Ahoy Captain

It’s big stuff, this talk of the next Habs captain now that Brian Gionta has gone back to his home state.

The fact is, I don’t think anyone right now has what it takes for the role. Kind of sad, but in a few years, it’ll probably all become clear.

Of course, if someone is chosen this year, please forget that you ever saw this.

The names are tossed around. There’s Markov and Subban, and Plekanec and sometimes Max, and for some unknown reason, Brendan Gallagher keeps coming up. I don’t know why. But more about that later.

A captain’s not there just to make the fans happy that there is one. He has to have big time respect and admiration from teammates. They have to look up to him and learn from him. He has to lead by example. That’s why you never saw Howie Young or Sean Avery or Sergei Kostitsyn wear the C on any team.

A Canadiens captain needs to take Rene Bourque aside when Bourque is comatose and give him verbal smelling salts. He needs to tell P.K. to sometimes calm down, or chat now and again with Michel Therrien and politely mention that embarrassing P.K. in public might not be the coolest thing.

A leader of men. Classy, smart, and distinguished. The opposite of me.

The coaches rely on him to talk to teammates and guide and advise. He has to be great with the media and fans. He has to get along in fine fashion with the on-ice officials. Ask the zebras about the wife and kids. Explain politely that Brendan Prust’s fist into someone’s face was a natural reaction caused by the other player saying something uncalled for about the referee’s wife.

It would be great if the players voted on the wearer of the C but chances are it won’t be like that. Which could also lead to the delicate situation of the player being a bit of a brown noser, one of management’s pipelines. That sort of thing is for losers.

Of course that only happens with other teams, not the Habs. This is a team that rises above the nuttiness. There’s never nuttiness in Montreal, you know that.

Andrei Markov leads by example, that’s for sure, and the players, I think, truly respect him. He’s a hard worker, which a captain needs to be, and he’s been around since he paired with Sprague Cleghorn. But when it comes to the microphone or the PR stuff, it’s just doesn’t seem to be in him.

I know a bunch of his fellow countrymen, and most are cut from the same cloth. Reserved and not all great around anything remotely  resembling public attention. Except Lucy’s son Denis in St. Petersburg, who loves to ham it up when the camera’s out. But I think he’s an anomaly.

As much as I admire Markov, he’s not completely captain’s material. At least not in my book. But you might have a different book.

Same with Tomas Plekanec. Not great in front of the camera. Kind of a quiet guy I think. Not one to take a rookie aside and tell him to lay off the booze and broads. Or maybe he does, but surely not the way a Mark Messier or the Rocket would have handled it.

And if you say that’s old time, that this is now, so what? Because leaders are leaders, whether it’s 1914 or 2014.

As much as I like Pleks, and as much as Brad Marchand dislikes him, which is a definite bonus, he, like Markov, doesn’t have the makeup to be a true captain.

P.K. Subban will be a fine captain some day. He leads by example, he struts in public, and he’s fired up to win. He’s perfect in many ways. We don’t want a laid back captain. We just had one. But P.K. still has a bit of goofiness in him, probably what a captain shouldn’t have.

As much as P.K. is liked by his teammates, do they look up to him at this point the way young players in Chicago look up to Jonathan Toews, or in Anaheim to Ryan Getzlaf, or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh?

Maybe after this season, after P.K. buys a few rounds, wins another Norris, and is voted Most Popular Guy on the Team by his teammates, then it’ll be time to put the C on him. He’s almost there. Just not quite.

The head scratcher for me is why Brendan Gallagher’s name comes up. As great a player he is, with a heart as big as can be, and a guy who would lead by example as a captain should, he’s still a kid. It’s obvious by the one minute interviews we see. He still talks like a kid. He was like a son to Josh Gorges and his wife when Gally rented a room at the Gorges resident.

Of course you could say Sidney Crosby roomed at Mario Lemieux’s house and was a captain at just 19, but these are two different personalities. I’m sure Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was also 19 when given the C, is a man/boy too. There are guys like that. I once had a teammate when I was about 15 who had to shave every day and had this serious man strength. He looked older than the coaches.

