In the Canucks’ annual post-Chicago press conference, Mike Gillis laid out the following goals for the off-season:
1. Bolster line-up – adding players through the entry draft, trades, or free agency; defense being the main focus.
2. Evaluate the Canucks’ coaching staff.
3. Re-evaluate Roberto Luongo’s situation and figure out if the team can manage him more effectively
Needless to say, plenty of action has been taken on the first two items, so let’s address the one remaining.
The first step Canucks management has taken towards “fixing” Luongo’s play has already been taken, with the hiring of a full-time goaltending coach, Rollie Melanson.
The other two matters that were to be reviewed were number of games played, and of course the issue of the captaincy.
I’m sure Gillis and his team are well underway with their evaluation and recommendations for both. After the results of last season, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the ‘C’ will be moving to another player to decrease the burden on Luongo’s shoulders. If you’ve forgotten why Luongo is not a suitable captain, or still need to be convinced, click here for a review.
So Who’s the New Captain?
Really, there are only 2 options, and they couldn’t have more opposite personalities: the silent assassin, or the loud, scruffy one.
If you are even a marginal Canucks fan, you know exactly the names of the two I speak.
The debate as to which would be the better candidate is a hot topic in Vancouver these days, so let’s break it down, HTTN style.
Sedin is the quiet leader of the team. He doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t have to – his play does the talking. There is a lot to be said of a captain with an even disposition, and the ability to never get too high or too low.
A player with even the slightest temper would have probably told the ref to go f*** himself after missing this call, and subsequently been tossed from the game… but not this calm and cool Swedish meatball
Many people prefer the vocal leader – the one who will issue the rally cry before a playoff game, or who will call out a teammate for a bad performance, but if you doubt the effectiveness of one who leads by example, a quick glance at this list of former quiet leaders will make you forget that: Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Nik Lidstrom, Trevor Linden.
When considering a captain, leadership within the dressing room should not be a team’s only concern. A captain is the face of the franchise in the community, and thus he should be a capable role model. No, Shane O’Brien is probably not perfect for the job.
Henrik Sedin embodies many characteristics that Vancouver can be proud of and look up to. Not only is he a great player, but a great human. Class, humility, generosity, and kindness – qualities a whole city can admire and appreciate.
Ryan Kesler offers a different angle completely. To recall what he brings to the table, one must not look at his performance in the 2010 playoffs – he was but a shadow of himself playing through a shoulder injury. Rather, we should remember his efforts during the 2010 Olympics.
Kesler was the leader of Team USA in every aspect – on the ice and in the dressing room. He led them in terms of effort, offensive output, and inspiration.
As I cheered for Canada, seeing Kesler jump onto the ice for each of his shifts was as frightening as eating mom’s meatloaf. If he strikes this sort of fear into the opposing team on a nightly basis, it can only be good for the Canucks. Trust me, it’s scary.
Since the departure of the old guard of Canucks’ leadership – Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, Trevor Linden – Kesler has embraced his increased influence on the team. He does it vocally, pushing the team onwards – encouraging teammates in the dressing room and on the bench, and his game on the ice certainly has the brute force approach that ignites those around him.
Granted, we have seen this personality shining through at many moments throughout the NHL season without a C on his shoulder, but given the accountability that the captaincy would offer, one has to believe that his consistency would improve, and he’d rise to the role.
Kesler also inspires teammates with his moves
Listen, there’s a reason we need to get the C away from Luongo – it’s a damn tough job. Both Kesler and Sedin seem to have the qualities to jump right into it. So, which one would you choose?
-to see the letter from Canucks’ management to Shane O’Brien, click here