Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Da lil Guy on 09/13/13 at 05:15 AM ET
I'd like to introduce you to our newest KK blogger, Da lil Guy.
I am sure the name sounds familar to some of you, he is active in the comment sections throughout the KK blogs and has been a member for over 3 years.
His team is the Ottawa Senators but will be blogging on different NHL topics too. -Paul
Ever since the Ottawa Senators captaincy became vacant (y'know, when whatshisname left to play somewhere else), the $5 million dollar question in Ottawa has been who will wear the 'C' going forward. In fact - $5 million was the amount Sens defenceman Mark Methot was offered by the media to reveal his thoughts on the subject after day 2 of the Sens training camp, but he still declined politely when they couldn't show him the money upfront.
We do know a few things, and the first is that the Senators next Captain will be chosen by the coaching staff and not by a player vote. This is a departure from the procedure that elected the last captain (wait...it'll come to me), but of course we all know how that turned out.
The second thing is that it will not be 2011-12 Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Despite the current trend towards younger NHL captains, Coach Paul MacLean dismissed the possibility on day 1 of training camp. The Paulrus said he would look to the team's leadership group – which includes Goaltender Craig Anderson and the three longest serving members of the Team – Chris Neil, Chris Phillips and Jason Spezza.
While Methot wouldn't reveal who his pick would be – he did narrow it down a little further and reveal that the choice comes down to Phillips and Spezza; which probably isn't a huge surprise since they were already the team's alternates.
To me Phillips has a strong case. He's a former Senators first overall draft pick who has never played for another NHL team. Affectionately known as the 'Big Rig', he's got seniority over everyone on the Sens roster, and is only 105 games shy of holding the all time record for number of games played for the team (currently held by some other guy whose name escapes me at the moment). At 35, he is also the oldest player on the young Sens team. He also boasts a strong international record that includes 2 world junior gold medals and firm roots in Ottawa as well, having recently opened the 'Big Rig Brew Pub' in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean.
On the other hand, Phillips unflashy game and soft spoken nature may mean he's not the right man to wear the captain's C. He's always been the type of defence first player who is at his best when you don't even notice he's there (when you do notice him, it's not always for good things) – and with the rise of players like Karlsson and the addition Methot and Jared Cowen, he's become a much less important part of the Sens defence in recent years. In the last year of his contract, there's some question of whether the Sens will want to bring him back after this season. The fact that he's the last remaining Senator represented by J.P. Barry (who also represents another guy that slips my mind, even though I feel like it's important) probably doesn't bode well for him either.
The leading candidate seems to be Spezza. He's the third oldest and third longest serving Senator (behind Neil) and has long been the lynchpin of the Senators' offence with his high risk, high reward game and ability to make flashy plays. A second overall pick (acquired as part of the Alexei Yashin deal), he's also got the most experience with the spotlight – having been 'discovered' as a baby and worked as a child model for such brands as K-mart and Woolco.
The knock on Spezza, though, is that he never seems to have gotten over his childish side. While his teammates call him 'Spez' (imaginative, these hockey players) he's perhaps better known by his other nickname 'Giggles' – for his propensity to giggle uncontrollably during media interviews.
Coming back from an injury plagued lockout year, and fresh off being snubbed by Hockey Canada for a spot in the Olympic team camp, Spezza's got a lot to prove. The Senators will also need to keep him happy, and give him a leadership role on the team – his contract expires in 2 seasons, and it would be disastrous for the Sens if he walked. Particularly if he decided to head down the 401 to his native Toronto.
If the photo above is any indication, the Sens are polishing Spezza up to fill some big shoes in the big role as the shining face of the franchise.
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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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