The National Hockey season is coming very quickly, and every team is trying to accomplish a certain goal that they set for themselves going into the season. One player is labeled the captain of the team, and wears the “C” on their jersey. The captain does their best to try and lead a group of guys to accomplish those said goals. Every team has a different motive for their captain to try to accomplish. A big part of being a captain is to make sure that you can get everyone in the locker room all on the same page at all times during the season. Entering this season, 25 of 31 NHL teams have a captain, and some of them are the right choices, and some of them are not the right choices. (Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Nashville, Toronto and Vegas have yet to name one).
There is a great history of some of the best players to play the game were captains of a team during their great careers. Some of the players that will be mentioned are very good choices of captains. Each team has a specific reason behind naming the captain of their team. They want to take their team in a certain direction, and some players can do that while others can’t.
Some players today are born leaders, while other players like to follow the direction of their captain. Being a captain is not for everybody, that is why there is only 31 specific players that have the opportunity to wear the “C” on their jersey. With that being said here are the eight best captains in the NHL today, and the 7 worst captains in the NHL today.
15. Best: Blake Wheeler – Winnipeg Jets
Blake Wheeler is just the kind of player that Winnipeg needs to help them rebuild back into playoff contention. With them having a young superstar in Patrik Laine who looks to be the future of the franchise is a bright spot for Wheeler. Wheeler has played seven seasons in Atlanta/Winnipeg and has one season of being a captain under his belt. He does a great job, because he has the ability to keep the locker room under control.
You did not hear anything about turmoil in the Winnipeg locker room this season, because the captain kept everybody in line/on the same page. Blake Wheeler will look to continue to help Winnipeg improve so that after he decides to retire that they will be left in the best possible scenario for the future of the franchise.
14. Worst – Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis Blues)
The St. Louis Blues gave Alex Pietrangelo the “C” last season, and it is hard to say that he is not a good captain due to the small body of work, but the Blues were very inconsistent in 2016-2017 and that falls upon the captain. Pietrangelo and the Blues beat the Wild 4-1 in the first round, only to lose to Nashville 4-2 in the second round. St. Louis has had a rough couple of seasons due to some of their key players wanting to leave, and the firing of their head coach Ken Hitchcock.
A lot has changed in St. Louis over the past two seasons, and with Pietrangelo getting the “C” it’s making it hard for him to be able to help the team out. Look for Pietrangelo to get better after a couple of seasons of being the captain, but for now is labeled as one of the worst captains.
13. Best: Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks
Ryan Getzlaf has been the captain of the Anaheim Ducks since the 2010-11 season, and the Ducks have been one of the better teams in the National Hockey League since that time. In the regular season it is rare to see Anaheim not have around 40-45 wins per season, and Getzlaf does a great job of keeping the Ducks on the same page at all times.
The Ducks have consistently played well with Getzlaf as their captain. Especially with the talent that they have year in and year out. Anaheim has been playing so well until the postseason hits then they can’t seem to get the job done since Getzlaf has been the captain. Look for Getzlaf to climb more up the list, if the Ducks can get another Stanley Cup Final appearance.
12. Worst: Henrik Zetterberg – Detroit Red Wings
Henrik Zetterberg has been the captain since the 2012-13 season, and Detroit has not been the contender that they have been since 1986-87. Detroit could consistently compete when they were in the Western Conference, then they shifted over to the Eastern Conference and has not been the same team. Zetterberg has not had the same amount of talent as the Red Wings did when they had Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman and company on the team.
Another thing is that the Eastern Conference has been a lot stronger than the Western Conference since the Red Wings moved over to the East, but that is no excuse. Zetterberg is a great player don’t get me wrong, but he has not lead the way that Detroit thought he would. Look for Zetterberg to potentially change over to a good captain, but Detroit has to get out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs before that happens.
11. Best: Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux has been the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers since the 2012-13 season, and I know that Philadelphia has not produced the way that the Flyers organization would have liked, but Giroux has been a good leader for the Flyers. Philadelphia has not had trouble in the locker room during the Claude Giroux era as captain. Giroux is a great all-around player that has the potential to lead the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Final.
If the Flyers can get a solid goaltender then they truly can contend in the Eastern Conference. With Giroux leading the charge the Flyers have a bright future ahead of them, but they need to play consistently on the ice. Also they need a goaltender who can help take a load of their offense to score so many goals to win the game.
10. Worst: Max Pacioretty – Montreal Canadiens
Max Pacioretty has been the captain of the Montreal Canadiens since the 2015-16 season, and many Montreal fans want the “C” off of his jersey. The Canadiens missed the playoffs in his first season of his captaincy, and lost in the first round in his second season. The Canadiens have struggled in the playoffs in recent memory, and Max Pacioretty is getting the blame for it due to the Habs having locker room issues in his first season and him failing to register a goal in this year’s playoffs.
As the captain he should be leading his team in the right direction, when in reality he doesn’t seem to be the driving force of the team. They have one of the best if not the best goaltenders on the planet in Carey Price, but they can’t get it done in the postseason. With an experienced former captain in Shea Weber on the team, you wonder if the Habs will eventually strip Pacioretty of the C and hand it to Weber.
9. Best: Mark Giordano – Calgary Flames
Mark Giordano became the captain of the Calgary Flames during the 2013-2014 season. Giordano is a great leader on the ice, and helps the younger players develop the way that the Flames organization would like for their young talent to be. The 33 year old defenseman is a huge reason why Calgary is where they are today. The Flames can easily be a playoff team year in and year out when healthy.
