Joe Thornton named San Jose Sharks captain


joethornton3.jpgThey waited until the official start of the new season to do it, but the San Jose Sharks have named a team captain. Unsurprisingly, it’s a guy a lot of folks counted on being the front-runner for the position in Joe Thornton. As for the rest of the captain’s crew, David Pollak of Working The Corners fills us in on who they are and the thought process behind naming Thornton captain.

Beyond that, Todd McLellan announced that Dan Boyle will have a “permanent ‘A’  and Patrick Marleau and Ryane Clowe would rotate as the second assistant — Marleau at home games, Clowe on the road.

McLellan indicated the choice came down to two very strong candidates, and, yes, it was clear Boyle was the other. And, yes, there was a conscious decision to pair Thornton’s more easy-going style with Boyle, who can be more intense.

Joe Thornton was a captain once before in his career as a young, up and coming star in Boston. Things there didn’t exactly turn out well. Also not reflecting well on Thornton is his seeming knack to end up not winning in the playoffs, something folks have an easy time reminding us about. Getting Boyle to be the permanent alternate captain is a solid move for the team and a lot of people were thinking he’d end up with the “C” but it wasn’t in the cards for Boyle.

The guy we’re surprised to see not get a letter is none other than Joe Pavelski. Pavelski stepped up during last year’s playoffs in a big way for the Sharks, helping lead the team past both Colorado and Detroit on the way to the Western Conference finals. It seemed like a natural move to at least get Pavelski an “A” but clearly we don’t know much of anything here apparently.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

Leave a comment

Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

1 Comment

When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado