Every NHL Team's Best And Worst Captain Ever

More than any other sport, hockey embraces the notion that the team should look to one guy for leadership. In football or baseball, all facets of the game work as small cogs in a giant machine. Everyone plays their part and hopes the next man is doing the same. Hockey requires all of the players to be on the same page. To know when to attack, when to retreat, when to lay your right fist into the face of a goon for taking a shot at your graceful but weak superstar. One guy is looked to for guidance. One guy needs to hold his teammates to the highest standard and establish the tone needed to achieve glory.

Some are born to lead, others to follow. A captain is not always a great player, but a captain should always represent greatness. Below is a list of the best and worst of all 30 NHL franchises. To be the worst captain for any particular team is not necessarily an insult. These are supposed to be the best of the best. Some couldn't help but fall into a terrible situation. Some just didn't have that x-factor to inspire. A few were handed the "C" on a silver spoon strictly because of talent. Many greats were left off the list due to tough competition, while others were forced on due to their team's history of ineptitude. So let's get to it, here are the best and worst captains for all 30 NHL teams!

Note: in the interest of going as far back as possible, the previous incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets will count as the current Jets' entry in this article.

30 Anaheim Ducks


Best: Ryan Getzlaf

Although Scott Niedermayer captained the Ducks first and only Stanley Cup victory in 2010, Getzlaf was a budding star and leader for the team and took the reins of captain the following season. Since then, he has consistently been one of the league's best players for the perennially Cup-contending Ducks. Getzlaf is the face of the franchise, which no longer carries the stigma of being a glorified advertisement for a Disney film franchise.

Worst: Troy Loney

29 Arizona Coyotes


Best: Shane Doan

With only three captains since moving to Phoenix in 1996, choices are slim for the Arizona Coyotes. One major reason is that Shane Doan has been leading the team for 12 years. He has been with the same team for 21 years and has been the one stable presence for a the often struggling franchise. While the team may not have had much success, it has more to do with poor management that Doan's leadership.

Worst: Teppo Numminen

28 Boston Bruins


Best: Zdeno Chara

At a staggering height of 6'9" this Slavak monster has stood tall over his fellow Bruins for over a decade. With the Bruins' long and storied history, Chara faced stiff competition to land the spot as best captain. Luckily for him, Boston did not have a captain during their glory years of the late 60s and early 70s. Chara led the Bruins to end a 39-year drought with a Stanley Cup win in 2011.

Worst: George Owen

27 Buffalo Sabres


Best: Gilbert Perreault

As the center of the famed "French Connection" line of the 1970s, Gilbert Perreault quickly became the face of the Buffalo Sabres during their run as one of the best expansion teams of the era. He played in Buffalo for 17 seasons and leads the team in games played, goals, assists, and points. Perreault brought the Sabres within two games of winning the Cup versus the Flyers in 1975, just five years after the team joined the NHL.

Worst: Floyd Smith

26 Calgary Flames


Best: Jarome Iginla

As Flames' captain for 11 years, Jarome Iginla is the longest-serving in the team's history. In his first year wearing the "C" he led Calgary to the Stanley Cup finals as well as leading the NHL in goals. Despite his star-power and scoring finesse, he is a hard-nosed player who's not afraid to do the dirty work. After a decade of lackluster play, the Flames were almost always a contender during Iginla's reign.

Worst: Todd Simpson

25 Carolina Hurricanes


Best: Rod Brind’Amour

In Philadelphia, Rod Brind'Amour was always a fan favorite regarded as one of the strongest leaders in the NHL, but was unable to don the "C" behind Flyers' superstar, Eric Lindros. When he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 1999, he was immediately rewarded with the captaincy. Brind'Amour helped to significantly improve the credibility and less than rabid fan base in Carolina, even leading them to their only Stanley Cup victory in 2006.

Worst: Kevin Dineen

24 Chicago Blackhawks


Best: Jonathan Toews

Jonathan Toews makes the list despite the fact that he's only 28 years old. It's not at all hard to believe when you see that he already has captained three Stanley Cup runs. Toews is one of the league's marque players, and there's no sign he's slowing down. By the time he hangs up his skates, he could easily break Wayne Gretzky and Dennis Potvin's record of winning 4 Cups as captain since the league expanded from the "Original Six".

Worst: Helge "Bulge, Arbuckle" Bostrom

23 Colorado Avalanche


Worst: Gabriel Landeskog

22 Columbus Blue Jackets


Best: Adam Foote

While there was no way Adam Foote could take on his teammate Joe Sakic as best captain of the Avalanche, it wasn't very hard for him to capture the title of greatest Blue Jackets' captain. Foote took his Stanley Cup experience to upstart Columbus in 2006, but was unable to replicate the success with a less-talented roster. Even so, he was an intimidating presence on the blue line that no player wanted to cross.

