Tag: captaincy changes

Lightning Bruins Hockey

Discussing bigger leadership roles for Steven Stamkos, Erik Johnson

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While the New York Islanders bucked the trend a bit by handing the “C” to veteran defenseman Mark Streit, young players are receiving more and more leadership roles around the NHL. From Alex Ovechkin’s captaincy with the Washington Capitals to Sidney Crosby leading the Pittsburgh Penguins and on, graybeard captains are rapidly giving way to guys who might not even be able to grow a beard.

It almost seems like a No. 1 overall pick should receive at least an alternate captain’s “A” when they sign an entry-level contract. Here’s a look at two top picks who could see an increase in responsibilities in the near future.

Should Erik Johnson be Colorado’s next captain?

The Colorado Avalanche are at tough team to gauge. After a Cinderella run to the playoffs in 2009-10, the mostly young squad absolutely fell apart last season. Young players such as budding power forward Chris Stewart and offensive defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk were traded (as was goalie Craig Anderson) during that campaign, while scoring blueliner John-Michael Liles parted ways with the team during the off-season.

With all that change in mind, the team’s 2011-12 fortunes could rest on the shoulders of players they traded for: goalie Semyon Varlamov and defenseman Erik Johnson. Johnson was the first overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, in front of players such as Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom, Jordan Staal and Claude Giroux. While Johnson has shown flashes of the brilliance the St. Louis Blues were hoping for, he fizzled out badly in 10-11 before being traded to Colorado for Stewart and Shattenkirk.

No doubt about it, the Avs hope that Johnson not only bounces back from last season, but that he’ll put together the best season of his young career. Denver Post writer Mark Kiszla goes one step further, though: he thinks Colorado should make him their new captain after Adam Foote retired from the job.

Matt Duchene​ brings the dash and flash that sells tickets. Milan Hejduk​ has more gray in his beard, Paul Stastny​ flinches less than a rock.

But are any of these fine men really the answer at captain?

Johnson is the right choice. He represents where the Avs want to go. This is a team obviously trying to tell the league it’s tired of being a pushover. At 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds, you don’t want to mess with Johnson at the blue line.

Personally, I’d go with Stastny, but Johnson would be a great representation of which forces will be most pivotal for Colorado next season.

Should Steven Stamkos wear the “A” in Tampa Bay?

Lightning head coach Guy Boucher made Stamkos an alternate captain during a preseason game, but it remains to be seen if the letter will stick. Then again, it might be right to think that it’s just a matter of time for the star sniper. Of course, it could be a while before he becomes more of a leader than current captain Vincent Lecavalier and invaluable winger Martin St. Louis, but he’s obviously a crucial cog in what should be a consistent contender.

“We know how he can play, and it’s not necessarily bringing a certain amount of points,” Lecavalier said. “It’s what he brings to the table. We know he’s going to bring more leadership this year. He deserves it.”

More than that, Boucher said, “He earned it.”


Stamkos seems like an easy choice for an alternate role, but what about Johnson’s possible quick turnaround as the Avalanche captain? Should it instead go to a veteran as a stopgap (Milan Hedjuk) or a player entering his prime like Stastny or Matt Duchene? Let us know in the comments.

Suggestions for six NHL teams who haven’t named a captain yet


However you might feel about the actual impact of a captain, a team can reveal it’s direction by who it names. Two teams recently announced their likeable decisions to name heart-and-soul forwards as their new captains. The St. Louis Blues gave the job to rugged winger David Backes while the Rangers made Ryan Callahan their new leader.

While those two teams filled those vacancies, there are still six NHL clubs without captains. Here are PHT’s polite suggestions for which direction those teams should go in.

Buffalo Sabres

Former captain: Craig Rivet

The Sabres are set to embark on the first full season of the Terry Pegula era, but the captaincy remains a bit of mystery. Jochen Hecht is a balanced veteran, but he might be on his way out soon. New acquisitions such as Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff don’t really seem like the captain types. Tyler Myers might be a bit young for that role while the team should avoid giving the “C” to their goalie Ryan Miller after Vancouver’s failed experiment with Roberto Luongo.

