Being an NHL captain is not an easy job. To you, simply wearing a "C" on your jersey might be easy, but it goes far beyond looking good in your team colours. Some of the greatest NHL legends were given the team captaincy throughout the years. Although former Vancouver Canucks legend Trevor Linden had to hand over the "C" to newcomer Mark Messier, and San Jose Sharks icon Patrick Marleau lost the captaincy in favour of Joe Pavelski.
It's easy to sit back and assume every captain does their job and "leads" the team, but sometimes it's evident when he's not doing his job. On the flip side, there are some players that are either alternate captains, and even some immense talents who don't wear a letter on their jersey. Some of these guys are the real leaders who should be wearing the "C" because they've shown plenty of leadership that warrants the captaincy. Looking at the NHL, there are a handful of captains that should relinquish the "C".
Here's a look at eight captains who can't lead their teams, and the teammate who should replace them.
16 Can't Lead: Steven Stamkos
Stamkos has been captain of the Lightning since 2013, and it makes sense on paper for him to be in charge. After all, the 2008 first overall pick has been far-and-away this team's best player for almost a decade. The problem with Stamkos is that he's never healthy, so he never really gets to lead on and off the ice.
Stamkos missed most of 2013-14 with a broken leg, a big chunk of 2015-16 with a blood clot and almost all of 2016-17 with a torn meniscus. The Lightning missed the playoffs in 2017 without Stamkos, and maybe a new leader should be a viable option. This is nothing against Stamkos, who is clearly well-loved and respected by his teammates. But it's hard to lead when you're not playing enough.
15 Should Replace: Victor Hedman
Hedman has been healthy for most of his career, and the big 6-foot-6 defenceman just seems to exemplify more leadership skills than Stamkos. The 2017 Norris Trophy candidate is coming off a career year that saw him score 16 goals and 70 points. Without Hedman, the Lightning would have been in the draft lottery race instead of the playoff race.
Hedman is one of the most respected and disciplined players in the NHL, with just 431 career penalty minutes in 549 games played. Hedman has earned the respect of his teammates and it has shown during Stamkos' absence. Therefore a healthier and more present leader in Hedman makes more sense as team captain. If Stamkos weren't always hurt, he would be on here. But the Lightning need a captain who is always around, and that man is Hedman.
14 Can't Lead: Henrik Sedin
This entry may drive some crazy, but hear me out. Henrik Sedin is undoubtedly the best player in Vancouver Canucks history. He and twin brother Daniel are first and second in franchise scoring, respectively. Each has a scoring title on his resume, and both nearly led the Canucks to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2011.
But the Canucks are a team in need of a new direction. They've been trying to rebuild on the fly for the past five years, and it's been a massive flop. Henrik is aging and well past his playing prime, and hasn't shown that he's the right leader for young players like Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi and Troy Stecher. In all honesty, the Sedin twins should be asking for a trade at the deadline. Keeping the twins around does nothing to help Vancouver rebuild.
13 Should Replace: Bo Horvat
Horvat is unquestionably the best player on the Canucks right now. He led the team in scoring last season with 20 goals and 52 points. The 22-year-old is only going to get better from here on out, so the Canucks should make their best player the leader. Especially considering that Horvat just signed a six-year extension, whereas 37-year-old Henrik is entering a contract year.
Vancouver is rebuilding, so it doesn't make sense to have a fading star in Henrik Sedin remain the captain, especially when Horvat has shown more than enough ability to lead this team. It worked out just fine for Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Alexander Ovechkin when they became captains at young ages. There's really no reason for the Canucks to avoid giving Horvat the captaincy.
12 Can't Lead: Andy Greene
Greene was named captain of the New Jersey Devils for the 2015-16 season, and he's not doing a great job leading this team. The Devils have been among the NHL's most inconsistent clubs during the 2010s, having made the playoffs just twice. They haven't reached the postseason since 2012, when the Los Angeles Kings beat them in six games to capture their first Stanley Cup.
