Brian Gionta and the Montreal Canadiens may not come to an agreement this summer. Should that turn out to be the case, Montreal will need a new captain.
Being the captain of an NHL team is a job that comes with added responsibility; being the captain of an Original Six team is a job that requires class and leadership of the highest standards. Said captains are chosen because of their leadership in the dressing room, their leadership on the ice, their work within the community and their undying loyalty, respect and dedication to the club. A captain represents what his team is all about. He has to be a mirror to his teammates and help guide young players. He believes in his teammates and his teammates believe in him.
While all captains possess these key elements, each is different in his own way. For example, Gabriel Landeskog, of the Colorado Avalanche, is one of the youngest players on the team and is already captain. He is now 21 years of age, and he scored his first NHL goal before he could order a pint at a Denver bar. There have been and remain many captains who are seasoned veterans with a combination of high point totals and control of their dressing room. Landeskog has the unique ability to inspire his teammates on the ice and off, even at his ripe age.
An example of a captain who did not put up the points but who excelled in leadership is the former Oiler Ethan Moreau. He put up only 287 points in 928 career games. But even past the physical peak of his career he was entrusted with the “C” in Edmonton (2007-2010). He was a rare sight of a captain who plays on the bottom 6 and he was as strong a leader as they come.
There are a few captains today who you might not know are captains.
- Bryce Salvador – New Jersey Devils
- Ed Jovanovski – Florida Panthers
- Andrew Ference - Edmonton Oilers
- Mark Giordano – Calgary Flames
These four all possess that x-factor coaches and management look for in leaders.
We are entering an age where the door is opening up wider and wider for younger stars to take over leadership roles. The likes of Jamie Benn in Dallas, Claude Giroux, in Philadelphia, Alex Ovechkin in Washington and Andrew Ladd in Winnipeg (24, 26, 28 and 28 years old respectively) are all paving the way. The term “young veteran” is commonly being thrown around by coaches and GMs in the NHL these days.
The reasons for a captain’s choosing vary. Jamie Benn, for instance, aside from his obvious talent, was named captain of the Dallas Stars because he is the player around whom the team decided to build. Claude Giroux was named captain of the Flyers, also in large part for the same reason, after Chris Pronger was taken away from the game due to injury. In Phoenix, Shane Doan was named captain of the Coyotes in 2003 because he is a hard-nosed leader and he has since held onto the “C” because of his time and experience amassed with the organization. Alex Ovechkin, I suppose, was always going to be named captain one day… despite some fans’ disapproval.
Now back to the Canadiens