Nearly the minute the lockout ended, I was asked the question, “Who do you think will get the C?” (For those of you unfamiliar with the NHL, the playing wearing the C on his jersey is the team Captain.)
Zach Parise is gone home to Minnesota to play with Ryan Suter and maybe two or three other players once the salary cap shrinks next season and the Wild has to trade everyone. Parise was a great captain: a guy who could score that goal, make that pass, dig deep along the boards to come up with the puck, and do just about anything to swing the momentum back in the Devils direction. But Zach is gone, so welcome to debate central, where there will be talks, discussions and so forth on whose jerseys will have small piece of cloth shaped like the letter “C” sewn onto it making him the captain for all to follow into battle.
The easy answer is Ilya Kovalchuck. He signed a contract that puts him with the team until he gets his AARP card, and well, he is Ilya Kovalchuck. Have you seen this dude skate? It is bananas. He can score like crazy and is among the most passionate players I’ve ever seen on the ice. The guy screams at himself (in Russian sometimes) when he messes up and that’s hilarious, but also a sign of a someone I’d follow onto the ice and trust as a leader.
But I never liked easy answers. They are boring.
Why not give the C to Bryce Salvador? Big Bryce is as solid as they come on D. He lost a year to a concussion, and came back with a solid year and one of the best performances of the entire playoffs (and I’m not just talking for the Devils, I’m talking all of the NHL playoff teams). And even after suffering the concussion he continues to put his body on the line for the sake of the team. All in all, the guy is a beast.
How about David Clarkson? Why not? He proved he isn’t just a bruiser who can occasionally score. He is a goal scorer, who can drop the gloves when needed. Often times scoring goals that are momentum shifters, and now when he drops the gloves you know it is for a good reason (or just because someone pissed him off, I’m not a mind reader). If given the C it also might entice the young man to stay around for a bit. I’d like Clarkson to be a life-long Devil.
How about Patrick Elias? Because, he said no a few years ago, that’s why not.
How about Stephen Gionta? My friends and I affectionately gave Gionta the nickname “Gummo,” because, well, because it is funny that’s why (and also because he is the younger brother of Devils legend and Montreal Canadians captain Brian Gionta). Talk about a guy that made a name for himself at the 11th
hour last year. I was at the last game of the season against Ottawa when he got the call up from Albany. The Devils looked abysmal at the start of the game. They couldn’t get anything going. Then Gionta scores a goal by skating hard to the net. That goal seemed to spark something in the team and they just crushed the Senators. Then as the playoffs rolled around it was Gionta (along with the fourth line) that seemed to be the deciding factor in a lot of their victories. So why not give it to a guy with experience as captain (he was the captain of the Devils AHL squad for several seasons)? Why not give it to the little guy? The fourth liner?
In summation, I say who cares who gets named Captain. An argument could be made for most of the Devils roster. They aren’t a particularly young squad. Why not change it up every week? Let everyone wear the “C” at some point. There shouldn’t be just one captain for the team – every player should be able to wear the piece of cloth and lead the Devils to victory! These guys are all NHL players and they should all be able to be captain.