The Montreal Canadiens had to change their captain for the second time in four years and it was a question hanging over their training camp. They decided instead to name four alternate captains: Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban.
Much like they did after Saku Koivu left, with no clear cut choice, they wanted to give someone a chance to step up. That’s what they are looking for here. In essence, it is now a leadership race.
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The easy way would have been to name any one of them captain, or have it come down to the old-fashioned team vote. The problem with the vote, however, would have been if anyone other than Subban won the narrative would be how he was unable to get the support of his teammates.
Plekanec and Markov were easily the top veteran choices for the role and Pacioretty and Subban – along with Carey Price – are the face of the young leaders of this team. In essence, I think that if it weren’t for the whole Roberto Luongo fiasco, Price would be the undeniable leader of this team and the captain. But he plays in goal and that doesn’t really work.
Make no mistake. This is Pacioretty, Subban and Price’s team. Markov and Plekanec will be lucky to play out the rest of their contracts and remain with the Canadiens. Both already have in house people getting ready to replace them in Nathan Beaulieu and Lars Eller respectively.
This is the easy way out for the Canadiens which isn’t really surprising and it really isn’t disappointing as a fan either. Eventually one of these guys will step up and to be completely honest, I think it will be Subban. You don’t make the commitment they did this offseason to someone if you think he is a distraction or doesn’t get along with his teammates.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter. But the narrative from the organization is that being the captain of the Montreal Canadiens means something. And after a string of five captains in six years between Guy Carbonneau and Vincent Damphousse, you want to make sure you give it to the right guy. Saku Koivu brought the respect back. Brian Gionta earned it. Now it’s time for someone to take hold and not let go.
Markov and Plekanec are likely not here in three years time. You don’t want this to come up again, so that ruled them out. Pacioretty and Subban are viewed as the leaders but haven’t had to step up in that role – neither of them were even assistants on a full-time basis. You also don’t want to alienate anybody as unprofessional as that would be.
The best decision would have been – in my fantasy world – to sign Koivu to a one-year deal, have him serve and retire as captain and face the decision they will be facing in a year anyways then.
In the end, this was the safe – if unspectacular – decision. And you can’t really blame them for that. There are a lot of reasons that the Montreal Canadiens are not the Ottawa Senators. Not having three captains in three seasons is one of them.
What are your thoughts? Are you disappointed or upset at the Canadiens decision?