Greetings Winning Habit Readers,
My name is Milan Maligec and I have been a Montreal Canadiens fan for over 20 years. I am proud and excited for this opportunity to be a writer for a winning habit and look forward to your feedback on my inaugural post. I spent some time pondering what my first post would be and was considering re-posting my original submission to join the staff, but I decided to wait for now and go with who would be the best choice for captain of the Montreal Canadiens.
With the trade of Josh Gorges to the Buffalo Sabres and the loss of Brian Gionta due to free agency (also to Buffalo), the Habs created a leadership vacuum as they lost their captain and his heir-apparent in the course of an hour on July 1st. The brass in Montreal’s head office sent a signal that a new leadership group must come forward and the youth must step up and take charge. So the question remains on who should be the 32nd captain of the Habs?
Prust is certainly a dark horse candidate for the job, but he does bring a lot of intangibles to the table so he has at least earned a mention in the conversation. He never takes a shift off, always willing to lay his body on the line, will stand up for his teammates at the drop of a hat (or glove) and is very comfortable talking to the media. All aspects of a good captain to lead the team into battle for Lord Stanley, but of course there are downsides as well. His contract is up after next season which would make him a transitional captain (which may not be too bad) but the biggest detriment is that honestly, Prust is a bottom 6 player that can play on the top 6 in a pinch. A captain needs to be on the ice as much as possible and needs to be counted on when the game is on the line. As much as we all love the guy, that is just not Brandon Prust.
Pacioretty has proven that he can score, and score a lot. He’s led the team in goals the last 2 years, and in points the last 3. He came back from that devastating hit by Chara not only to play again, but excel at a level only reached by a few. He has a very calm, cool, and collected demeanor on the ice but still plays with the intensity needed to get the job done. Where Pacioretty starts to lack is in his interviews with the media and his less than ideal defensive play (although it improves every day). Although he has gotten better in front of the ravenous reporters, it is still something he is not comfortable with and the added pressure of being captain may push him deeper into one of his slumps that he tends to get into during the season, or worse still, out of Montreal.
When it comes to the captaincy, Subban is the anti-Pacioretty. He is amazing in front of the media, loves the pressure that comes from being in Montreal, and would bask in being the face of the franchise with a smile on his face along the way. Where his downside shows is his sometimes questionable decisions on the ice that can get the team in trouble, or sometimes cost the team the game. He can get a little hot-headed at times which can be a good thing as it shows his passion for the game and the team, but it does get him into trouble with penalties and bad judgement calls on the ice. He has gotten better in this regard, but he still needs time to mature into the defensive stalwart the habs need him to be.
Tomas is the habs go to guy for just about everything. Need a power play play maker, send in Tomas, need someone to take that penalty kill face off, Tomas is your guy, last minute in a tied game 7 of the playoffs, Tomas will be on the ice. The biggest and most difficult assignments are always given to the man from Kladno and he tends to shine and thrive in those situations. He has a calm, cool demeanor but always brings it and never takes an off shift and has the respect and admiration of his teammates and fans alike. His only detractor is that he is not the most natural person in front of the cameras and with the media storms that occur in Montreal, the captain would be required to be in front of them all the time. This doesn’t mean he can’t do it, it just means that the press will be hounding him and his frustrations with having to deal with the media can potentially lead to frustrations on the ice
Andrei was in the running for the job the last time it came up, and it would stand to reason he would be up for it again. He is a general on and off the ice. When he speaks, everyone listens and takes his words to heart. He is on the ice for every pivotal situation, works the power play and penalty kill, logs the most minutes and always keeps his cool. When he first came into the league, he would avoid the cameras like the plague, but after a decade in Montreal, he has gotten a lot better and a lot more comfortable. The only knocks against him is that he is 35 and only has 3 years left on his contract and he still isn’t super comfortable in front of the cameras. The short term nature of his contract can be a good thing as it would give him the honor of being the captain and transition PK into that role in 3-5 years when Markov retires and moves into the habs head office.
When it comes down to it, there are 5 great choices for the next captain of the Canadiens, but when it comes down to making a final decision, my thoughts are that they will give the honor to Markov and help groom PK into the role when Markov finally decides to hang up the skates in a few years.