Long-time Devils leaders like Martin Brodeur, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta have been gone for a while now. New Jersey has done a horrible job transitioning into a new era of hockey, and some of the blame for that has to fall on a lack of leadership. Greene would be better off handing over the "C" to another player and allow that guy to become the leader of this franchise for the long run.
11 Should Replace: Taylor Hall
Hall came over to New Jersey in a trade last season that sent Adam Larsson over to the Edmonton Oilers. Though Hall's old team never got it going during his six seasons there, he displayed some leadership and was able to help young players like Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid assert themselves into the lineup.
Unless 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier impresses at his debut, Hall is basically the only scoring threat on New Jersey - especially when considering that Travis Zajac will miss several months of the season. If Hall is far-and-away the team's best player, he should be the one leading this young New Jersey team. Greene has had his chance to show that he can be a leader for New Jersey, but he hasn't done that. It'd be best for him to hand the captaincy over to Hall, who deserves a chance at being the team's leader.
10 Can't Lead: Mikko Koivu
For a long time under former head coach Jacques Lemaire, the Wild would change captains every so often. But Mikko Koivu has donned the "C" since 2009 with mixed results so far. On one hand, Koivu has helped the Wild reach the playoffs in five consecutive years, but they haven't gotten past the second round. Minnesota has underperformed for the most part, despite so much world class talent on their roster. It's not necessarily that Koivu is a terrible leader, but there are just better players and better leaders on the Wild roster.
Koivu is 35 years of age and is nearing the end of his playing career. With the Wild experiencing so much inconsistency over the years, it'd be better off for Minnesota to hand it over to a different player.
9 Should Replace: Ryan Suter
It's actually pretty surprising that Suter hasn't been a captain yet. Once Shea Weber's wing man with the Nashville Predators, Suter has morphed into a Norris-caliber defenceman since joining the Wild on a 13-year contract worth $98 million in 2012. He's taken Minnesota to the playoffs in his five years there, and Suter has done aplenty to earn himself the "C" on his jersey.
Suter is 32 years of age -- three years younger than Koivu -- but has shown zero signs of slowing down. He barely takes penalties, is respected by both his players and coaches, and brings tremendous leadership to the table.
If the Wild want to reach that next level of greatness, they might want to think about a captaincy change. Suter has shown that he's more than qualified for it.
8 Can't Lead: Blake Wheeler
The Winnipeg Jets have way too much talent all over the place to be this mediocre. They have a top-10 scorer in Mark Scheifele, a rising goal-scoring sensation in Patrik Laine, plus other talents like Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, Jacob Trouba, Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien.
But with all due respect to Wheeler, it's becoming more and more evident that his leadership isn't all that strong. The Jets are a fairly young team but don't have the leader that can hold this group together. Winnipeg is long overdue to make the playoffs on a consistent basis, but they've done so just once in six years of re-existence. Wheeler is still a very good player but that doesn't mean he comes with tremendous leadership. Recently extended head coach Paul Maurice should be getting bold and start thinking about stripping Wheeler of the captaincy.
7 Should Replace: Mark Scheifele
Scheifele has come out of nowhere to become one of the NHL's top scorers. It took the former 2011 first round pick a while to put it altogether, but the Jets have been pleased with the rewards. He's coming off a 32-goal, 82-point season and should be considered a dark horse for the scoring title this upcoming season.
With Scheifele and Laine being the future of the Jets, it only makes sense for Winnipeg to hand over more responsibilities to their young players. Scheifele seems to mesh better with the younger players, and he should therefore be the captain. It's clear the Jets need to make some tweaks if they want to be a better team. Making a rising star in Scheifele the captain would be genius.
6 Can't Lead: Max Pacioretty
Pacioretty has been the Canadiens captain for two years now, and it's become evident that he's not the right choice. Remember when the Habs were the NHL's top team early in 2015-16? That was before Carey Price got injured, missed the final five months and the Habs missed the playoffs entirely.