If I were Lindy Ruff, we’d name top center Derek Roy the captain. Perhaps Buffalo would be best served waiting a while, though, especially if hard-hitting blueliner Robyn Regehr shows some of those leadership qualities.

Colorado Avalanche

Former captain: Adam Foote

The Avalanche are a team in transition, with the 2011-12 season being a pivotal campaign. Milan Hejduk is a long-time veteran, but it seems like the clock is ticking on his impressive NHL career. Matt Duchene is an All-Star player with a great attitude, but might need a little more time to mature into the job. Erik Johnson could be a good choice if he justifies the Avs’ risky move to get him.

When you consider his contract situation (only Jan Hejda’s deal runs longer and only Semyon Varlamov matches his three remaining years), overall talent level and experience with the team, Paul Stastny might be the best option as their next captain. Besides, if it doesn’t work out, they can just trade him like the rumor mongers say.

source: APFlorida Panthers

Former captain: Bryan McCabe

The Panthers are a wildly different team than the one that last played in April, with a slew of new young players and even two veterans added in Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski. If you ask us, their options should come down to a player who’s been there through thin and really thin: Stephen Weiss. The underrated center remains their best all-around player and should serve as the backbone of this team alongside David Booth.

New Jersey Devils

Former captain: Jamie Langenbrunner

The Devils’ only have one reason not to make Zach Parise their new captain: his unclear contract situation. New Jersey should just suck it up, though, because he’s a shining example of what the team wants from their players. Honestly, handing him the “C” might help convince him that he should be a part of the team’s future … even though a similar tactic didn’t work out when Atlanta tried that method with Parise’s teammate Ilya Kovalchuk.

New York Islanders

Former captain: Doug Weight

The Islanders have some great options for their next captain (check out a lengthier discussion of the topic here). While veteran defenseman Mark Streit and rugged winger Kyle Okposo have strong chances, we’d go with John Tavares. Tavares is the obvious face of the franchise for the present and probably long-term future.

Philadelphia Flyers

Former captain: Mike Richards

Sure, he’s battling injuries and hasn’t always been the most popular guy in the world, but the Flyers should give Chris Pronger the “C.” He carries an air of authority regardless of what letter is on his shoulder and still has the makings of being an impact player in the NHL. Besides, many felt like he was their “real” captain during the last couple seasons, anyway.


Those are PHT’s picks for should-be captains, but do you think teams should consider different options? Let us know in the comments.

Atlanta Thrashers make Andrew Ladd their eighth captain


The Atlanta Thrashers named former Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Ladd their new captain, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

I have to admit, on first impact, this news was pretty surprising. Yet in the grand scheme of things, it actually makes a lot of sense.

When you think about it, Ladd is the anti-Ilya Kovalchuk. While the Thrashers’ last captain seemed to coast on his considerable skills, Ladd fights for every single thing he gets in the NHL. That’s not to say he lacks talent altogether, though. Ladd has seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 19 games this season and certainly has a pedigree: he was the fourth overall pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.

Perhaps he just needed a chance truly thrive, though, as his average of 18:50 minutes per game is more than four minutes higher than his second highest average from the 2008-09 season. NHL.com points out that Ladd is the eighth captain in the league who is 25 years old or younger and one of 11 who are 26 or younger.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay explains to Vivlamore why the team named him the new captain.

“I just think he’s the right guy. I’ve seen lots of captains in my day but he’s a well-respected person, which to me is absolutely vital in that role. I think it’s a flaw if you just make your best player the captain. In this case, we picked the player that’s played great. He’s been our best player on many nights. He’s been as committed a player as I’ve seen in a long time.”

Congratulations to Ladd, who seems like he’s really hitting his prime as a member of the Blackhawk-infused Thrashers.