Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Captial Leadership


The final part of the month-long talk about captains wraps up today with the Washington Capitals.  Originally part of the 1974 expansion year along with the Kansas City Scouts (See, you learn something new everyday), the Capitals set the bar for futility, with a 8-67-5 record, or 21 points total for the season.  Remember this the next time you think your team stinks because this kind of futility will never be replicated (at least, I hope it isn't).  Aside from that and the dreadful Jaromir Jagr years (2001-2004), the Capitals have actually been near the respectability line, but only once in their franchise have they been to the Stanley Cup Finals (where they were swept by Detroit in 1998).

In the team's history, they have had fifteen captains.  In the first five years of the franchise, they had four captains, which pretty much sums up the team's early years.  In that time, Doug Mohns (1974-75), Bill Clement (1975-76),  Yvon Labre (1976-78), and Guy Charron (1978-79) all wore the C.  Three years of Ryan Walter would follow before his trade to Montreal in the 1982 offseason.  In that trade, the Caps got Rod Langway, who would be named captain upon his arrival.  From 1982 until 1993, Langway would not only establish himself as one of the best stay-at-home defensemen in the league, he would also wear the C.  He was cut in 1993, giving way to Kevin Hatcher for a season.  Hatcher's trade to Dallas following the season opened the door to agitator extraordinare Dale Hunter, who would in his captaincy from 1994 until 1999, get under the opponents' skin and set an example for teammates to follow.  A late season trade to Colorado ended his time in Washington as captain in 1999, and Adam Oates would inherit the C the following season.  He would wear the C for two seasons before the 2001-02 season would have Steve Konowalchuk and Brendan Witt share the captain duties.  Konowalchuk would take sole possession of the C the following season, and would be captain until an October 2003 trade to Colorado.  For the rest of the season, the Caps would go without a captain.  After the lockout, Jeff Halpern would be named captain, but he would be captain for that season only.  The 2006 offseason would see Chris Clark inherit the captain's role until his midseason trade in 2009-10 to Columbus.  That trade would see Alexander Ovechkin, the face of the current Capitals, be named captain.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Captain of the Raging C's


One of two franchises to begin play in 1970 (along with the Buffalo Sabres), the Vancouver Canucks have had an interesting history, to say the least.  In their history, they have had thirteen captains, including one goaltender, and the number of captains in team history is almost twice the number of jersey makeovers.

The first team captain in the NHL existence (they originally played in the old WHL, not to be confused with the WHL that is part of the Canadian Hockey League) was Orland Kurtenbach, who would go on to wear the C until 1974.  The 1974-75 season saw the team go without a captain before single seasons of Andre Boudrias and Chris Oddleifson followed.  Don Lever would captain the team from 1977 until 1979, and would be succeeded for three seasons by Kevin McCarthy.  The 1982-83 season would see Stan Smyl wear the C and despite the Flying V, he would be captain until 1990.  The 1990-91 season had Dan Quinn, Doug Lidster, and Trevor Linden share captain duties.  Linden would take sole possession of the captain duties in 1991, and would hold the C until the 1997 offseason, when the team signed Mark Messier to be captain.  Messier lasted three seasons as captain before re-signing with the New York Rangers in 2000.  That would open the door for Markus Naslund to be named captain, and Naslund would wear the C until 2008. Goaltender Roberto Luongo would inherit the captain duties, although NHL rules prohibit any goaltender to wear the C on their jersey, and the alternate captains had to handle the normal captain duties during games, all of which is under the Bill Durnan rule.  Luongo would give up the captiancy in 2010, and that role would be handed over to the reigning Hart Trophy winner Henrik Sedin.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

O Canada


One of the original teams when the NHL formed in 1917, the Toronto franchise was formed in an effort to spite the owner of the Toronto Blueshirts of the NHA.  They operated without a nickname for the first year of their existence before becoming the Arenas in 1918.  That would last a year before the new owners renamed them the St. Pats.  In 1927, the team was renamed to the Maple Leafs.  Since 1927, when they became the Maple Leafs, the team has had eighteen captains.


Beginning with the renaming of the franchise on Valentine's Day of 1927, Bert Corbeau would be named captain to finish the season.  Beginning with the following season, Hap Day would take over the captaincy, a role he would hold until 1937.  A year of Charlie Conacher would follow before Red Horner would captain the team for the next two years.  Syl Apps would wear the C from 1940 until 1943, which would be followed by two years of Bob Davidson and a 1945 to 1948 reign of Apps.  Ted Kennedy would captain the team from 1948 until 1955, and would be succeeded by Sid Smith for a season.  Jimmy Thomson would begin the 1956-57 season as captain, but Kennedy would finish the season as captain.  George Armstrong would be named captain in 1957 and would hold the captaincy until 1969, and holds the distinction of being the captain of the Maple Leafs' last Stanley Cup team in 1967.


Dave Keon would be named captain in 1969, and would be in that role until 1975.  Darryl Sittler would be named captain in 1975, and would have two separate stints as captain, his first run being until 1979, and his second run being from 1980 until 1982, with the team running without a captain for the 1979-80 season.  Rick Vaive would be named captain from 1982 until 1986.  The next three seasons would have the Leafs go without a captain, and 1989, Rob Ramage would be named captain.  He would wear the C until 1991, when Wendel Clark would be named captain.  A popular player in Toronto, he would wear the C until his trade in the 1994 offseason to the Quebec Nordiques that saw Mats Sundin come to Toronto.  Doug Gilmour would be named captain in the wake of the trade, and would hold the role until 1997.  The aforementioned Mats Sundin would be named captain in 1997, and would wear the C until the conclusion of the 2007-08 season.  Two seasons without a captain followed before Dion Phaneuf would be named captain in 2010.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lightning Strike


Along with the Ottawa Senators, the Tampa Bay Lightning entered the league in 1992.  Unlike the Senators, the Lightning were playing closer to borderline playoff contender status in their early days.  However, after their first playoff appearance in 1996, the Lightning went downhill, largely due to poor decisions from the front office.  The mid-2000's saw the team regain some respectability, winning a Stanley Cup in 2004.  However, more front office squabbles would derail the team in the late 2000's.  Recently, the Lightning cleaned house, and the team is back on the road to respectability.

In the team's history, the Lightning have had eight captains.  For the first three seasons, the Lightning went without a captain.  In 1995, Paul Ysebaert was named the first team captain, holding the captaincy until 1997.  The next four years would mirror the struggles, as the team went with Mikael Renberg (1997-98), Rob Zamuner (1998-99), Chris Gratton (1999), Bill Houlder (1999-2000), and Vincent Lecavalier (2000-01) all wear the C in that time.  After a year without a captain, Dave Andreychuk would be named captain in 2002.  He would establish the team's locker room tradition of not stepping on the team logo in the middle of the locker room and in the process, lead the team to a Stanley Cup in 2004.  After he retired in 2006, Tim Taylor would take over the captaincy.  Another veteran, there wasn't much of a drop-off in leadership.  Taylor would wear the C until his retirement in 2008.  Lecavalier would be named captain again in 2008, a role he currently holds.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Blood in the Water


In 1991, the San Jose Sharks entered the NHL as an expansion franchise and many of the players on that first team were acquired in a dispersal draft.  Much of the team's existence has been full of playoff runs, many of which never really get off the ground.  In the team's history, they have had eleven recognized captains.