Imagine if everyone had his same burning desire as Gallagher. But he’s not captain material because he’s a kid and I don’t understand why it keeps coming up.

Max Pacioretty might make a fine captain, but it seems he gets into areas when he has to re-screw his head back on from time to time. He’s kind of like me in this regard only I probably take longer to recover. It’s not a knock on Max for having his up and down moments. It’s about a captain not having those moments. One who could help Max along when he’s feeling out of sorts.

A captain has to be a big brother. Jean Beliveau was good like this. He knew how to handle all sorts of egos in the dressing room. Max doesn’t seem to have this in his genes, nor does Markov, Plekanec, Gallagher, and P.K., although at least it seems that way to a guy who only watches them on TV and has never been in the room except during the Bell Centre tour.

The captain situation sort of mirrors the team situation. Getting there, but just not quite. I think it’ll be Subban wearing the C in the 2015-16 campaign if he doesn’t screw it up in the meantime by making his teammates want to throttle him.

It’ll interesting to see how this captain thing unfolds. Just wish we had an obvious choice.



25 thoughts on “Ahoy Captain”

  1. Two choices, one obvious and mentioned numerous times and the other a wild card… CP31 is the obvious choice and…

    Mike Weaver. Granted he is new, but during his stint he has beyond a stand up guy, does his job, won’t back down, and is pretty respected.

    This past Christmas I learned to dislike Weaver after he mixed up against Habs defending the snow-job given to his goalie. He capped by either scoring or grabbing an assist. When he was traded, being a Canadiens fan, I forgave all. His performance in the playoffs was solid and he wasn’t afraid to get dirty in the corners. He will torch Bourque’s back side, he’ll remind P.K. there are many years before he is in the HOF. And he seems like the guy who’ll tell management Max is worth more in trade than with the team. I think he’d be a great captain!

  2. Mike,although Price has the personality to be a captain, being a goalie is too difficult to combine with. It didn’t work with Luongo, and it might not work here either. Weaver on the other hand might be a good choice. I never even considered him. I like this choice and kudos to you for mentioning this.

  3. Good thoughts Dennis. It might not be a bad idea to wait a season before deciding who will be the next Captain as was done in the case of Gionta if I recall correctly.

  4. You know I never heard any complaints about Gionta not learning to speak French, unlike Koivu, and I’m sure I would have noticed if he was talking to the reporters in French. Why the double standard?
    I agree Dennis, Gally is just too young right now and shouldn’t even be considered. In a year or two perhaps Subban would be ready which to me leaves the only choices are either Pleks or Markov. While neither is the ideal they are the senior core of the team’s best players and could be an acceptable captain until one of the younger players is ready to take on the role.

  5. Good article Dennis!! Kinda agree on the ones mentioned and the reasons not to pick them. P.K. is P.K. Probably better staying P.K. — not captain P.K. So to stir the pot, I’ll throw a name in the hat. He loves the Habs, he plays with zest and zeal, he’s NOT the best choice but would fill in till there is “The Best” He scored some goals and is ” not the best” but maybe an intern captain—# 22 Dale Weise.——-he’s not the best but he plays with passion and could inherit some of ‘ole 22’s habits. Good to hear from you Dennis.

  6. Hi Danno. Maybe I’m wrong and anyone of those mentioned would wear the C well. Maybe I’m so out of touch with today’s game that I’m still thinking a captain should be like those of the past. I have no idea.

  7. DJ, that’s a valid point about the French thing. I can’t recall any flak given to Gionta about not being bilingual. Koivu, got it, and so did Mike Keane. And you’re right. One of the senior guys could be fine for now. But I’ve heard that Markov doesn’t want it at all so maybe it’ll fall to Pleks.