Worst: Nick Foligno

21 Dallas Stars


Best: Derian Hatcher

Derian Hatcher was a bruising body-checker who added toughness to the juggernaut Dallas Stars who were more renowned for their scoring than their hitting. He led the Stars to their only Stanley Cup win in 1999 and was the first to raise the Cup, even playing alongside superstars like Mike Modano and Ed Belfour. Hatcher left his mark in Dallas by making hockey cool, and he left his mark on opponents by dropping them on the ice.

Worst: Neal Broten

20 Detroit Red Wings


Best: Steve Yzerman

Steve Yzerman is the consummate captain, serving longer than any other player in NHL history at 21 consecutive years. He was such a great leader, Detroit fans often refer to him as just "The Captain". Under his leadership, the Red Wings were the most dominant team of their era, winning three Stanley Cups and five first-place regular season finishes. If Detroit is "Hockeytown", then Steve Yzerman is the mayor with the keys to the city.

Worst: Doug Young

19 Edmonton Oilers


Best: Wayne Gretzky

No surprises here. One could argue that his teammate Mark Messier was the superior leader, but the fact remains, if you had Wayne Gretzky captaining your team, you were winning. "The Great One" holds just about every meaningful scoring record and is well-regarded as the best player of all time. Gretzky was awarded the Hart Trophy nine times as the league's MVP. The NHL even decided to retire his number '99' league-wide, the only player with such an honor.

Worst: Andrew Ference

18 Florida Panthers


Best: Scott Mellanby

Scott Mellanby might be the least impressive of the "best captains". It's not an insult to him as much as it's an insult to the Florida Panthers. Mellanby was the team's leading scorer during their lone Stanley Cup appearance in 1996 and later was named captain. He had a long career after leaving Florida and ended up as captain of the Atlanta Thrashers, perhaps the only team more pathetic than the Panthers.

Worst: Derek MacKenzie

17 Los Angeles Kings


Best: Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown is everything a team looks for in a captain. He's tough as nails, leads by example, and helps his team win hockey games. The Kings have been around for 50 years, but have mostly been a laughing stock other than their brief period with Wayne Gretzky. Brown lead a star-studded roster of much more-talented players to two Stanley Cups in three years and multiple deep playoff runs.

Worst: Bob Wall

16 Minnesota Wild

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Best: Mikko Koivu

In 2009, Mikko Koivu became the only Minnesota Wild player to serve as captain for an entire season after taking over from their system of rotating captains. Since he is the only permanent captain in their history, he basically wins by default. That's not to say he isn't a good player. Koivu did captain the Finnish national team to a gold medal in the 2011 Men's World Ice Hockey Championship.

Worst: Too Close To Call

15 Montreal Canadiens


Best: Jean Beliveau

Jean Beliveau has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup 17 times! Granted, seven of those came as an executive, but 10 of them didn't! He won two Hart Trophies as NHL MVP and is unanimously regarded as an all-time great. Beliveau is so beloved in Canada that their Prime Minister offered him a spot in the Senate without even being elected! Being a smarter man than the Prime Minister, Jean declined thinking elected officials should be... elected.

Worst: Billy Coutu

14 Nashville Predators


Best: Shea Weber

For 10 seasons, Shea Weber was a powerful force at the blue line and turned the Predators into a respectable organization. After years of struggles, things finally started to turn around in Nashville once Shea arrived. They didn't have overwhelming postseason success, but it was a marked improvement over the franchise's early years. To the fans' dismay, Weber was dealt to Montreal for P.K. Subban last off-season, where he should continue to lead his team.

Worst: Greg Johnson

13 New Jersey Devils

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Best: Scott Stevens

Scott Stevens was a truly terrifying figure, just ask Eric Lindros. Bigger than most, but by no means a giant, the Devils' longtime captain played with intensity that few could match. Stevens was one of the most feared defensemen in the league and no matter who you were, he could put you on the ice at any moment. Alongside goalie Martin Broduer, Stevens was the perfect figurehead for a Devils team that matched his style, winning three Cups in the process.

Worst: Andy Greene

12 New York Islanders


Best: Denis Potvin

Denis Potvin is the only player not named Wayne Gretzky to win the Cup as a captain four times! Potvin's Islanders were the original dynasty of the 80s before Gretzky's Oilers. Although Edmonton's reign may have been more glamorous, the guys on Long Island deserve just as much glory. Potvin was originally disliked by teammates for being overly brash and arrogant, but like many greats before him, he honed his ability and lead his team to the top, again and again, and again, and again.

Worst: Kenny Jonsson

11 New York Rangers


Best: Mark Messier

If we were ranking all time captains in NHL history, Mark Messier arguably belongs at the top of that list. He won six Cups and is the only player to win Cups as captain of two different teams, the Oilers and Rangers. He earned the nickname "The Messiah" after ending a 54-year Stanley Cup drought for the Rangers. Messier is a two-time Hart Trophy winner as MVP and one of the greatest players to ever play.

