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Captain Kangaroo?

As you’ve probably heard by now, François Gagnon of La Presse exclusively broke the story late last week that Brian Gionta was to be named the 28th captain of the Montreal Canadiens. While I don’t doubt the veritability of the news there is still no official announcement from the Habs, and they insist a decision still has yet to be made. If it is Gionta, it will be the safe choice, the expected choice and a good choice. A quiet leader who excels in big game situations, Gionta is respected by his teammates and willing to take the team on his back. That said, such a decision will be a disappointment to some who hoped that veteran rearguard Andrei Markov would get the nod, given his tenure with the Canadiens and his own ability to lead through on ice performance.

As you’ve probably heard by now, François Gagnon of La Presse exclusively broke the story late last week that Brian Gionta was to be named the 28th captain of the Montreal Canadiens. While I don’t doubt the veritability of the news there is still no official announcement from the Habs, and they insist a decision still has yet to be made. If it is Gionta, it will be the safe choice, the expected choice and a good choice. A quiet leader who excels in big game situations, Gionta is respected by his teammates and willing to take the team on his back. That said, such a decision will be a disappointment to some who hoped that veteran rearguard Andrei Markov would get the nod, given his tenure with the Canadiens and his own ability to lead through on ice performance.

Gionta, Markov, either is a good choice. So is Mike Cammalleri. So is Josh Gorges. All four of these players ooze professionalism and calm under pressure. While we can debate the merits of one over the other until the cows come home, the fact remains that the Canadiens have a great leadership core moving forward. In addition to these four the Canadiens have, amongst others, Hal Gill, Travis Moen and Scott Gomez, all of whom have played for winners (and losers), and in the process have earned the respect of their peers. If Pierre Gauthier can manage to keep most of this core around, Montreal will have a great group to help mentor the Subbans, Prices and Ellers of the organization over the coming years.

The key this year? Look between the pipes

Speaking of Price – and I haven’t for a while, because his contract situation seemed to drag on forever - this coming season is all on him. Sure, Subban could be a Calder candidate, Cammalleri could top 80 points and Andrei Markov could rebound from his knee operation with 55 or 60 points, but the success – or failure - of the Habs largely rests on the shoulders of the still young British Columbia native. Many people would probably like to see Price fail, given his cocksure attitude and wayward behaviour over the past couple of seasons, but I genuinely believe he has the talent to take the team on his back this year.

Carey Price has always had the talent, that’s undebatable. What has been questionable up to this point has been his approach, preparation, and perhaps most importantly his ability to control emotion. If Price has matured, and after backing up Halak and being part of a winning team in the playoffs I think he has, then the Canadiens could be for real this season.

And wouldn’t that be a nice addendum after last spring’s surprising performance?

Camping in Brossard

I will be monitoring the events at training camp in the coming couple of weeks and blogging when the news calls for it. The interesting question coming in is whether or not a young up and comer, such as Ben Maxwell or Ryan White, will be able to give a regular a run for their job. Jobs in jeopardy? There aren’t many, but Mathieu Darche and Ryan O’Byrne could find themselves without a spot come early October. At the very least, this should create some excitement as training camp progresses.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: andrei+markov, brian+gionta, captaincy, carey+price, mathieu+darche, ryan+o'byrne

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

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.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com