  8. Hi Peter. Good to hear from you too. Hope you’re having a fine summer. I knew you’d like Weise as C, and I think he’d be good, although I’ll bet there’d be serious flak from folks because he’s been a fourth liner and such. I have no idea. I just decided to post something because I’ve been itchy to do something. I think I could’ve done a better job but I was impatient to get a post out. Now I need to sit down and write that letter to Geoff Molson that I’ve been meaning to do about the stick boy job.

  9. Dennis, I don’t think you’re out of touch at all.
    Underappreciated by some, maybe. But there’s no way you’re out of touch.

  10. DK, great comments & insight as always! how about Brandon Prust, senior player with heart & fists to back it up. I also don’t feel he would back down from telling a player like PK to get with the program! Just a thought.

  11. Mike, I think Prust is a great choice. I can’t believe I didn’t think of him. He’s a veteran player, great personality, has respect. Good thinking, Mike.

  12. I think it’s between Plekanec, Prust or possibly Subban.

    Markov should have been named captain 5 years ago, but my understanding is that he didn’t want it then and now I think its too late.

    If the captain is named with an eye to the future, Subban’s the guy. My biggest problem with him isn’t his youth or immaturity, but that I don’t think he has enough respect yet from opposing players to represent the team.

    I think Plekanec would be a captain similar to Gionta. Skilled, respected, experienced but still young enough with a long term contract. Also he was captain of the Czech team at the Olympics. But I think he’s like Markov and doesn’t want the extra responsibility.

    Prust brings the right attitude. And he has a hot French-Canadian wife/girlfriend, to boot. Good call Mike.

  13. Hi Christopher. I much prefer Prust to Plekanec, although I like Pleks very much. I’m not sure I want a guy similar to Gionta. I also think Pleks might not be completely respected by opposing players but I certainly could be wrong here.

  14. they don’t need one. let every body do their job play the dang game and get on with it. its not like it really changes much does it? its pretty mucha pretty title. no takes orders from captains do they? i mean, like Gionta never gave orders? right. so why worry? love your site!

  15. Thanks Nifty. I think captains can be important if they’re really respected in a big way by teammates. They have to be serious leaders, and sometimes a go between with management. But I agree – play the dang game and earn every cent you make.

  16. I love what Price said today about finding a captain, that the C was more of a ceremonial thing and basically the guy that needs to stick around after the game for interviews. Couldn’t agree more. Too much to do about nothing in my opinion.

  17. I find myself disagreeing with that, Marjo. A captain is more than a mouthpiece, he’s also suppose to lead by example, help his teammates any way he can, and sometimes tell them to cool it when they’re out of line. A captain is also the guy who has his say with the referee and linesmen, and sometimes needs to talk to management on behalf of teammates. Other things as well. Simply talking to the media after a game is way too simplified.

  18. I think those responsibilities were definitely duties that were taken on years ago. It’s my feeling, and just a feeling that the culture of the teams today as a whole group will chirp in with encouragement, setting a player straight and rallying the team.

    Nonetheless, it would be interesting to have a journalist write an article about it. Just how important is a captain?

  19. Marjo, not everyone on a team has what it takes to be a leader, as is the case in most walks of life. So some guys do it naturally for the rest. In my post I wrote about the importance of the captaincy, and although I’m not now a journalist per say, I was a newspaper guy for years and in my present job I write about players and teams all day long. But if you want to read what a writer says about what a captain should be, check out Michael Ulmer’s “Canadiens Captains”.

  20. Dennis, I’m referring to what Price said. In light of his remark, it would be interesting to see a write up on what he said about the C in comparison to how we always viewed what a captain is and what he does. It could be the times have changed. And considering Price is in the room and witnesses it all I feel he brings in an interesting angle to the topic.

  21. AHAAAAAA! An interview with Cournayer (by Dave Stubbs)…”“Is the captain very, very, very important today, compared to what he once was? I don’t know,” he added. “Maybe it doesn’t have the same sense as in the days of Maurice (Richard) and Jean (Beliveau) and Henri (Richard).”

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