Artemi Panarin does not want to be named captain of the New York Rangers, the 29-year-old forward told “Hockey in the Know” on Instagram.
“I think we have more deserving candidates for that role now,” Panarin said Friday. “Would I want it? I’d rather say no, actually.
“It’s not just putting a letter on the sweater and walking around taking pictures. It’s a lot of rough work in the locker room. And it’s not just about playing good hockey. You also have to give your energy between the periods, motivate guys, giving interviews, being the face of the franchise. Overall, it’s a lot of work off the ice.”
Panarin enters the third season of a seven-year contract he signed with the Rangers on July 1, 2019 and was an alternate captain with center Mika Zibanejad, forward Chris Kreider and defenseman Jacob Trouba last season. He’s scored 153 points (49 goals, 104 assists) in 111 games for New York and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy voted as most valuable player in the NHL in 2019-20 (won by Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl.) Panarin’s 1.38 points per game are third in the NHL the past two seasons behind Oilers captain Connor McDavid (1.68) and Draisaitl (1.53).
“I think I’m more effective in hockey,” Panarin said. “And I’m afraid that I won’t be an effective captain. I even don’t speak English. How can I motivate? I can only influence with my own game. And they will listen to me without any letters.”
Rangers general manager Chris Drury said it’s a “priority” to name a captain this season and wants coach Gerard Gallant to have some time to assess before a decision is made. New York hasn’t had one since defenseman Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26, 2018.
“It’s tough to say about needing one,” Rangers defenseman Adam Fox told the “NHL @TheRink” podcast Sept. 15. “I think we’ve had some guys who are great leaders, and guys with experience. The way our team has been with young guys, it would have helped with some direction with one guy to have a voice in that sense.”
Kreider is the longest-tenured player on the Rangers. The 30-year-old forward has played 573 regular-season games and 80 Stanley Cup Playoff games over nine seasons, all with New York, which was fifth in the eight-team MassMutual East Division (27-23-6) last season and has not won an NHL postseason game since 2017. Gallant replaced David Quinn, who was fired May 12 after three seasons.
Forward Brian Boyle, Kreider’s former Rangers teammate who signed a professional tryout contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 3, said Kreider is an ideal candidate.
“He does everything right,” Boyle said at the Smashfest Charity Ping-Pong Challenge on Aug. 5.
“I mean, I saw him come in as a little puppy dog out of Boston College (in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs). I remember being that kid myself. The effect he had right away was obvious and he was a shot in the arm for us. He’s been through everything on that team and now he’s the old guard, even though he’s not old. He’s still got wheels, he’s a high-character person, a smart individual and knows what it takes to win.
“I’ve been friends with him for a long time, so I’d love to see that.”