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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 &#038; 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.
Filed Under:   nhl   team   captain  
August 21, 2008 7:21 PM ET | Delete
I think you forgot about a guy named Dustin Brown in L.A., he definetley has as good a shot as Kopitar in my mind, I also think Matty Ohlund will be the Canucks next captain. I agree with your other picks though.
August 21, 2008 9:32 PM ET | Delete
Ohlund is not a bad choice either. I just checked and he is not as old as I thought he was.
August 21, 2008 10:18 PM ET | Delete
What a great blog, I'm surprised nobody has done it before now! I agree that Vancouver will go with Ohlund most likely. On teams like that its kind of a shame goaltenders can't be Captains. Its pretty obvious Luongo and Miller lead their respected clubs. Speaking of which, is Buffalo keeping with the rotation still? They should pick a leader.... I disagree about Florida, I'd make Stillman Captain, he's a man amoung boys on that team, a proven winner and a veteran leader. New to the team maybe, and past his prime but the best choice in my eyes. I agree with the rest though.
August 21, 2008 10:52 PM ET | Delete
It's not that Stillman can't be a leader, it's just been rare that a free agent signing instantly gets named captain without at least a little bit of time playing on the team. Come December, if the Panthers still have no captain, than he's definitely up there as a choice. As far as Buffalo, last I heard Pominville might be named permanent captain, but don't quote me on it. That's the only reason I left them off. I think Numminen should captain Buffalo although I agree with you, clearly Miller is the true leader on that team.
August 22, 2008 12:01 PM ET | Delete
Jason Smith was given the C in Philly last year, his only in a Flyers uni, wasn't he? Billy Guerin in NYI was given the C his first year after signing on. It's not unprecidented. Stillman would make a great pick, but you can't go wrong with Horton.
August 22, 2008 1:39 PM ET | Delete
I agree with most of your picks but captains dont have to be the superstars on the team. Look at the oilers, Ethan Moreau is a great captain, probably one of the best in the league, and he is good for maybe 15 goals a season. So in that case i would disagree with the kings making kopitar a captain. I agree he will be one in the future but they have so many young players that they need a veteran leading that team. Its a little out there but I would go with someone like Jarret Stoll. He was close to getting it in edmonton, and plus he was an awesome alternate.
August 22, 2008 4:18 PM ET | Delete
Not unprecedented, no, just doesn't happen often. If the Panthers feel thats the best move for them, I think you could do a lot worse than Cory Stillman.
August 22, 2008 7:28 PM ET | Delete
As a Leaf fan, I think I'd prefer the three alternates to anything... and where I disagree is that Matt Stajan is a much better choice than Nik Antropov in that Stajan was a source of leadership last year in dealing with the media, the fans and teammates. It was often Stajan answering the tough questions in the post-game media scrum... I think the kid has the chops to succeed in the pressure cooker... Kaberle wins for time served, but for merit, its all Stajan...
August 23, 2008 11:09 AM ET | Delete
I made a list prior to reading this that matched yours on 7 of 8 teams. I think LA would be wise to choose someone other then Kopitar, I think Frolov is the better choice there and could really find a new reason to step up and stay healthy.
August 23, 2008 3:38 PM ET | Delete
The Sabres are missing a Captain also
August 23, 2008 5:49 PM ET | Delete
CSullivan, I can't really disagree. I don't doubt, however, that if LA manages to keep Kopitar around for a while, he will definitely be the captain at some point. And to the poster after that, I didn't include Buffalo because I heard somewhere Pominville was going to stay captain. Now I'm hearing that isn't true, so I think they should make Numminen the captain and stop rotating.
August 25, 2008 6:37 PM ET | Delete
I don't think you need a captain. The head coach and the other coaches are enough. Additionally, once you appoint a captain, you're telling the other players they are secondary to this anointed luminary.
August 25, 2008 8:20 PM ET | Delete
I think (hope) most players know this is all just symbolic. A team can never have too many leaders, and most of them don't wear a letter, but it doesn't matter.
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