The first two seasons were captained by Doug Wilson, a veteran player who was perfect for an expansion team like San Jose in that he offered some toughness and the ability to lead.  1993 to 1995 had Bob Errey as captain, and like Wilson, Errey was a good fit as captain, in that when the Sharks made the playoffs for the first time in 1994, he offered some playoff experience and a Stanley Cup championship in his time with Pittsburgh.  The 1995-96 season was captained by Jeff Odgers, and the following two seasons were captained by Todd Gill.  In 1998, Owen Nolan would be named captain, and he would bring a power forward mentality for the next five seasons.  The 2003-04 season began with rotating captains, as Mike Ricci, Vincent Damphousse, and Alyn McCauley would begin as captain.  Midway through the season, Patrick Marleau would be named captain.  He would be stripped as captain after the 2008-09 season in which the Sharks were the top seed in the playoffs, yet lost to Anaheim in the first round.  Rob Blake would be named captain for the 2009-10 season and would serve that one season before retiring.  The offseason would see the Sharks name Joe Thornton as captain.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We Got the Blues


Another team that joined the NHL in 1967, when the Expansion Era began, the St. Louis Blues were named after a W.C. Handy song of the same name.  Though the Blues have had a steady amount of success for much of their existence, they will always be linked to the Bobby Orr goal in the 1970 Finals (You know the one: just Google it).  In the team's existence, they have had eighteen different captains.

The early years of the Blues were captained by Al Arbour, who led the team from 1967 until 1970.  The following season, Red Berenson would lead the team, but would be traded to Detroit prior to the conclusion of the season, and Arbour would finish the season as captain.  A season of Jim Roberts as captain followed before Barclay Plager would take over the captaincy, holding it from 1972 until 1976.  However, Plager would not finish the 1975-76 season as captain, as a returning Berenson would finish the season with the C.  A season of Gerry Unger would follow, which were followed by seasons of Berenson and Barry Gibbs.  Brian Sutter would inherit the C in 1979, holding it until 1988.  Sutter is the longest tenured captain in Blues history.  The next four seasons would see single season reigns from Bernie Federko, Rick Meagher, Scott Stevens, and Garth Butcher before Brett Hull would take over the captain duties in 1992.  A very public drama with then-coach Mike Keenan would result in Hull losing the C prior to the 1995-96 season, with Shayne Corson taking over.  Corson would give up the C before the season was done, as the Blues had acquired Wayne Gretzky in February 1996.  When Gretzky left for New York after the season, the Blues went without a captain the following season.  The 1997-98 season began the Chris Pronger captaincy, and Pronger rewarded the Blues with a Hart Trophy performance, winning it in 2000.  He would give up the role in 2003 to Al MacInnis, who is best known for the slapshot from the point that shattered one of the plexiglass panes in a game.  MacInnis would hold the captaincy for a season before retiring.  After the lockout, Dallas Drake would take over the captain duties for two seasons.  Part of the 2007-08 season saw the team go without a captain until February 2008, when Eric Brewer was named captain, a role he still holds to this day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

March of the Penguin


One of the franchises that formed when the NHL decided to expand in 1967, the Pittsburgh Penguins' early years were often unremarkable, as they were overshadowed by cross-state rivals the Philadelphia Flyers, who also entered the league in the same year.  After years of losing, things began to change when the Penguins had the first overall pick in 1984.  If you follow your hockey history, you know the rest of that story, and that will be covered in this piece to some degree.

In the team's history, the Penguins have had twelve captains, with two players having served more than once as captain.  The first captain in team history was Ab McDonald, who would go on to serve that inaugural season as captain.  The following year, the team went without a captain, and would do so until 1973.  Ron Schock would end that streak with his own, serving from 1973 until 1977.  Jean Pronovost would serve for a season before Orest Kindrachuk would take over in 1978, serving until 1981.  The lean years of the Penguins would see Randy Carlyle wear the C from 1981 until 1984.  The 1984 offseason saw some changes, with Mario Lemieux being drafted by the Pens and becoming the team's savior (in more ways than one) and Mike Bullard taking over the captain duties.  Bullard would serve until 1986.  Rosco Ruskowski would handle the captain duties for the 1986-87 season.  The 1987-88 season would see Dan Frawley start as captain, but an injury would have Mario Lemieux  in the first of three stints as captain, take over two months later.  Lemieux's first term as captain saw two Stanley Cups, and a courageous battle with Hodgkin's Disease.  He sat out the lockout shortened season of 1994-95, and as a result, the C was handed over to Ron Francis, who himself was serving the first of two stints as Pens captain.  Lemieux's return to the lineup in 1995-96 meant a return to captaincy, a role he would hold this time until his first retirement in 1997 due to illness.  The 1997-98 season would see Francis return as captain until his trade to Carolina after the season.  Three seasons of Jaromir Jagr would follow until his trade to Washington in the 2001 offseason, but not before he dominated the game like few others in the last thirty years.  Lemieux came out of retirement in December 2000, and would be named captain again after the Jagr trade.  Lemieux would hold the captiancy this time until his retirement in 2006.  The 2006-07 season saw the team go without a captain, and the following season, Sidney Crosby would be named captain, a role he has held since.  Crosby has already won a Stanley Cup and scored the gold medal clinching goal, so who knows what else he has in store.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dangerous Phones

I interrupt this month-long segment dedicated to the captains of the NHL for something I haven't done in a while: a book review.  Today's book is by Stephen King and takes on the premise of cell phones being the end of the world titled Cell.  As most of you know, King is a horror writer who creates atmosphere through natural surroundings and adding a little man-made element to the mix, with the cell phone being the object in this novel.  Like many of his stories, Cell is set in the northeastern part of the United States, so any references to things like the Boston Red Sox or Boston Celtics can be explained in that sense.

The story begins with Clayton Riddell in Boston getting ready to close a deal on his comic book when strange occurrences begin to happen, with many explosions, people going nuts, and the city being in chaos.  This is all in the first segment of the book, which means the inevitable disappointment is being set up for down the road. In all of the mess, Clayton meets Tom and Alice, and all three attempt to find some semblance of sanity.  The travels take them through small towns, and eventually, they meet a boy named Jordan and his head master.  It is there that the group discovers the reason for things happening as they are.  The question is how they can reverse, or even kill off the thing that is plaguing the people in the Northeast...and possibly the world.

The beginning of the story begins with a huge explosion (actually, many of them) and pretty much drags to a crawl midway through.  The ending ends with some kind of explosion, but as a whole, it isn't enough to really save Cell from being one long tedious read.  Long time Stephen King fans will probably enjoy this one, but those seeking something more will want to look elsewhere.

