I’m not, what you might call, business savvy. I don’t have a checking account, I don’t fully understand how mortgages tanked our economy, I don’t even really understand how Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy bankrupted those two old guys in Trading Places. I don’t know finance. I don’t know business.
Here’s what I do know, though: trading Ryan Callahan would be a disastrous decision for the New York Rangers.
Never mind that he’s on the last year of his contract. Never mind his desire for a deal that would take him into his mid-thirties. Never mind that, per year, he’s asking for roughly $2 million more than most would prefer to pay him. Never mind that prudent strategy demands that if a deal will not be reached at year’s end – if he is likely to leave New York in free agency – you trade him now and get something in return.
Never mind that it’s good business. To hell with the business, you don’t trade Ryan Callahan.
Two years ago, a Rangers team of which little was expected topped its conference in the regular season and fell just two games shy of its first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since the curse-breaking win of 1994. Two things were responsible: goaltending and grit. Certainly not one of that year’s most talented teams, the 2011-2012 Rangers out-toughed and out-hearted its opponents – if you’ll allow me the poetic license to invent phrases.
In the time since, though the goaltending has remained, that grinding mentality has waned. The coach who instilled it was fired, Brandon Dubinsky was traded, and Brandon Prust left for a larger, greener pasture – with emphasis on the green. And while, in a vacuum, it’s difficult to criticize any of those moves, their combined effect has led to a Ranger world wherein only Callahan is left playing the type of game the Rangers still desperately need.
What happens if he isn’t there to play it? What happens without his example? Without his fight? Without his un-dying compete level?
In short, what happens without the captain, without the only real Rangers captain since the captain?
Before the Olympic break, the Rangers were one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Do they return from hiatus in the same form without Ryan Callahan? Can they rediscover the trail they walked in 11-12 without the man who blazed it?
Ryan Callahan has been and is the heart of the New York Rangers. And right now, the New York Rangers are a contender. They have a shot.
Without him – without the heart – they don’t.
And even if they did, I’m not certain I’d be interested in seeing it. Ryan Callahan is the type of player that makes fandom fun. He’s the type of player you’re proud to have on your team.
So while I understand the long-term thinking, and while I understand the business, I say again, to hell with the business.
Author: Joe Bianchino
Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @Joe_1045. Email him at Joe@noticketsports.com.