last week.
Then yesterday, after the entire Rangers team attended the funeral of St. Louis’ mother, Brad Richards added this (via Blueshirts United)…
“I think the big thing is it was the timing of it probably leads to a great story, and we want it to be a great story. We’re not trying to hide that. So I think it made us get closer to him , and he really feels like he’s a Ranger now with what he went through and everybody behind him.”
…how ironic is it that the team we’ve complained all season about not being emotional enough, has now given us two of the most emotional weeks I’ve ever seen in sports. St. Louis was literally being boo’d out of Madison Square Garden during Game 4 against the Penguins, now I bet the entire fan base would lay down in traffic for the guy. When Ryan Callahan becomes an afterthought for Rangers fans you know it’s been a flawless integration into the organization for St. Louis.
…i’ve heard concern among Rangers fans about what buying out Richards this summer could do for the Rangers perception among free agents. Add in the fiascoes with Redden and Drury and you could see why a top free agent might have anxiety about joining an organization who seems to give up on high priced signings at the first sign of struggles. But I think that all changes after what’s gone on with St. Louis. If you’re a guy like Stastny witnessing the compassion and support, not only coming from the players, but the entire organization, why the hell wouldn’t you be banging your agents door down begging him to get the Blueshirts interested in you. Although, getting to the Conference Finals probably helps as well.