As of today, there are 8 NHL teams who have a vacancy at team captain. While it is not technically mandatory to have a captain (3 alternates can be designated instead), having a solitary figure at the forefront of team leadership is good for the team psyche. (Plus, I challenge the hockey scholars to find me a case where a Stanley Cup winning team did not have a captain.) So with that in mind, I will now single-handedly solve the Captain Crises around the league.<br /><br />Atlanta Thrahers - Ilya Kovalchuk<br />Given the tension currently existing between franchise and franchise player, being named captain could soften the blows a little. Not only that, but look at that roster. Who else are you going to pick? Ken Klee??<br /><br />Florida Panthers – Nathan Horton<br />It was a close call between Horton and Stephen Weiss, who undoubtedly should get an ‘A’. But from what I’ve seen of the Panthers, Horton appears most ready to succeed Olli Jokinen.<br /><br />Los Angeles Kings – Anze Kopitar<br />He’s going to be captain of this young team one day, so why not now? His only competition for the ‘C’ is Jack Johnson, another good choice. But to this point, Kopitar has symbolically seized the reigns of a perennial rebuilder and will be the defining factor in whether or not this team finally makes the playoffs for the first time since 2002.<br /><br />New York Rangers – Chris Drury<br />Here you have perhaps the toughest decision to make. Drury has already served as captain on another team, as has Markus Naslund. But while Naslund appears more like a stop-gap for the Rangers’ youth to develop, Drury was clearly brought in to be a leader, and there appears no better candidate to become THE leader.<br /><br />Philadelphia Flyers – Mike Richards<br />You have plenty of potential candidates for the Flyers’ captaincy, including Daniel Briere and Kimmo Timonen, but the Flyers have all but stated that Richards will wear the ‘C’ one day. And with Jason Smith departed for Ottawa, Richards - coming off a year in which he more than doubled his career high in points - is ready to assume the role now.<br /><br />Tampa Bay Lightning – Vincent Lecavalier<br />Like Atlanta, Tampa Bay has waited long enough to annoint its franchise player as team captain. Lecavalier has served as captain before, only to be deemed too immature to maintain the honor. But that was then, this is now, and Lecavalier has racked up enough experience (and a lifetime contract) to warrant another shot, one he surely will be ready for this time around. He certainly didn’t sign his career away just to wear an ‘A’.<br /><br />Toronto Maple Leafs – Tomas Kaberle<br />The Leafs can go in one of two directions here: they can either 1) Annoint one of their previous alternates (Kaberle & McCabe), in which case it would be Kaberle given all the talk McCabe being dealt to Florida… or 2) Symbolically commit to their youth movement and stitch the ‘C’ to one of their more dynamic younger players. My vote in this case would go to Nik Antropov. However, being we are talking about the ultra-conservative Leafs, I say give it to Kaberle now, with Antropov next in line.<br /><br />Vancouver Canucks – Daniel Sedin<br />You can make the fair argument that Ryan Kesler is ready to take over for Naslund, and you would be justified in thinking so. But the productive Sedin brother would fill the void just as well, and perhaps this would put a little push on Henrik to keep up. As with Toronto, however, a move like this would unofficially start the clock for the reign of Kesler.
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