With Brian Gionta’s contract expiring at the end of the season, it has led to
speculation of who his replacement as captain might be should the Habs not
re-sign him. Should the team follow the recent trend of giving the
captaincy to a younger player or give it to a veteran instead? Our writers
have a variety of opinions on this matter and weigh in with their thoughts.
Each writer was asked the following question: Who on the current roster would be the best option to replace Gionta as
captain if he does not return after this season?
Matt Dilworth: I think Josh Gorges is perfect captain material
if/when Brian Gionta leaves the team. Gorges has had to fight his way every step
of the way to get where he is, and gives it his all every game. He’s articulate
when he speaks with the media, and reports suggest that he commands considerable
respect in the locker room. The only question that remains is (and it’s one that
surely will be discussed if/when the time comes), does he speak French?
Brian La Rose: My preference for a captain is one who leads by
example and isn’t overly vocal, much like Saku Koivu was in his tenure.
There’s enough of a media frenzy with reactions and overreactions to everything
that’s said, I don’t want the next captain to be one to add more fuel to the
fire. That’s why Tomas Plekanec would be my preference should Gionta not
return. He has been with the club for a long time, is consistently one of
the hardest workers and top players on the team (so he commands respect from the
room), while he also has a decent rapport with the media. He knows not to
go over the top with his comments but he isn’t afraid to talk with them either.
There’s enough pressure on the up-and-coming youngsters, they don’t need any
more by wearing a letter at this stage. That’s best suited for the
Alex Létourneau: I would have to think Josh Gorges is the front
runner to wear the ‘C’ next for the Canadiens. This is a guy who has grown in the
organization, clearly understands what it means to put on this particular
jersey, is a leader on the ice – and from media reports, off the ice as well. He
says the right things before and after games, whether it’s positive or negative
and most importantly, you can see his teammates believe in him. This isn’t a
flashy guy, he won’t score 15 goals and 60 points, but he’ll get it done in the
character areas that don’t show up on the score sheet, for the most part. He’s a
warrior, as he’s shown through playing for years with pretty much one knee,
countless shot blocks with all parts of his body (head-to-toe) and the
occasional beating he receives from jumping on a bigger guy to defend a teammate.
That, to me anyway, is a blueprint to be a captain in the NHL.
Matt Macaskill: I’m almost convinced that Gionta will not
return with the Habs next season. There are a handful of players I could see
wearing the ‘C’ next year: Josh Gorges, Brandon Prust, Andrei Markov, or even
Daniel Briere. Markov is a longstanding Canadien and I’d give it to him if he
re-signs with the team. He’s really come into his own and grown more comfortable
with the media over the last few years. The perseverance and dedication he
displayed returning from a series of unfortunately injuries is impressive. If he
doesn’t return next season though, Gorges seems like the favourite judging by the
respect both his teammates and the fans have for him.
Kevin Meldrum: I believe in having your best player as your
captain if you have the character, work ethic, skill, and heart, while wanting to be on
the ice when the game is on the line. These are all qualities of a leader and P.K. Subban to me is oozing every one of these
attributes; combined with the natural skill he
possesses he would make a great captain. A captain leads by example combined
with knowing how to push his teammates to be better and being the hardest worker
on and off the ice, Subban is rounding into this player.
If not him, Max Pacioretty and Josh Gorges are the other possible candidates.
Norm Szcyrek: In terms of veteran leadership, I would lean
towards either Josh Gorges or Tomas Plekanec for a possible replacement as
captain if it’s required. With the high amount of turnover on the team over the
past few years, there have not been many players who have the longevity with the
Habs lately, but these two would fit the bill.
We also posed this question to our posters on the
Here is a sampling of their responses.
Hab-Wrath: "Gorges no doubt. He is a Canadien through and through. He
lays in front of pucks like nobody else and steps up to guys knowing he’s gonna
get a beating. Good locker room guy and for me the obvious choice."
saskhab: "The modern NHL uses captains as marketing tools. The Habs
don’t necessarily need to do that, but you can’t underestimate that part of the
equation. In that sense, Subban is a no brainer. Plus he handles the media
very well, has an insane passion for the club, craves a chance at winning in
Montreal and is great in the community."
Trizzak: "I’d like to see Plekanec get the respect he deserves, but
logic dictates it would go to someone currently wearing an ‘A’, in which case
Gorges makes the most sense."
habs rule: "Gorges is the choice because he has the respect of
everyone on the team. He is a well rounded player who will do whatever it takes
to win. Not really even a question."
Machine of Loving Grace: "It always seemed like fate for Gorges to be
the captain but I think Brandon Prust might have usurped him in that role. Both
players are around the same age with long term deals with the team so it
wouldn’t hurt either way."
Neech: "I think a lot will come down to this next season. If P.K.
shows that he’s more of a leader along with being the best player on the ice,
then he has a shot. I don’t see Plekanec and Markov as being captain material –
they’re a little aloof and I’m not sure they inspire their teammates."