What’s in a ‘C’? NHL groups put worth in having a captain


After greater than three years of debate about who must be captain of the New York Rangers, they reached the Eastern Conference ultimate and bought inside six wins of the Stanley Cup with out one.

Players by no means mentioned who would have hoisted the Cup had they gained it.

“We would have figured that out, though,” defenseman Jacob Trouba stated. “Trust me.”

If the Rangers win all of it this season for the primary time since 1994, it’ll be Trouba, who was named the Original Six franchise’s twenty eighth captain this previous summer time.

NHL groups are again to placing huge worth in an old-school hockey custom: The rebuilding Montreal Canadiens gave the ‘C’ to Nick Suzuki and the Philadelphia Flyers are anticipated to have a captain sooner or later after new coach John Tortorella learns extra about his gamers.

“It’s a great hierarchy,” stated Jordan Staal, who’s going into his third season because the Carolina Hurricanes’ captain. “Just to kind of know that that’s the guy that the coach can run things through or whatever it is if he needs to and really kind of be the first guy that takes the brunt on on certain things and maybe eases it for some younger guys.”

No sport makes an even bigger deal of getting a singular captain than hockey, a prestigious job that not solely entails being the purpose particular person for coaches and administration but in addition speaking to referees on the ice and often taking the largest position within the locker room on the subject of answering powerful questions.

“The big thing is you’ve got to be on it at all times: before practice, during practice, after, during games,” stated Brady Tkachuk, who turned captain of the Ottawa Senators early final season. “And I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge, but it’s just something that I was fortunate to learn from, and lean on, other guys.”

Five years in the past when the Vegas Golden Knights turned the league’s thirty first franchise, they opted to not identify a captain at first. They had been even nearer than the Rangers to a giant choice, reaching the Stanley Cup Final and being three victories away.

Even although accidents restricted Steven Stamkos to below three minutes of ice time through the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2020 bubble run to the championship, the longtime captain placed on his uniform to simply accept the trophy from Commissioner Gary Bettman.

The Seattle Kraken named Mark Giordano captain immediately. They’re now one in every of seven groups with out one after buying and selling him to Toronto on the deadline.

Philadelphia has been with no captain since buying and selling Claude Giroux to Florida in March, and Tortorella has stated he would take his time to determine who’s subsequent. With the Flyers not anticipated to contend this season for his or her first Cup championship since 1975, it’s actually no rush.

“Eventually you want to put someone in that leadership role,” stated Cam Atkinson, one of many main candidates to get the ‘C’ with Philadelphia. “I think eventually we’ll need a captain. But at the same time, there’s a lot more issues at stake for us to figure out before electing a captain.”

Sometimes inner points could make the worth of a captain work the opposite method. Before opening coaching camp, the Winnipeg Jets stripped Blake Wheeler of the “C” and dedicated to not having one participant in that position this season. First-year coach Rick Bowness stated on the time, “With a new staff, it’s a good time to look at changing the leadership of the room.”

It’s uncommon — however not remarkable — for a participant to lose the captaincy and stick with a crew. It occurred twice with San Jose over the previous 15 years, with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton every getting the ‘C’ taken away. Even two-time Stanley Cup-winning captain Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings misplaced it.

Those groups shortly moved to call a brand new captain, and Vegas ultimately picked one in Mark Stone, who was not a part of the crew that bought to the ultimate. Stone instructed teammates he nonetheless wished their enter on matters, however he’s keenly conscious that the designation is significant.

“It’s not just one guy — you got a whole leadership group of guys,” Stone stated. “(But) I guess if you look at winning the Stanley Cup, I don’t know when the last team has won without one.”

That drought is now at 50 years because the Boston Bruins in 1972.


Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno


More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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