If they can get a good goaltender to build around the Flames will be great for years to come. With Giordano leading the way guys like Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and company can develop and become elite talents. Look to hear more and more of the Calgary Flames as the years go by, but it is the work that Giordano is doing on and off the ice that will make them contend.
8. Worst: Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara became the captain of the Boston Bruins during the 2006-07 season and is the longest active captain in the National Hockey League today. Yes, the Bruins won a Stanley Cup with him as a captain, but over the past few seasons there have been some problems in the locker room. The Bruins have lost great talents like Tyler Seguin, and others due to locker room issues. Not having a good locker room can cause some serious chaos for the team.
Another thing is with Chara on his very very last legs, there are others that would like to see another player wear the “C” for the Bruins. Looking forward Chara should be done after next year, and that their new captain will a much more effective leader than Chara at this stage.
7. Best: Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin became the captain of the Washington Capitals during the 2009-10 season. Ovechkin has led the Washington Capitals to the postseason in every season, but one during his tenure as captain. Ovechkin is one of the top five players in the league today, and is very effective on the ice. His supremely gifted slap shot makes him a threat anywhere he is.
He keeps the Capitals in place as they continue to have success year after year in the regular season. Ovechkin is very deserving of the “C” as he continues to help Washington, but people are starting to call him the best player of all-time not to win a Stanley Cup. He has to do what he can to bounce back, and then he can go down with some of the huge greats to ever lace up the skates.
6. Worst: Gabriel Landeskog – Colorado Avalanche
Gabriel Landeskog became the captain of the Colorado Avalanche during the 2012-13 season and since Landeskog became captain the Avalanche have only made the playoffs one time. Gabriel Landeskog is still only 24 years old so we can’t really get all on his case, but if your team does not perform while you are the captain then some of the blame will be put on your shoulders. Now a young captain is usually a sign of a rebuilding process, but in this situation, Landeskog has been the captain since he was 20 years old.
He has had a lot of pressure on his shoulders and it has been tough for him to get his team where the Avalanche would like to be. If Landeskog could progress into a better leader on the ice, then he could potentially find himself on the other side of this list.
5. Best: Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid became the captain of the Edmonton Oilers during the 2016-17 season, and in that one year he helped what nobody else thought he could do. McDavid led the Oilers to a playoff berth for the first time since they lost in the Stanley Cup Final in 2005-06. He not only did that, but he led the National Hockey League in points, and won not only the Art Ross Trophy, but the Hart Memorial Trophy as well.
McDavid has a very very bright future ahead of him, and the Oilers have him for what seems like will be the remainder of his career. He is only 20 years old at the moment, and already is one of the top three players in the league today. The future is bright in Edmonton and with McDavid leading the way a Stanley Cup can very well come to Edmonton sooner rather than later.
4. Worst: Andy Greene – New Jersey Devils
Andy Greene became the captain of the New Jersey Devils during the 2015-16 season, and the times in New Jersey have not been the best during his tenure as captain. Now there are people who say there are better players on the Devils that would be better fit to be captain rather than Andy Greene. Well that might be so, but at the end of the day the Devils organization has trust in Andy Greene and that is who they would like to be the captain of their hockey team.
With Greene not being a big time factor on the scoreboard, he is a factor on the ice, as he is a great defenseman in the defensive zone. Looking forward the Devils can be better than what they have been during Greene’s tenure, but they need to look in a different direction after this season if there is no improvements.
3. Best: Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby has been the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins since the 2007-08 season, and the Penguins have been to the playoffs every year during Crosby’s tenure as captain. Crosby has led the Penguins to four Stanley Cup Final appearances, and won three out of four. Crosby is arguably the best player in the NHL, and is going down as one of the best players to play the game.
With the Penguins being the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, it is safe to say that Crosby’s legacy is already cemented. Crosby has a ridiculous work ethic and ensures the Penguins are ready for every game. He elevates his game when it matters most and helps Pittsburgh remain a contender for the Stanley Cup every single year.
2. Worst: Derek MacKenzie – Florida Panthers
Derek MacKenzie became the captain of the Florida Panthers during the 2016-17 season and it was a horrible move by the Florida Panthers. Having a fourth line forward be the leader of your team just does not make sense to me. There are so many better candidates to be the captain of the Florida Panthers than MacKenzie. MacKenzie has not accomplished anything relevant in his career to be considered to call himself the captain of any NHL franchise.
Florida missed the playoffs last season after making the playoffs the year before. Not saying that it has anything to do with MacKenzie because the Panthers were hurt during the season, but the coincidence makes it hard not to completely ignore it. Looking forward, one of the younger talents like Aaron Ekblad should be the captain of the Panthers, not this fourth line player.
1. Best: Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews has been the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks since the 2008-09 season, and has helped the Blackhawks make the playoffs every year during his tenure as captain. He also helped Chicago win three Stanley Cup Titles in five years. Toews is only 29 years old and has already accomplished a lot during his time in the NHL. He has been the captain for the majority of his career, and first got the “C” when he was 20 years old.
Now like I said earlier it is tough for young players to lead teams, but Toews is one case that shows that he overcame every obstacle and helped Chicago win three Stanley Cup championships. Looking forward, Toews still has plenty of years left, and he can even add more and more to an already impressive track record.
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