Now that Brian Gionta is likely out for the remainder of the season after having undergone surgery to repair a bicep tear, who will lead the Habs? Gionta who had been back in action for merely two games after missing approximately a month of the schedule due to a groin injury was injured against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. He has played in only 31 of his team’s 43 games to date this season.
So, what do the Habs do? Is it important to the team to have an active captain? This may not be the case given that the Canadiens went captain-less in 2009-2010 waiting instead to see who would emerge as the leader after the great overhaul following the 2008-2009 season. Many names were bantered about, namely Hal Gill, Mike Cammalleri, Scott Gomez, and Andrei Markov but it was Brian Gionta who succeeded Saku Koivu as the 32nd captain of this franchise. Notably, he is only the 2nd American upon which the honour has been bestowed (Chris Chelios co-captained with Guy Carbonneau in 1989-1990). The Alternate Captains are Andrei Markov (who has yet to play a game this season) and Hal Gill.
If the team does need a captain, is Gionta the right man for the job? If so, can he do it effectively from the sidelines? Can he, injured or healthy, point this team in the right direction? I remember being frustrated that Saku Koivu could not get his teammates to play a full 60 minutes and now the same can be said of the current leader.
With Markov and Gionta down and out for the count, with Cammalleri gone, and with Gomez injured are the Canadiens a rudderless ship? The room used to be considered as one very rich in leadership but now has the symptoms and the losing record of a room divided. Is the moment opportune to make a formal change at the leadership level? Josh Gorges has been touted as an eventual successor and now that he has been granted a six-year contract extension has his time come now…sooner than later? How about Hal Gill? He is a seasoned and respected veteran and while he is not necesarily extremely vocal, people do stop and listen when he has something to say.
Given that this team does have talent but cannot find a way to win, is it possible that a changing of the guard at the captaincy level is in order?