Worst: Jaromir Jagr

10 Ottawa Senators


Best: Daniel Alfredsson

Daniel Alfredsson captained the Senators for 14 seasons and represents a time of prosperity for Ottawa. He holds most of the team's scoring records and led them to their only Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2007. Alfredsson has drawn comparisons to Red Wings' great Steve Yzerman for both his playing style and leadership. He may have never got his name on the cup, but he did take the Swedish national team to a gold medal in the 2006 Olympics.

Worst: Gord Dineen

9 Philadelphia Flyers


Best: Bobby Clarke

The face of the infamous Broad Street Bullies, Bobby Clarke is still hated among opposing fans, three decades removed from the ice. Growing up with type 1 diabetes, Bobby overcame this deficit to go on to lead the baddest team to ever play. The Flyers struck fear throughout the league, physically exhausted and psychologically scarred their opponents to win back-to-back Cups. Clarke individually won two Hart Trophies as league MVP and was a 1st ballot hall of famer.

Worst: Jason Smith

8 Pittsburgh Penguins


Best: Mario Lemieux

Sorry, Sidney Crosby, but as of this moment, Mario Lemieux has to top the list of Penguins' captains. "66" is one of the only players who is often argued to be better than "99", Wayne Gretzky. Mario is the all-time leader in points-per-game and could have broken records had his career not been scarred with injury. He won back-to-back Cups and shockingly came out of a three-year retirement to play six more seasons.

Worst: Dan Frawley

7 San Jose Sharks


Best: Owen Nolan

The only Irish-born NHL captain, Owen Nolan held things down in San Jose and gave them respectability. While they didn't have much post-season success, Nolan led the pack and kept the Sharks swimming in the right direction.He lead them farther then they had ever been with a first round upset versus the 1st seed St. Louis Blues. It might not sound like much, but for the Sharks, it was all they could hope for.

Worst: Patrick Marleau

6 St. Louis Blues


Best: Brian Sutter

The Sutter family produced six NHL playing brothers, and Brian was probably the best. He wasn't a hall of fame caliber winger, but he was a model of stability as captain of the Blues for nine seasons. They never won a Cup, or even appeared in the Final with Sutter, but he is still a legend in St. Louis. He went on to become a coach for 14 years and appeared in the playoffs most seasons.

Worst: Garth Butcher

5 Tampa Bay Lightning


Best: Dave Andreychuk

Fans and analysts were more than puzzled when aging veteran Dave Andreychuk signed with the struggling Lightning. He quickly took the captaincy from rising star Vincent Lecavalier, but the team had two seasons of poor performance. Andreychuk shot down trade rumors as he did not want to leave Tampa Bay without completing his mission. He seemingly willed the Lightning to success and they went on to win their first Stanley Cup in 2004.

4 Toronto Maple Leafs


Best: Ted Kennedy

No relation to JFK, Ted Kennedy is the best regarded player for the biggest hockey fan base in the world. He led the Maple Leafs to 5 Stanley Cup victories and practically owned the city of Toronto. Kennedy did win a Hart Trophy as MVP, but was never thought of as the league's best player. He crafted his legacy with hard-work, smart play, and strong leadership led him to be known as "The Quintessential Leaf".

Worst: Rick Vaive

3 Vancouver Canucks


Best: Stan Smyl

Perhaps the greatest Canuck of them all, Stan "Streamer" Smyl has a hard-nosed, no-nonsense leader despite his small stature. At 5'8", he had his work cut out for him, but his slick style of play allowed him to compete with guys twice his size and even lay out big hits whenever he had the chance. He was a major contributor to the Canucks run to the Final in 1982 and is forever a hero in Vancouver.

Worst: Chris Oddleifson

2 Washington Capitals


Best: Rod Langway

"The Secretary of Defense", Rod Langway went a long way into turning around a Capitals team that was scraping the basement of the league trying to stay in Washington. No, he wasn't able to take the Caps to the promised land on a low budget, but he did get them to the playoffs, a rarity in those days. Langway wasn't flashy, but he was a bruising hitter who set the tone for a defensive minded team.

Worst: Guy Charron

1 Winnipeg Jets


Best: Dale Hawerchuk

For a team mostly devoid of star-power, Dale Hawerchuk represents the golden era for Winnipeg. While they crashed and burned in the playoffs, the Jets were a consistent contender, despite playing in a small market in the pre-salary cap era. Hawerchuk was quietly one of the league's best players out-shadowed by Gretzky and Lemieux. Even after leaving the Jets, he only went past second round was a run to the final with the 1997 Flyers.

Worst: Dean Kennedy

Dean Kennedy played over 700 games as a solid defensive defensemen, but was pretty forgettable considering he played so long. The Jets were struggling mightily when he was offered the role of captain until Keith Tkachuk replaced him after one season. Whether it was a no-name like Kennedy or a star like Tkachuk, neither was good enough to keep the team in Winnipeg, as they left for Phoenix in 1996.

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Every NHL Team's Best And Worst Captain Ever