Jetting to the Head of the Pack


The Phoenix Coyotes broke into the league as the Winnipeg Jets in the 1979-80 season as one of four teams to have been taken from the WHA.  The Jets would later move to Phoenix in 1996, where to this date, they have yet to advance past the first round.  In their history, they have had thirteen captains.

The first team captain in the NHL chapter of their existence was Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who was previously captain in the WHA days, and would only serve one year as the captain in the NHL's Jets.  Single seasons of Morris Lukowich and Dave Christian would follow before Lucien DuBlois would captain the team for two seasons.  1984 until 1989 was Dale Hawerchuk's turn with the C, and as the first superstar of the team, he was to the Jets what Wayne Gretzky was to the Oilers: they let their on-ice talents do the talking.  The 1989-90 season had Hawerchuk share the C with Thomas Steen (a Jets lifer) and Randy Carlyle.  After Hawerchuk was traded to Buffalo at the conclusion of the season, Steen and Carlyle would continue to share the C the following season.  Eventually, the captaincy would be handed to Troy Murray, who would hold the C from 1991 until 1993, when he was traded to Chicago before the trade deadline.  Dean Kennedy would finish the 1992-93 season as captain.  Keith Tkachuk would take over in 1993 and would hold the C until 1995, when Kris King would finish the Jets' chapter as captain.  After the move to Phoenix, Tkachuk was reinstated as captain, a role he would hold for the team's first five seasons before a trade to St. Louis in the 2000-01 offseason.  Taking over was another Jet leftover in Teppo Numminen, who was never the best defenseman on the team, but was one of the most dependable.  He would have the C until 2003, when Shane Doan took over.  He currently holds that distinction, as well as the last player on the Coyotes to have played for Winnipeg, doing so in 1995-96.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fleet Captains


One of the first franchises to play in the Expansion Era, the Philadelphia Flyers were named in an effort to identify the team with speed, as the logo attests.  Since the beginning, the team's logo and colors have remained the same and the jerseys have largely maintained a certain status quo about it.  The team's real identity was discovered in its Stanley Cup years in the mid-70's, when the team earned the nickname the "Broad Street Bullies," so called for the style of play they employed.

In the Flyers' history, they have had sixteen captains, all of which have given off the identity that the Flyers have been known for, with their own unique abilities.  The team's first captain was Lou Angotti, who only served the first year as captain.  He was replaced by Ed Van Impe, who would go on to serve as captain until 1973, when Bobby Clarke would take over.  The quintessential Flyer, Clarke would go on to wear the C in the Flyers' heyday and would be captain until 1979, when the role of Assistant Coach was added to his title and he had to give up the captaincy.  He would also later serve as the team GM in the 1990's and is still working in the Flyers' front office as Senior Vice President.  Mel Bridgman would replace Clarke in 1979 and would serve until 1981.  A year of Bill Barber would follow before Clarke would wear the C again from 1982 until 1984.  1984 until 1989 was the captaincy of Dave Poulin, which was followed by two years of Ron Sutter and a year of Rick Tocchet before the team went without a captain in the 1992-93 season.  The 1993-94 season had Kevin Dineen serve as captain before Eric Lindros would take over following that season.  His time as captain would be known as much for his dominance of the game on the ice as it would the bickering with the front office off it.  He was stripped of the C in 2000 and in a rather public manner, the C was sewn onto the jersey of Eric Desjardins, who would wear it for a year.  Keith Primeau would assume captain duties from 2001 until a concussion ended his career in 2006, and the C was given to Derian Hatcher to finish the 2005-06 season.  Peter Forsberg (who was included in the Lindros trade of 1992) and Jason Smith would serve a season each before Mike Richards would be named captain in 2008, signifying the team's commitment to youth.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Senators and Romans


The most recent Canadian entry into the NHL, the Ottawa Senators began play in 1992, but were not the first team named the Senators to play in Ottawa, as a franchise under the same name began play in the 1930's, but folded a year after moving to St. Louis.  The early years of the current incarnation were a disaster, to say the least, as the team finished in the basement for the first four years of their existence.  The captaincy is a good reflection on the team's successes and failures.

The inaugural year of 1992-93 had Laurie Boschman as the team captain.  The following year, three different players served as the captain: Mark Lamb, Brad Shaw, and Gord Dineen.  The lockout shortened season had the team go without a captain before Randy Cunneyworth was named captain.  He is only one of two players to have served more than one season as the Senators' captain, doing so from 1995 until 1998.  The 1998-99 season had Alexei Yashin wear the C, but much like the 1995-96 season, a contract dispute would derail his chance at a second season with the C and eventually, he would be traded to the New York Islanders in 2001.  In his place as captain is the active longest serving captain in the NHL Daniel Alfredsson, who started wearing the C in 1999.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Broadway Leaders


Originally an expansion franchise in 1926, the New York Rangers began play in the NHL to compete with the New York Americans, who also played in that time.  Obviously, the Rangers are still operating and the Americans are ancient history, and in their history, have had twenty-five captains.


The early years of the Rangers were captained by Bill Cook, who would go on to lead the team from 1926 until 1937.  Art Coulter would take over the C in 1937 and would hold that distinction until 1942.  Coulter would also be the captain of the last Rangers team to win the Stanley Cup until 1994.  Ott Heller would be the captain in 1942 and would hold it until 1945.


After the War, Neil Colville would have the C in 1945 and would hold it until halfway through the 1948-49 season.  The next two seasons would see Buddy O'Connor and Frank Eddolls wear the C for a season each before Allan Stanley would take the captain duties for the next two seasons.  Two more captains serving two seasons each would follow in Don Raleigh (1953-55) and Harry Howell (1955-57).  George Sullivan would take over in 1957, captaining the team until 1961.  Andy Bathgate would captain the team for the next three years before a season of Camille Henry would follow.  Bob Nevin would take over the captain duties in 1965 and have it until 1971, which by then, saw new teams enter the league.


The first Expansion era was not very kind to the Rangers, as they experienced some lean years.  After Nevin vacated the C, Vic Hadfield would take the C in 1971 and hold it until 1974.  A year of Brad Park would follow before a Phil Esposito in the twilight years reign would last from 1975 until 1978.  Two seasons of Dave Maloney and a season of Walt Tkaczuk would follow after that before Barry Beck would see the captain duties through from 1981 until 1986.  A year of Ron Greschner followed before Kelly Kisio took over in 1987 until the conlcusion of the 1990-91 season, when he was taken by the San Jose Sharks in the Dispersal Draft.


1991 was a year of change, as Mark Messier stepped into the captain's role.  That would bear fruit in 1994, when Messier led the team to the Stanley Cup and in the process, earned himself a spot in Rangers lore.  His free agent signing to Vancouver in 1997 opened the door for Brian Leetch, who would have the captain duties until 2000, when Messier returned to the team.  Messier would go on to captain the team until his retirement at the conclusion of the 2003-04 season.  The first season after the lockout saw the team go without a captain, though, and the following season, a resurgent Jaromir Jagr would be named captain.  He would wear the C for two seasons before signing with a team in the KHL.  Chris Drury was signed from Buffalo in 2007, and would be named captain in 2008, a role he holds to this day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Island of Leaders


In the beginning, the New York Islanders seemed to be the better team from New York, with the apex being in the early 80's, when they won four straight Stanley Cups.  However, the 90's, specifically 1994, was a turning point for the team, as they literally staked claim to the basement in the standings for years.  New ownership in 2002 showed the team had promise of being a contender.  That dream was dashed in 2008, when the team started to haemmorage money once more.  That isn't to say the team has been lacking for captains in their history.  Far from it, actually, as the Islanders have had twelve captains in thirty-nine years as a franchise.

The first five years of the franchise were captained by Ed Westfall.  Tough guy Clark Gillies would follow and be captain from 1977 to 1979.  The Islanders' glory years were led by Denis Potvin, who would have the C from 1979 until 1987.  Brent Sutter, one of the Sutter Brothers from Viking, AB, would have the captain's role from 1987 until 1991.  1991 would mark the beginning of the Patrick Flatley era, and it would be until 1996 when he would be captain.  In that time, the Islanders' descent and the infamous "Fish Sticks" jersey were evident.  The next five seasons would show some instability, with no captain in 1996-97, Bryan McCabe (1997-98), Trevor Linden (1998-99), and Kenny Jonsson (1999-2000), with a no captain to end that run in the 2000-01 season.  Eventually, the stability returned, sort of, with Michael Peca being named captain from 2001 until 2004.  Post-lockout saw Peca moved to Edmonton prior to the 2005-06 season and Alexei Yashin, the poster boy for overpaid players, promoted to captain.  He would be captain until 2007, when the Islanders bought out his contract, for which they are still on the books.  Two years of Bill Guerin would follow until his trade to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline in 2009.  Doug Weight is the current captain, which is fitting, since the Islanders are in the midst of a youth movement.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Scouting the Rockies for Devils


Long before the debacle that is becoming the Ilya Kovalchuk contract and before the Devils won three Stanley Cups from 1995 until 2003, the New Jersey Devils previously played in two different stops: in Kansas City as the Scouts and in Colorado as the Rockies (not to be confused for the baseball team of the same name).  The team we know now as the Devils began play in 1974, and were quite terrible, both on the ice and in the box office.  The number of captains in team history is sixteen, with many of those coming in the years prior to New Jersey.


The franchise's first captain was Simon Nolet, a journeyman who was nearing the end of his career.  From the beginning until his trade to Pittsburgh in 1976, he was the team captain.  After his trade, Guy Charron would finish the season as captain.  After the season, the team moved to Colorado and Nolet was re-acquired to be the first captain at the Colorado stop.  He would be captain for that season before retiring.  The longest tenured captain in the Colorado era was Wilf Paiement, who held the role from 1977 until 1979.  The next three seasons were a mess, as the team still couldn't find success, and had five captains in that time.  Gary Croteau would hold the C in the beginning of the 1979-80 season.  However, he would not finish the season as captain, giving way to Mike Christie.  The following season, Rene Robert would try his hand as captain, but would not finish the season as captain, giving way to Lanny McDonald.  The captain in the team's final season in Colorado was Rob Ramage.


The Devils moved to New Jersey in 1982 and Don Lever was named the first captain in that stop.  He would have the captaincy from 1982 until 1984.  Mel Bridgman would take over, holding the role from 1984 until 1987.  The consolation prize from the 1984 draft, otherwise known as Kirk Muller, would hold the captaincy from 1987 until 1991, in which the Devils will be known best for the "Have another doughnut" game.  Bruce Driver would hold the captaincy after Muller's trade to Montreal in the 1991 offseason, wearing the C for a season.  The 1992 season began the Scott Stevens captaincy, and he would not let go of the C until 2004, when injuries ultimately forced him to relinquish the C to Scott Niedermayer, who would finish as captain in 2004.  Before that happened, Stevens became the second most important Devil in history (after Martin Brodeur), establishing himself as a hard hitter who made many nights for offensive players miserable.  The first season after the lockout saw the team go without a captain.  The 2006-07 season saw a season of Patrik Elias as captain before current captain Jamie Langenbrunner took over after the season.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Roar of Leadership


The oldest of the four most recent entries into the NHL, the Nashville Predators began play in 1998 and are one of the most stable franchises when it comes to front office.  The ownership?  Well, that's another story for another day.  In their history, the Predators have had five captains, which is more telling of the style of play the Predators have employed in their time.

The early years of the team were led by Tom Fitzgerald, who brought expansion competitivness to the team from his days as an original Florida Panther.  In his time as captain from 1998 to 2002, the Fitzgerald-led teams were competitive and played hard every night.  That tradition continued with Greg Johnson, who captained the team from 2002 until 2006, and brought a Stanley Cup championship pedigree with him from his Detroit Red Wing days.  A year of Kimmo Timonen followed, and in that season, the Preds briefly relied on star power to try and advance in the playoffs.  It ultimately failed, and Timonen was traded to Philadelphia due to financial reasons (this will be a recurring theme with the Preds in their entire existence).  Jason Arnott followed, and he brought back the toughness to the team (their usual level, anyway, which is very high).  He would be captain until an offseason trade a few months ago, in which he would return to New Jersey.  Shea Weber was named the fifth captain in team history soon after.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ancient History of Leaders


The oldest franchise in the NHL today, the Canadiens also have the most championships of any team in hockey history.  They are the only team to have existed prior to the formation of the NHL, and since this blog is covering only the NHL part of the captaincy history, the Canadiens' history will begin with the 1917-18 season, the year the NHL was formed, which by Wikipedia count, is twenty-five different players having the C.


The first captain in the Canadiens' maiden voyage in the league was Newsy Lalonde, who had been captain on two previous occasions prior to the league formation and was captain the year before, as well, in the 1916-17 season.  He would go on to hold the captaincy until 1922.  Sprague Cleghorn would follow for three seasons and Billy Coutu for one season before Sylvio Mantha took the role from 1926 through 1932.  George Hainsworth would assume captain duties for a year before Mantha would re-assume duties from 1933 through 1936.  Babe Siebert followed for three years before handing duties over to Walter Buswell for a year.  From 1940 until 1948, three years after World War II, Toe Blake handled the captain duties.


Blake relinquished the role in January 1948, and for the rest of the season, Bill Durnan would hold that role. That would be significant because he inspired the Durnan Rule, which meant goalies could not wear the C on the sweater, as it would be demonstrated by the Canucks' Roberto Luongo sixty years later.  Following that experiment, Emile Bouchard would take over as captain, holding the role from 1948 until 1956.  The Rocket Maurice Richard, who inspired a children's story in The Hockey Sweater (which is a great read to children, and I highly recommend it) and scored quite a few goals in his time.  He would wear the C from 1956 until 1960, giving way to Doug Harvey for a year.  The Gentleman Jean Beliveau would take over in 1961, and for the next ten years, would be the face of the franchise for all the right reasons.  Until his retirement in 1971, he brought a class and talent level that made Canadiens one of the most respectable franchises in the league.


From 1971 to 1975, the Pocket Rocket Henri Richard would handle the C, and like older brother Maurice, he could score.  He was also a winner, having won more Stanley Cups as a player than any other player in history.  Yvan Cournoyer would have the C on his sweater from 1975 to 1979, and would be followed by Serge Savard for two seasons.  Bob Gainey would have the C from 1981 to 1989, and redefined how a forward could play defense.  A year of co-captains happened in the 1989-90 season, with Guy Carbonneau and Chris Chelios being named to the role.  Carbonneau would take sole possession of the role after Chelios' trade in the 1990 off-season to Chicago.  Carbonneau would hold the role until his trade in the off-season in 1994 to St. Louis.  The lockout shortened season of 1994-95 saw some instability, as Kirk Muller would be captain until his trade to the Islanders prior to the deadline.  Mike Keane would finish the season as captain, and would be captain for the beginning of the 1995-96 season until he was included in the Patrick Roy deal to Colorado.  Pierre Turgeon would finish the season as captain.  Turgeon's trade to St. Louis after the season opened the door to Vincent Damphousse to be named captain, a role he held from 1996 to 1999.  The first European captain of the Canadiens took over in Saku Koivu, and in his time from 1999 until he left for Anaheim in 2009, he provided an inspiration for the team that few others had.  The 2009-10 season saw the team go without a captain, and despite that, the team had its best showing in the playoffs since 1993.  This season, Brian Gionta was named captain of the Canadiens.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Wild Way to Lead


The most successful of the four recent entries into the NHL, the Minnesota Wild make no mistake as to who is number one, as in the number retired in tribute to the fans.  They also have had an interesting take on the captaincy.  In the Jacques Lemaire era, the captaincy was rotated on a monthly basis, and it was only last season that the team decided to go with a permanent captain, which coincided with a change in GM, coach, and star player.  In the inaugural season, the team went with (in order, as all lists will be in this piece) Sean O'Donnell, Jim Dowd, Wes Walz, Brad Bombardir, and Darby Hendrickson as captains.  The following year, Dowd, Filip Kuba, Brad Brown, and Andrew Brunette were the team captains.  2002-03 was the first year they made the playoffs, and arguably the team's most successful season.  Their captaincy had Bombardir, Matt Johnson, Sergei Zholtok, and Bombardir again as captains, with Bombardir serving from February until the end of the Wild's playoff run in his second run that year.  The following year saw Brown, Brunette, Richard Park, Bombardir, Dowd, and Brunette again as captains.

After the lockout, the team went with Alex Henry, Kuba, Willie Mitchell, Brian Rolston, and Walz as captains.  The following season saw Rolston, Keith Carney, Rolston again, and Mark Parrish wearing the C.  2007-08 was the most recent time the Wild made the playoffs, and had Pavol Demitra, Rolston, Parrish, Nick Schultz, Mikko Koivu, and Marian Gaborik wear the C.  The following year was the last year of the rotating captaincy, and saw Koivu, Kim Johnsson, Koivu again, Brunette, and Koivu for a third time wear the captain's C.  One regime change later, Koivu was named the team's first permanent captain in 2009.

Yes, it has been a weird and Wild (no pun intended) trip for the captain's C in Minnesota, but would you expect anything less from a team that plays in a hockey mad state?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

King of Kings (Sorry, Triple H)


One of the first expansion franchises to begin play in 1967, the Kings have been the longest running franchise to have played on the West Coast in the NHL.  In their history, they have had fourteen captains, and despite the relative lack of success in the playoffs, they have actually had a fairly stable history when it comes to captains.  The captain for the team's first two seasons was Bob Wall.  He was followed by (in order) Larry Cahan, Bob Pulford, and Terry Harper, who served two seasons each as captain.  Mike Murphy was named captain in 1975, and held the role until 1981.  Dave Lewis and Terry Ruskowski succeeded him as captain, with each serving as captain for two seasons.  The team lifer Dave Taylor took his turn as captain from 1985 until 1989, when The Great One Wayne Gretzky served as captain.  He would hold the C until his trade to St. Louis in 1996.  In that time, Luc Robitaille would serve as captain in 1992-93 while Gretzky was injured.  From 1996 until his trade to Colorado in 2001, Rob Blake took his turn as captain.  He would later become captain in his second term with the team in the 2007-08 season.  In between, Mattias Norstrom would be captain from 2001 through 2007, when his trade to Dallas would end that tenure.  In that time, Robitaille would serve as captain in 2006 for the final games of his career.  After a year of Blake, Dustin Brown would take over the role, signifying the team's commitment to youth, which is being served right now.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Leaders on Boats


The Florida Panthers joined the NHL in 1993, and early in their existence, it looked like they would have long term success.  Unfortunately, the new decade rolled around and they haven't seen the Playoffs since.  In their history, they have had six captains, and like their overall history, the captain history reflects the team's successes and failures.  From the beginning until 1997, the team captain was Brian Skrudland, who wasn't particularly talented, but his leadership was perfect for a team just breaking into the league.  He was succeeded Scott Mellanby, who along with John Vanbiesbrouck, is the face of the Panthers' successes.  He is most notable for beginning the "Year of the Rat" in the 1995-96 season that saw them reach the Stanley Cup finals.  His trade to St. Louis at the 2000-01 trade deadline coincided with the team's downfall.  The 2001-02 season had co-captains in Paul Laus and Pavel Bure.  The following season, the team went without a captain.  2003 was the beginning of the Olli Jokinen captaincy, and his time as captain was as notable for the offensive numbers as it was the effort that Jokinen put forth on a daily basis, which is to say no one really knew which Jokinen would show up.  He was traded in the offseason to Phoenix in 2008, ending his run as captain.  The 2008-09 season saw the Panthers go without a captain again.  Currently, the C is held by Bryan McCabe, who was named to the role in 2009.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Put on the Hard Hats


The Oilers were one of four teams to come into the NHL from the WHA in 1979, and is the only team that is still in its original location.  Their success in the early years of the NHL existence have intertwined with some lean years in recent years and an underdog mentality when they do make the playoffs.  The team has had thirteen captains in their history, and many of them exemplify the Oilers franchise.  The first two captains in the first two years of the franchise in the NHL are Ron Chipperfield and Blair McDonald, who served a season each.  Lee Fogolin served two years after that, going from 1981 to 1983.  The Great One (Wayne Gretzky) followed, serving as captain from 1983 until his trade to Los Angeles in 1988.  His good friend Mark Messier took over, serving from 1988 until his trade to the Rangers in 1991, earning his reputation as a great leader in the process.  Kevin Lowe, who was another Oiler original as the team's first draft pick in their NHL existence, was captain for a year before his trade to the Rangers.  Craig MacTavish followed for two seasons until his trade to (you guessed it) the Rangers.  He is more notable for being the last player to play without a helmet full time.   The lockout shortened season saw Shayne Corson take over the captain duties before Kelly Buchberger took over from 1995 until 1999, when he was picked in the expansion draft by Atlanta.  Two seasons of Doug Weight followed until his trade to St. Louis in 2001.  The rugged Jason Smith took his turn with the C, wearing it until his trade to Philadelphia in 2007.  Ethan Moreau was next, taking the captain role until being claimed on waivers by Columbus in the 2010 offseason.  Recently, the Oilers named career-long Oiler Shawn Horcoff as the thirteenth captain in team history.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On the Wings of Fate


An Original Six team that began when the NHL was formalized, the Detroit Red Wings have had twenty-nine captains in their history that began when they were originally called the Cougars.  In 1930, the team was renamed the Falcons and gained the Red Wings name in 1932.  The logo as it stands also originated in that time.  In the Cougar years, the captains were Art Duncan (1926-27) and Reg Noble (1927-30).  George Hay and Carson Cooper were captains in the Falcon years for a season each.  The Red Wings era began with three captains in three seasons, with Larry Aurie, Herbie Lewis, and Ebbie Goodfellow serving a year each.  Three years of Doug Young followed before Goodfellow took over again from 1938 through 1942.  Sid Abel and Mud Bruenteau followed for a season each before William Hollett took the captain's C for two years.  Abel took the captain's role again, this time from 1946 through 1952.  From 1952 through 1956, the abrasive Ted Lindsay was captain, ceding the role after 1956 to Red Kelly for two seasons.  Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe took his turn at captain for four seasons, holding it from 1958 through 1962.  Alex Delvecchio followed with the second longest reign as captain, holding the role from 1962 through 1973.  After him was a rotating captain system in the 1973-74 season.  Before he became a goal scoring machine in Los Angeles, Marcel Dionne held the captain's C in the 1974-75 season.  From 1975 through 1977, the team saw three different captains: Danny Grant (1975-77), Terry Harper (1975-76), and Dennis Polonich (1976-77).  1977 through 1982 had the team go through seven different captains, with Dan Maloney getting the C for a season, which was followed by Dennis Hextall for a season.  When Hextall was traded before the end of the 1978-79 season, the team went with co-captains to finish the season in Nick Libett and Paul Woods.  Dale McCourt held the C for a season before the team went back to co-captains the following season in Errol Thompson and Reed Larson.  Larson would gain sole possession of the C in the 1981-82 season.  Four years of Danny Gare followed before Stevie Y (Steve Yzerman) would hold the captain's role for the longest time in franchise history from 1986 through his retirement in 2006.  It wasn't too difficult to see why Yzerman held the C for so long because he was all about team, sacrificing stats later in his career for the team.  2006 saw a new captain in another Red Wing lifer in Nicklas Lidstrom, who like Yzerman, is a perfect fit as Red Wing captain.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Brighest Stars


The franchise known as the Dallas Stars began in Minnesota as the North Stars.  The team moved to Dallas in 1993 and dropped the "North" in their name and in their history in both places, they have had eighteen captains.  The first captain in the team's existence in 1967 was Bob Woytowich.  The next two seasons were followed by Elmer Vasko and Claude Larose, who held the role for a season each.  Ted Harris followed, and was captain from 1970 through 1974, making him the first player in team history to have the captaincy for more than a season.  Bill Goldsworthy took over in 1974, and had the C until 1976.  The next three seasons saw three different captains: Bill Hogaboam, Nick Beverley, and J.P. Parise.  Those three had one season each as captain before Paul Shmyr held it for two seasons from 1979 through 1981.  Tim Young had one year as captain before giving way to the team's second longest tenured captain Craig Hartsburg.  His reign lasted from 1982 through 1989.  In that time, Brian Bellows also held the C in 1984 when Hartsburg was out due to injury.  From 1989 to 1991, Curt Giles had the C, which included a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in 1991.  The last captain in Minnesota was Mark Tinordi, whose reign began in 1991.  He would go on to be the first captain in Dallas, holding that role until a trade to Washington in 1995.  The beginning of the lockout shortened season would see Neal Broten be captain until his trade to eventual Stanley Cup champions New Jersey Devils that same season.  Derian Hatcher was named captain and would hold the captaincy in the team's best years.  Eventually, he would be relieved of the captain duties in 2003, when he signed with Philadelphia in the offseason.  The face of the franchise in Dallas Mike Modano would hold the captain's C from 2003 through 2006, when Brenden Morrow would take over.  Currently, Morrow is the the team captain.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Civil Leadership


The Blue Jackets entered the league in 2000, and gained the team name and colors from both its history in the Civil War (it was a central state in the Union forces) and the state flag, respectively.  They have had five captains in their history, making them relatively stable compared to both the Atlanta Thrashers and Minnesota Wild (who had a rotating captain system until 2009).  The first two seasons were captained by Lyle Odelein, which like many expansion franchises, signaled the team's reliance on veteran talent.  That trend continued in the 2002-03 season, when Ray Whitney was named captain.  The following year, Luke Richardson was named captain and held it through the lockout year of 2005.  Adam Foote followed, holding the role for three seasons before being traded at the trade deadline in the 2007-08 season.  Currently, the captain's C is held by Rick Nash, who has called Columbus home for his entire NHL career and is also the team's best player.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Natural Disaster


The Colorado Avalanche franchise began in Quebec as part of the WHA.  The ex-Nordiques were one of four teams to have been taken in by the NHL and were in Quebec until 1995, when the team moved to Denver and became the Avalanche.  In their history, the Nordiques/Avalanche have had nine captains, and as you will see, one person accounts for most of that time.  The first captain in the team's maiden voyage in the NHL was Marc Tardif, who would go on to hold that distinction from 1979 until 1981.  A brief captain reign by Robbie Ftorek followed, and he was replaced by Andre Dupont for the 1981-82 season.  The following year, the team went without a captain.  The next two seasons were Mario Marois' team to lead.  The second longest reign as captain belongs to Peter Stastny, who was not only a great scorer in his prime, but also captain from 1985 to 1990.  The 1990-91 season saw co-captains, as Steven Finn and Joe Sakic would hold that role.  This would not be the last time Sakic would hold that role, though.  After a year with Mike Hough at the helm, Sakic would regain that role for good in 1992 until the team's last year in Quebec in 1995.  When the team became the Colorado Avalanche, Sakic still held that role as captain, but in that first season, he also became a superstar with his playoff performance.  He had always been a good player, but that year saw him take his game to a new level.  He never looked back, as not only would his play earn him two Stanley Cups and a gold medal in the 2002 Olympic Games, but he would also be the team captain until his retirement in 2009.  In the last 30 years, his reign as captain was the second longest on one team, with Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings being the only player with a longer reign with one team.  Sakic was replaced by another Nordique/Avalanche lifer Adam Foote, who currently holds that role, though he is on the injured list at the time of this writing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hail to the (Blackhawk) Chief


One of the original six team in the NHL, the Blackhawks have had thirty-four captains in their history, with some being big names and others being mere footnotes in history.  So, as to not make this article too long, I will divide this piece into time frames and list players who have been captain in those times.

Pre-World War II years and World War II

The first team captain was Dick Irvin (1926-29), who was followed in consecutive seasons by Duke Dukowski, Ty Arbour, Cy Wentworth, Helge Bostrom, and Charlie Gardner.  After a season of not having a captain, Johnny Gottselig was named captain and held it from 1935-40.  The World War II years saw Earl Siebert (1940-42), Doug Bentley (1942-44 and again in 1949-50), and Clint Smith (1944-45) hold the captaincy.

Post-World War II through the 60's

The latter half of the 40's saw John Mariucci (1945-46 and 1947-48), Red Hamill (1946-47), Gaye Stewart (1948-49), and Bentley wear the C for a season each.  The 1950's were relatively stable, with Jack Stewart (1950-52), Bill Gadsby (1952-54), and Gus Mortson (1954-57) in the role of captain before the team went without a captain in the 1957-58 season.  Ed Litzenberger was captain from 1958 to 1961, when the role went to Pierre Pilote, who from 1961 to 1968, is the team's longest serving captain in history. After Pilote, the team went without a captain for a season before Pat Stapleton was named captain for the 1969-70 season.

70's to 2000

The beginning of the 70's had the Blackhawks go without a captain for the first half of the decade, which ended in the 1975-76 season, when Pit Martin was named captain.  The following year, Martin shared the duties with Stan Mikita and Keith Magnuson.  Magnuson would gain sole possession of the role in 1977 and hold it until 1979, when Terry Ruskowski would be named captain from 1979-82.  Darryl Sutter would be captain from 1982 to 1987, with Bob Murray having a share of the captaincy in the 1985-86 season.  The 1987-88 season went without a captain before Denis Savard held the role the following season.  His trade to Montreal after the season opened the door for Dirk Graham, who would be captain from 1989-95.  His retirement would lead the way for Chris Chelios to be named captain from 1995-99, when his trade to Detroit signified a new captain for the 1999-2000 season in Doug Gilmour.

2000 to present

Until the last few years, the Blackhawks had experienced some major lows, and it reflects in the captaincy of this decade.  The decade began with Tony Amonte holding the captain's C from 2000-02, when he left after the 2001-02 season in free agency.  2002-04 was Alexei Zhamnov's turn with the C, and he didn't look too comfortable with the role.  2005-07 had Adrian Aucoin as captain, with Martin Lapointe holding the C briefly in 2006.  The 2007-08 season saw the Blackhawks go without a captain again.  Currently, Jonathan Toews is the team captain, having held it since 2008.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Winds of Leadership


Today presents a little bit of a poser, as the Carolina Hurricanes originally came into the NHL in 1979 as the Hartford Whalers as one of four teams from the WHA.  They moved to their current home in Raleigh in 1997.  So, what does that have to do with the captains?  Well, this means a little more work to find captains from both of the team's aliases, so to speak.  And being the guy that I am, the history of the captaincy will cover the Hartford (NHL years) and Carolina years.

In the team's early years, the captaincy was a model of inconsistency.  Rick Ley was a carryover captain from the WHA days, but only held it for one year in the NHL (1979-80).  The next three captains were all one season wonders, with Mike Rogers (1980-81), Dave Keon (1981-82), and Russ Anderson (1982-83) having the C.  Mark Johnson was the first player to have the captain's role for more than a season, as his reign went from 1983 to 1985.  Stability was found in the form of the Whalers' best player Ron Francis.  He held that role from 1985 to 1990, when he was traded to Pittsburgh.  He would return to the now-Carolina Hurricanes franchise later in his career, as this blog will note.  The 1990-91 season saw the team go without a captain, and the following year, Randy Ladouceur was named captain.  From 1992 to 1995, Pat Verbeek was the team captain.  He gave way to Brendan Shanahan, whose time in Hartford is likely forgotten by most, though he did lead the team in scoring in 1995-96.  He held that role until his trade to Detroit,  laeding the way for Kevin Dineen to be the final captain in the Hartford days.

1997 was the beginning of the Carolina days, and Dineen was captain for the inaugural season there.  The following season, Keith Primeau was named captain and brought a toughness to the team.  However, a holdout cost him the 1999-2000 season, and a new captain was named in his absence in Francis.  The returning Francis would hold the captaincy from 1999 until 2004, and like his first run in Hartford, he would be the face of the team's best years (to that point).  After the lockout, Rod Brind'Amour would be named captain, and his veteran know-how would pay dividends in 2006, as the Hurricanes wound up hoisting the Stanley Cup that year.  He would hold the captain's role until January 2010, when Eric Staal was named captain.  Staal holds that role now, and given the contributions of Francis and Brind'Amour (two of the three Hurricanes players to have their number retired), Staal has a lot to live up to, but his ability will speak for him as much as his ability to rally the team.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Flaming C


The Calgary Flames originated in Atlanta in 1972, and moved to Calgary in 1980, when they started play in the Stampede Corral, which is next door to their current home, the ScotiaBank Saddledome.  In eight seasons as the Atlanta Flames, they had four captains and in their thirty-one years in Calgary, the Flames have had fourteen captains.  The franchise that began in Atlanta began with Keith McCreary as captain from 1972-75.  Pat Quinn, who would later go on to be head coach at a few stops in the NHL, followed in the captain's role, holding it from 1975 to 1977.  Tom Lysiak was next, holding it from 1977-79.  The captain in the final year in Atlanta was Jean Pronovost, whose best years were in Pittsburgh and was also in the twilight of his career.  The first Calgary captain was Brad Marsh, who held the captain's role for the opening season.  The next two seasons were captained by Phil Russell.  In their inaugural year in the Saddledome up until their Stanley Cup year, the Flames have had three captains: Doug Risebrough (1983-87), Lanny McDonald (1983-89), and Jim Peplinski (1984-89).  In that stretch, the Flames had both co-captains and tri-captains, with any combination of those three being the main guys.  The 1989-90 season was captained by Brad McCrimmon, and the following year, the Flames went with a rotating system of captains.  From 1991 until his trade in 1995, the Flames were captained by Joe Nieuwendyk, who was one of the more underrated scorers in his time.  Taking his place as captain was Theo Fleury, who in his time as captain from 1995 to 1997, was as perfect of a fit as captain as the Flames would hope for.  It didn't hurt that he was (and still is) a fan favorite of the Calgary faithful.  Fleury relinquished the duties to Todd Simpson, who provided an equal amount of fire (no pun intended) and was willing to drop the gloves.  The 1999-2000 season was led by Steve Smith, who was in the twilight of his career.  From 2000-02, Dave Lowry was captain until the latter half of the 2001-02 season, when Bob Boughner  and Craig Conroy co-captained the Flames.  Conroy would be captain for the 2002-03 season,  and would relinquish the role after the season to current captain Jarome Iginla, who is the face of the current Flames squad.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Draw Your Sword!


This year, the Buffalo Sabres celebrate 40 years in the National Hockey League and their captaincy has been filled with characters, twists, turns, and everything in between.  For you sticklers about captains, the Sabres have had thirteen captains in their history and two years in which the captaincy was rotated amongst players (more on that later).

The inaugural year for the Sabres was headed up by Floyd Smith, who held it just for that year.  The following season, Gerry Meehan was named captain and held it until 1974, when Jim Schoenfeld assumed captain duties.  In his time as captain, which ended in 1977, there were no referees being told to have another doughnut.  Danny Gare followed and his ability to score, as well as mix it up, made him a fan favorite in his time in Buffalo.  He relinquished the captain duties in 1981 to another Sabres favorite Gilbert Perreault.  The all-time leading scorer in Sabres history was also the original Sabre, as he was the team's first ever draft pick.  In 1986, he gave up the captain duties to current Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who held the captaincy until 1989, when Mike Foligno and the "Foligno leap" was named captain.  The 1990-91 season saw the team go without a captain.  The following season, it was Mike Ramsey's turn to wear the C, and after the season, it was Pat LaFontaine who donned the captain's C.  He held the C until 1997 and was briefly spelled in the 1993-94 season by Alexander Mogilny while he was injured.  Unfortunately for LaFontaine, injuries would derail a solid career.  1997 saw a new captain in Michael Peca, who oversaw the team's Stanley Cup run in 1999.  A contract dispute after the 1999-2000 season saw the captain's C taken from Peca, as not only did he play without a contract for the 2000-2001 season, it also meant that the Sabres went without a captain for that season as well.  Peca's trade after that season saw a new captain in Stu Barnes.  He held court until 2003.  For the 2003-2004 season, the Sabres went with a rotating captain system that saw (in order) Miroslav Satan, Chris Drury, James Patrick, Jean-Pierre Dumont, Daniel Briere, and Drury again wear the C during the season.  From 2005 through 2007, the captaincy was bounced between Drury and Briere, with Drury wearing the C during home games and Briere being captain during road games.  After both left in 2007, the captaincy was once again rotated amongst players for the 2007-2008 season.  This time, (in order) Jochen Hecht, Toni Lydman, Brian Campbell, Jaroslav Spacek, Hecht again, and Jason Pominville donned the captain's C during the year.  Beginning in 2008, Craig Rivet was named captain of the Sabres, which has, for now, stopped the revolving door at captain.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More Than a Feeling (Yeah, that was a dated reference)


Since 1924, the Boston Bruins have had eighteen captains in their history, with some of them having two separate stints wearing the C.  Beginning in 1927, the Bruins had Lionel Hitchman wearing the C until 1931.    George Owen wore it for a season before giving way to Dit Clapper, who with the exception of the 1938-39 season (when Cooney Weiland wore the C), was captain of the Bruins from 1932 until 1946, meaning that he was captain during both the Great Depression and World War II.  The next ten years saw the team with only two captains, John Crawford (1946-50) and Milt Schmidt (1950-55).  Schmidt relinquished the captain duties before the 1954-55 season was completed to Ed Sandford, who gave way in the same season to Fernie Flaman.  He would go on to wear the C until 1961.  Don McKenney (1961-63) and Leo Boivin (1963-66) followed, and neither really made a mark on the team.  John Bucyk was named captain in 1966 and was relieved of the duties in 1967, when from that period until 1973, the Bruins went without a captain.  Eventually, Bucyk regained the captain duties in 1973 and was captain until 1977.  Wayne Cashman was named captain in 1977 and held the captain duties until 1983, when Terry O'Reilly (the same Terry O'Reilly who went into the stands at MSG after a fan took a teammate's stick and proceeded to beat him with his shoe) was named captain.  He held that role until 1985, when co-captains were named in Rick Middleton and Ray Bourque.  In 1988, Bourque held sole possession of the captain's C and held that role until 2000, when he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche so he could try to win a Stanley Cup (which he did in 2001).  Jason Allison replaced him for a year before the captaincy was vacant in the 2001-2002 season.  Joe Thornton was named captain in 2002, and was in that role until his trade to San Jose after the lockout in 2005.  That first season after the lockout, the Bruins went without a captain.  Currently, the Bruins are captained by Zdeno Chara, who has held the captaincy since his arrival in 2006.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Search for Stability


Ever since the Atlanta Thrashers entered the league in 1999, they have had little stability within the organization, and as a result, it has shown up in attendance numbers and the team's inability to make the playoffs.  Nowhere is this more evident than the history of the team's captaincy.

For the most part, the Thrashers' captains have often been players with experience, which read correctly, means players on their last legs.  In fact, they have had four captains in their first five years of existence, with Kelly Buchberger, Steve Staios, Ray Ferraro, and Shawn McEachern having the C on their sweater during that time, with only McEachern having it more than one season (2002-2004).  After the lockout, the first two years of the captaincy belonged to Scott Mellanby, which was followed for a year by Bobby Holik.  Like the many players with name recognition that the Thrashers signed over the years, Holik was pretty much there to collect a paycheck, as his skills had eroded by the time he got to Atlanta.  The 2008-2009 season saw the team go without a captain, and the following year, Ilya Kovalchuk was named captain and held it until his trade on February 4, 2010.  Currently, the Thrashers are without a captain, a rather fitting thing for a team that has always sought some stable leadership.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Captain Quack

Today begins the History of Captains in 30 days, where each team is viewed in accordance to the most important player on and off the ice: the Captain.  Today, as it was in the NHL season preview, we begin in alphabetical order, which means the Anaheim Ducks start off.  And the list of captains rattled off here (with a brief blurb about each one), is accurate, with Wikipedia as the source.  Take that for what you will.  So, with all of that out of the way, let's begin:


In the team's seventeen year existence, they have had nine captains.  Beginning with their inaugural year, Troy Loney was the team's first captain, when the team was known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.  The next two seasons saw the Captain's C placed on Randy Ladouceur.  Looking at the names so far, one would think that the choices for captain were uninspired.  Keep in mind that the Ducks were still trying to find an identity, and veteran leadership is a must when this is your situation.  From 1996-2003, the captaincy was bounced between two superstars: Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, with Kariya being captain for all except 1998 in that time period.  It was during this period that the Ducks had some legitimacy, but still struggled to make hay in the playoffs.  The 2003-2004 season saw a change in the Captaincy, as both Kariya and Selanne were no longer Ducks (though Selanne would be back in 2006) and Steve Rucchin was named captain.  Rucchin was the last of the Ducks remaining from the 1994-95 season, so this was kind of fitting.  After the lockout, the Captaincy was assigned to a new guy in Scott Niedermayer, who had two different reigns as captain (2005-07 and 2008-10).  In between the two reigns, Chris Pronger was captain in the 2007-08 season.  Both were symbols of the team's commitment to defense, and both brought a winning attitude to the Ducks.  This year, with Niedermayer retired, the Captain's role is now in the hands of Ryan Getzlaf.