Rob Blake served as San Jose Sharks captain for just one season before retiring. Now the keys to the car are available for the second straight off-season. The question is who takes over?
The importance of the little “C” that’s patched to a players sweater is debatable.
There’s evidence of a team’s captain being completely meaningless, especially when the player chosen is not suited for the position. A team can’t necessarily be led astray solely because of a bad captain but it can certainly mess around with chemistry and other aspects that directly influence a team.
However, there’s also been players who’ve become iconic for serving their role as captain. Those players embrace the duties that come with being a captain: talking to the media, providing a voice between the coaches and players, and being a leader on the ice and in the locker room.
There’s no set stereotypical mold that captains should fit into.
Usually experience and leadership are the key traits, but there’s other intangibles that can make a player a worthy captain. There have been examples of loud and quiet players, flashy and simple players, and superstars and role players being chosen as captain.
Age also use to be a criteria but with the recent youth movement in the NHL that’s no longer the case as evidenced by the success of some of the younger captains like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Mike Richards, Alex Ovechkin, Rick Nash, Eric Staal, Dustin Brown or the newly appointed Shea Weber. At the same time seasoned vets still hold the position of authority on a number of teams like Nicklas Lidstrom, Jamie Langenbrunner, Daniel Alfredsson, Bryan McCabe and Adam Foote.
The Sharks have a good mix on their roster of players in the prime of their careers and some just entering that stage.
Here’s some of the potential candidates on the current Sharks roster:
Dan Boyle- Boyle has been thrown around the last couple years as a favorite for the position. He’s a tenacious player that leads by example on the ice and isn’t afraid to say it how it is. Of these possible candidates, Boyle is the only one to hoist a Stanley Cup as well. The old-school criteria of experience and leadership are Boyle’s forte.
Joe Thornton- Most people think of Jumbo Joe when they think of the Sharks. His leadership has been questioned at times because of his lack of production when the going gets tough. When a player leads his team in scoring every year he’s been on the team though there has to be some merit to giving him the captaincy. He is this team’s superstar and grabs the most attention from both other teams as well as the media.
Patrick Marleau- Oddly enough he’s the only one on this list to have served as a previous captain before. The longest-tenured Shark is an obvious candidate for a position he’s held for nearly 5 years in the organization. He’s a soft-spoken player who tends to be a quieter leader. He’s also as important to this team as any other person in the organization, hence why he received a new 4-year contract recently.
Joe Pavelski- The dark-horse candidate. Pavelski would be the logical choice if the team wants to head into a new direction and start fresh with a younger captain for the future. Unlike these other candidates, Pavelski is just entering his prime as a 26-year-old. In the playoffs he emerged as a player who knows how to step up when needed, and clearly plays his best hockey when it counts the most.
As of right now, the money is probably on Boyle.
The memory most-ingrained of the last post-season for Sharks followers is Boyle’s alleged own-goal in overtime of game 3 of the opening series against Colorado. That goal gave the Avalanche a 2-1 series lead with game 4 still in Colorado. Instead of crumbling like every other year, it was Boyle who came out the next game and scored the first goal of game 4. If that’s not a perfect example of what a captain is than what is?
Filed Under: San Jose Sharks
About the Author: I am a journalism senior @ San Diego State University. Live, die and breath all sports; hardcore Bay Area fan. Playing guitar and sports is my downtime, usually in some combination with movies (making and watching).