There are a handful of NHL teams who are without a captain, including the St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils. To some fans, that might be a cause for concern, while others wonder if the role is actually a little overrated.
Doug Weight’s retirement leaves the New York Islanders without a symbolic leader, which could make sense if the team backs up the hopeful narrative that the franchise will finally turning things around in 2011-12. If the team wants to take the easy way out, they could always play pin the tail on the nearest available valuable veteran and just hand the “C” to Mark Streit. After all, the offensive defenseman was the team’s biggest star before his season-ending injury last summer.
Then again, teams are just as likely to hand the captain’s role to a young face of their franchise. If that trend continues with the Islanders, then they might turn to John Tavares – the first pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and their most recognizable offensive talent.
“I’d love to be (captain),” Tavares told NHL.com Thursday morning. “I definitely understand maybe I am still too young and just need to worry about the game, but if it was presented to me, it definitely would be something I would talk about and make sure it’s the right decision for the group and for myself as well. I’d love to be a leader of this team.
“Mark Streit and Kyle are great guys and are going to be highly recommended, for sure. But I still feel I’ll be a big leader no matter what, and I’ll still have a lot of responsibility in a lot of ways. Whatever way it goes, it’s going to be a guy that definitely deserves it and will do a great job at it. If I get the opportunity, it would be a huge honor.”
Much like the Devils’ situation with Zach Parise, the Islanders might be a bit apprehensive to hand Tavares the captaincy while he’s in a contract year. Of course, he’ll only be a restricted free agent in 2012 and the team should have more than enough cap space to keep him around for the foreseeable future, so that might be a moot point.
Whether he wears a “C” on his shoulder or not, Tavares will be a leader for the Islanders. Some think he might be among the NHL’s scoring leaders as well, but we’ll have to see if he takes the next step in his development (he went from 24 goals and 54 points in 2009-10 to 29 goals and 67 points in 10-11) in his third season.
For Islanders fans reading this post, would you rather see Tavares, Streit, Kyle Okposo or someone else become the captain next season? Let us know in the comments.