Heck, former Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien even criticized Pacioretty as a captain. Even though he's a pure goal-scorer (posting 35-40 goals a season), Pacioretty just doesn't come with much leadership. Montreal has cycled through coaches and they've experienced multiple playoff failures under Pacioretty's reign. The Canadiens Cup window is slowly closing, but they're really only a couple of tweaks away from being a contender. Perhaps stripping Pacioretty of the captaincy is what they need to take it to that next level.
5 Should Replace: Shea Weber
The Canadiens turned out just fine when they shipped away P.K. Subban for Shea Weber (at least for now). While Subban may be a bit flashier and obviously younger, he definitely had some attitude and disciplinary issues. Weber is more reserved and respected as a leader, and has all the assets needed to be the next great captain of the Habs.
Weber has plenty of playoff experience and owns a pair of Olympic gold medals with Team Canada, meaning he knows what it takes to win the big games. The Canadiens played a lot more sound defensively and were more responsible with the puck with Weber on the team. He was a great captain for Nashville after turning them into a perennial Western Conference juggernaut. If the Canadiens really want a great leader to look up to, then Weber should be their man. It's that simple.
4 Can't Lead: Derek MacKenzie
MacKenzie is a 36-year-old NHL veteran who has 48 goals and 111 points in 535 career NHL games. He's never been much of an impact player, and it's very surprising to see that he's currently the captain of the Florida Panthers. I mean, Roberto Luongo used to be captain of the Canucks, why didn't the Panthers give him the "C" back?
And why on earth was Jaromir Jagr not Florida's captain during his time there? It's all beyond me. MacKenzie just doesn't seem to do a whole lot for the Panthers as a player or as a leader. MacKenzie is nearing the end of his NHL playing career, and the youthful Panthers truly need a new voice in the locker room. Time for MacKenzie to give up the captaincy to this man...
3 Should Replace: Aaron Ekblad
Ekblad was drafted first overall by the Panthers in 2014, and he's quickly emerged as the team's top player. The star blueliner was given an eight-year extension worth $60 million a year ago, further showcasing just how much the Panthers value Ekblad as both a leader and a player.
Florida has to stop playing games and simply hand the captaincy over to Ekblad. He's one of the few bright spots on a team that's been fairly inconsistent for most of the 21st century. The organization clearly values him as the player they want to build around, so why isn't he donning the "C"? The Panthers need to give their star player more responsibility, and Ekblad has all the tools needed to be a respected leader. If MacKenzie doesn't relinquish the captaincy, at least we know Ekblad will probably take it when the former retires.
2 Can't Lead: Gabriel Landeskog
The Colorado Avalanche drafted Landeskog second overall in 2011, and they viewed him instantly as a franchise player. Before the 2012-13 season, Colorado made Landeskog captain at the age of 19 years and 286 days. That made him the youngest captain in NHL history, but he's unfortunately among the worst of them today.
The Avalanche have made the playoffs just once since Landeskog was drafted six years ago. Colorado was the NHL's worst team by a mile in 2016-17, and Landeskog and fellow Avs star Matt Duchene found their names in trade rumors. At this point, it seems like a matter of when and not if the two get traded. If Colorado decides to keep Landeskog around, they're going to have to at least force him to give up the captaincy. He's had plenty of time to show he's a true leader, and it just hasn't worked out.
1 Should Replace: Tyson Barrie
With the Avalanche entering a major rebuilding stage, there aren't many players that have long-term security in the Mile High City. But slick 26-year-old defenceman Tyson Barrie figures to be one of the few franchise building blocks they'll hold onto for a while. As such, it makes sense for Barrie to be the captain.
Again, Landeskog is probably going to get traded soon anyway. That means the Avalanche will need to be ready for a captain, and Barrie is an ideal candidate. He's a stud on the ice and is well-respected by his teammates. At this point the Avalanche have to hit the reset button and begin making some changes. Perhaps allowing Barrie to become the new captain could pay dividends in the rebuild.
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