Artemi Panarin does not want the “C” on his sweater entering the 2021-22 season.
The New York Rangers forward told “Hockey in the Know” on Instagram that he does not want to be the team’s captain because he believes there are more deserving contenders.
“I think we have more deserving candidates for that role now,” Panarin said Friday, per NHL.com. “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 is entering just his third season with the Rangers after agreeing to a seven-year, $81.5 million deal with the franchise in July 2019. He was an alternate captain alongside Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba last season.
The 29-year-old added that he’s afraid he “won’t be an effective captain.”
“I even don’t speak English,” Panarin said. “How can I motivate? I can only influence with my own game. And they will listen to me without any letters.”
Panarin has tallied 153 points (49 goals, 104 assists) in 111 games for the Rangers and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP in 2019-20. His 1.38 points per game are third in the NHL the past two seasons behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, per NHL.com.
Rangers general manager Chris Drury said it’s a “priority” to name a captain for the 2021-22 season. New York hasn’t had a captain since Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018.
Kreider is the longest-tenured player on the Rangers. The 30-year-old has spent his entire nine-year NHL career in New York after being drafted 19th overall in 2009. He has tallied 346 points (177 goals, 169 assists) in 573 regular-season games. The Massachusetts native has also appeared in 80 playoff games for the Blueshirts, notching 39 points (24 goals, 15 assists).
It’s unclear if the Rangers intend to name him captain. However, he has six years remaining on the seven-year, $45.5 million deal he signed before the 2020-21 season, so he’s definitely a strong candidate.