In an interview with Pavel Lysenkov of Sovetsky Sport, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was asked if Chris Pronger was the “real captain” in the Flyers locker room last year despite the fact that Mike Richards sported the “C” on his sweater.
Bobrovsky said “it all depends. The team didn’t have a rule that only the person wearing a ‘C’ could talk. When needed, everyone had a chance to say something, not just Pronger, but Richards, Briere, Giroux… Everyone gave advice, motivated their teammates.”
Now, the Flyers are without a captain as they traded away Richards during the offseason. And the consensus is that coach Peter Laviolette will name Pronger the captain sooner or later. But with Pronger’s health in question for the start of the season, is naming the 36-year-old the captain the best thing for the team?
No one will question Pronger as a leader on any team he’s on. His towering presence is enough to intimidate anyone. He’s mean, knows what it takes to win, isn’t afraid of no one and will say what needs to be said to his teammates, his coaches and the media.
Chris Pronger is a captain.
However, you want your captain on the ice, and there is no guarantee that Pronger will be ready to play come October. Am I saying that Pronger should not be the next captain of the Philadelphia Flyers? Absolutely not because in reality, no matter who has the “C” sewn on their sweater come opening night, a guy like Chris Pronger is the “real” captain.
He doesn’t need the “C” on his jersey to be known as the captain. Everyone in the locker room looks at him when times are tough because he’s been there, done that.
And the Flyers don’t need to name him the captain. Not because he’s not the right fit, but because they have other options.
How about Kimmo Timonen?
The 36-year-old was the captain for the Nashville Predators before coming to the Flyers in 2007, and has been the alternate captain for the Predators and the Flyers. When he was the “C” in Nashville, Timonen had a career year where he posted 13 goals and 42 assists.
Timonen is a leader, and he’s captain material. He won’t be the first person to call out a player to the media but he won’t shy away from the media either. He, too, will say what needs to be said.
Or how about Danny Briere?
Briere is a warrior, and a playoff performer. He plays his best when it matters most. He’s the guy who will score the game-tying goal in the third period or the overtime winner. His fist pump brings joy to every Flyers fan every time he lights the lamp.
And he was a captain before. Briere took over as captain in Buffalo from Chris Gratton. Like Timonen, Briere is soft-spoken, but respected in the locker room. That’s what matters most. Being respected in the room.
You cannot be a captain if your teammates do not respect you.
Richards is a captain. One day, he’ll probably be the Kings captain, but in Philadelphia, his teammates didn’t respect him. It’s time to name someone who the players respect.
And you can bet it’ll be either be Pronger, Timonen or Briere.
All I’m saying is, give the “C” to Timonen or Briere because Prongs don’t need it on the sweater to be the captain.
He already is.
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About the Author: Tom Dougherty is a journalism student at Temple University, a web producer for CSNPhilly.com, and runs Flyers Focus (http://flyersfocus.net/). He loves coffee, hockey and Pearl Jam -- preferably at once.