There isn't a sport where the player who wears the "C" is more important than in hockey. The captain is not always the best player, but the player who embodies the culture of the sport. The captain is relevant "in the room," on the ice, and to the fans. For many players, the "C" has been a burden and weight, and yet others have carried the badge of honor and become legends.
"In the room," captains like Chris Pronger have kicked over trashcans, broken sticks, and called out teammates. They can be vocal, controversial, and demand respect by setting the tone before a game. Other captains, like Steve Yzerman, were stoic and used a glance or carried themselves in a way where their bodies send the message. Either way can work, but they must be able to prepare their teammates, gain and hold their respect, and lead on the ice too.
When the puck drops, captains have to relay messages to their team, their opponent, the coach, and the officials. They are counted on by fans to take charge of the team, the game, and represent the fans and the city. It's often said that "as the captain goes, the team goes," and a captain's effort must be fearless, unrelenting, and clutch. They must have that mystical will to win.
After the game, the captain's job continues. He or she must be steady, focused, and deal with the media and fans. Everyone looks to them for answers, asks them the questions, and they're often judged on how they do their job. It is their team, and they're responsible for extending winning streaks and breaking losing streaks. They are always scrutinized and criticized, but when their team wins they are immortalized.
16 Current Captain - Brian Gionta
It's time the Sabres slice off the "C" and transfer it. Aside by being born in Rochester, Gionta has no significant time, stats, or relationship with the Sabres. His best years were over seven years ago with the Devils and Canadiens. With the Devils, he did win a cup in 2002 and had a career year with 48 goals in 2005-6. Though he buzzed around the ice in every situation and was a complete player, his career stats are underwhelming and he was never "that guy." Furthermore, he has never been a clutch playoff performer when the captain is needed most.
15 New Captain - Jack Eichel
14 Current Captain - Zdeno Chara
13 New Captain - Brad Marchand
12 Current Captain - Shane Doan
11 New Captain - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
The dominant Swedish defenseman is already the Alternate Captain, so it's probably just a matter of time, but it needs to happen if Arizona is ever going to take the next step. He's an offensive wizard who dominates the power play, can kill penalties, is always on the ice at critical times, and doesn't shy away when the game gets nasty. He's extremely competitive, and young enough that the Arizona youth movement will see and learn from his intensity. If given the chance to be captain, the young pups will follow him.
10 Current Captain - Anze Kopitar
9 New Captain - Drew Doughty
8 Current Captain - Andy Greene
The 34-year-old undrafted and undersized defenseman has many of the qualities of an... assistant captain. The defensive defenseman plays in all situations, and he is a quiet leader and team player who is respected and admired in the room. But he's no Scott Stevens, and his lack of game changing skills is apparent. He's never scored more than 6 goals in a season and in 24 playoff games during the 2011-12 season, he scored just 1, count 'em, 1, assist.
7 New Captain - Adam Henrique
6 Current Captain - Henrik Sedin
5 New Captain - Brandon Sutter
4 Current Captain - Ryan McDonagh
3 New Captain - Mats Zuccarello
2 Current Captain - Steven Stamkos
1 New Captain - Victor Hedman
Sometimes a team's best player should be their captain, sometimes a player gets drafted and turns out to be more complete than imagined, and that's the case in Tampa. Hedman, the 2nd overall pick in 2009, may already be the 3rd best offensive defenseman (behind Karlsson and Burns) and the 3rd best defensive defenseman (behind Keith and Doughty). Not only that, but he has a bit of a mean streak and may one day be compared to Nicklas Lidström. He's just a beast on the ice, plays on the power play, shorthanded, and extended minutes in overtime. He certainly didn't give Tampa a hometown discount in his new contract, but in his case, it seems more like he knows what he will bring, wants to earn his way, and won't be satisfied unless Tampa wins the cup.
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