After naming a new captain last season, the New York Rangers finally got some much-needed leadership in the locker room in the form of Jacob Trouba. A hard-hitting defenseman from Michigan, Trouba offered many quality traits to wear the C for the Blueshirts. Despite his abilities, there are still many flaws to his game and leadership that need to be adjusted in the 2023 NHL season.
Trouba needs to get the Rangers going early on
Last season was somewhat of a rocky journey for the Rangers, having multiple ups and downs throughout the 82 games. There were times when the team looked like it had the skill to hoist the Stanley Cup, and there were times when they looked like they had forgotten how to skate.
As captain, Trouba needs to be the man to ensure everyone in the locker room is motivated to bring an aggressive mindset and elite level of consistency to every single game. He began to shine at that in the latter half of last season after his infamous helmet throw during an embarrassing loss against the Chicago Blackhawks.
After this incident, it was clear that Trouba meant business and the rest of the team began to align under his leadership. To have a successful campaign this season, Trouba must bring this passion and dedication early on in the year to have the team get off to a strong start. Had the team acted as a motivated unit much sooner than the helmet throw, the Rangers may have been able to finish higher in the standings and avoid that first-round exit to the New Jersey Devils.
Leading by example in the defensive zone
The Rangers’ defense is probably the most inconsistent aspect of the team. In some games they all look like Norris Trophy-level players; in other games, they look like traffic cones for opposing players to skate around. Trouba is often the main focus of this issue, as he is known for making some head-scratching errors that prompt fans to question his NHL credibility. The captain had 49 giveaways in the 2022–2023 regular season.
Trouba doesn’t need to be perfect every single game, but he certainly needs to be more consistent to lead the Rangers’ defense. When the captain himself is making foolish plays and costing the team goals, it becomes difficult to maintain a level of constant determination every game. Trouba playing poorly becomes a catalyst for the rest of the Rangers’ defense to play poorly as well. He must lead by example and give his all in every game.
Keeping the Rangers out of controversy
There’s no doubt that Trouba is regarded as one of the least popular players by other fanbases. Rangers fans will defend him valiantly, but it’s no secret that Trouba has a reputation for being a dirty player. Some of his actions on the ice- specifically his hits- are questionable among the NHL’s viewers.
It’s rare that the Rangers go more than a month at a time without seeing a highlight of Trouba flattening an opposing player, leading to a bounty of fans calling out for a suspension. Because of this, teams often target Trouba on the ice and it usually leads to a massive brawl that puts other Blueshirts players at risk of injury.
Additionally, Trouba’s dislike around the league and low level of popularity could also damage the Rangers’ reputation. Having such a controversial figure as team captain can make it difficult for newer fans to root for the Rangers.
To have a better 2023 season, Trouba will need to be more careful with his on-ice decisions. This starts with keeping his hits low, not lifting his feet off the ice, and playing clean hockey. As captain, Trouba should focus on keeping the Rangers out of consistent controversy, which would benefit the team overall.