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Captain Anonymous

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What is a captain?  “A person who is at the head of or in authority over others; chief; leader.”  What is a hockey captain?  “A locker room leader, motivator; a medium between players and upper management; a primary representative of the team both on and off the ice.”

It is a unique situation this off-season that all three New York City metro area teams will be naming a new captain for the upcoming 2011-2012 season.  The New York Rangers have the most candidates and are probably in the best situation with the most quality choices to choose from.  So, we will start with the Rangers and then look at the Devils, who have both the easiest and hardest choices of the three, and finally we will look at the New York Islanders who have the youngest crop of candidates with the most potential. 

 

NYR Candidates:
1) Brad Richards
Why it might be Richards:  The newly acquired Richards has won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay playing under John Tortorella.  Richards knows Tortorella like no other player and they work great together.
Why it might not be Richards:  This will be Richards’ first season on Broadway and there are other candidates who have been with the Rangers a lot longer and who have played and gelled with the rest of the team over the last few seasons.  If the “C” is given to Richards, it might create a bit of hostility in the locker room.

2) Ryan Callahan
Why it might be Callahan:  Callahan is a huge fan favorite and embodies what a captain is.  He is hard nosed, smart, talented, and plays the game the right way.  Callahan gives 110% every shift.  It seems like Callahan is the presumed successor to Drury in the eyes of the media and fans.
Why it might not be Callahan:  Only if the team sees Staal as the better choice.

3) Brandon Dubinsky
Why it might be Dubinsky:  Like Callahan, Dubinsky is a huge fan favorite, just signed a new contract, and is committed to the NYR long-term.
Why it might not be Dubinsky:  See above under Callahan.  Also, nearly taking contract negotiations to arbitration may have burned the bridge a little bit too much for the team to name Duby captain this soon.

4) Marc Staal
Why it might be Staal:  Staal plays the most minutes of any Ranger and will be a stalwart on the blue line for many years to come.  Staal has proven to be a leader and makes everyone better on the ice when he is out there.
Why it might not be Staal:  The only reason it might not be Staal is if the team feels that Callahan or Dubinsky is a better choice.  There is no good reason why Staal should not be named captain of the Blueshirts.

NJD Candidates:
1) Zach Parise
Why it might be Parise:  For starters, there aren’t any candidates on the Devils that even come close to Parise.  Parise is far and away the leader of the Devils both on and off the ice.  I think that if Parise wasn’t injured last season, this discussion would not even be happening.
Why it might not be Parise:  He only signed a one year deal in the off-season and the team might be hesitant to name a player captain if he may be gone after this season.

2) Ilya Kovalchuk
Why it might be Kovalchuk:  Kovalchuk is inked long term in Newark and the Devils hope he can have a Hart Trophy candidate type season.
Why it might not be Kovalchuk:  For the reasons stated above that it has to be Parise.

3) Patrick Elias
Why it might be Elias:  Elias has won multiple Stanley Cups with the Devils and is the longest tenured Devil behind Brodeur.  He has the experience and leadership ability that one looks for in a captain.  Elias is also a former Devils captain.
Why it might not be Elias:  See Kovalchuk.  It doesn’t seem like Elias’ head is in the right place to be a captain and he doesn’t seem like he wants to wear the “C” at this point in his career.

NYI Candidates:
1) John Tavares
Why it might be Tavares:  Tavares is a young, budding superstar who has leadership capabilities and has shown as much on such a young team going back to last year. 
Why it might not be Tavares:  Tavares is still very, very young and I don’t think the team wants to put the pressure on Tavares that naming him captain would entail.  The Isles prefer him to just go out on the ice and play his game and not have to worry about anything else.

2) Kyle Okposo
Why it might be Okposo:  I think Okposo is second on the Isles list behind Streit.  Okposo shows leadership on the ice, in the locker room, and is one of the most consistent players the Islanders put out there.  He has worn the “A” with pride.
Why it might not be Okposo:  The only reason that I see for it not being Okposo is if the Isles decide that Streit is a better option.

3) Mark Streit
Why it might be Streit:  Streit wore the “A” the season before he was injured and would have been one of the “A’s” last season.  Alexei Yashin, Bill Guerin, and Doug Weight are the past three captains for the Islanders-all not wearing the “C” for more than three seasons.  The Islanders want to name a captain who is going to be with the team long-term.
Why it might not be Streit:  Streit is coming off of a season that he missed due to injury, but that shouldn’t stop him from being named captain.

4) Brian Rolston
Why it might be Rolston:  Rolston is a proven leader and has had a very successful career.  He might not be the player that he once was on the ice, but he would make a great captain.  The young players are going to learn a ton from him anyways, so why not give him the “C”?
Why it might not be Rolston:  Rolston is a new arrival and the team has better candidates who have played longer together. 

5) Frans Nielsen-
Why it might be Nielsen:  He may be the most underrated two-way player in the game.  He is clutch.  All the players respect him and he stands up to everyone.
Why it might not be Nielsen:  Only because Streit and Okposo are probably better options.

TII Captain Picks:  NYR-Marc Staal, NJD-Zach Parise, NYI-Mark Streit.

William Morrison
@TheIsleInformer
The Islanders Informer

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Islanders, William Morrison, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brad+richards, brandon+dubinsky, brian+rolston, frans+nielsen, ilya+kovalchuk, john+tavares, kyle+okposo, marc+staal, mark+streit, patrick+elias, ryan+callahan, zach+parise

Comments

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Who are we kidding…knowing the Islanders Trevor Gillies is guaranteed to be their next Captain.

Posted by Geno71 on 08/17/11 at 03:32 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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