While checking out at Publix over the weekend, the kid manning the self-checkout station approached me about my P.K. Subban shirt. Yes, I’ve already purchased a Subban “shirtsey” because I am still giddy about this trade. He asked me about who would replace Shea Weber as captain and I mentioned a few options, but ultimately decided it was worth a post.
While this subject has been up for debate since the millisecond after it was announced Weber was shipping off to Montreal, it has been fun to see all the different speculations as to who might be presented with this significant role and title. But first, let’s talk about the roles of captain and alternate captain. While it is easy to assume that the more veteran players would be on the top of the list, that is not always the case. Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche is a prime example that age and (NHL) experience doesn’t always play a major factor when it comes to becoming the captain. Drafted second overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history at the age of 19 in 2012. It should also be noted that – though it’s nothing new to Nashville – being a part of one organization for years doesn’t automatically qualify you for the position (or alternate) either. Sorry Leggy.
Yet another option to consider? How about no captain at all. Yes, believe it or not, there are a few teams that spend their seasons without a designated leader. The Edmonton Oilers did not have a captain last season, just a rotation of four alternate captains. And, in a more wild and unlikely (but possible) scenario, there’s the chance that title could go to Pekka Rinne (who will be featured below). Back in the day (1920s-40s), being a goalie plus the captain wasn’t unheard of. Now? Well, the League hasn’t banned net-minders being the captain altogether, but they will not acknowledge this extended title. The last goaltender to be named captain was actually rather recently in 2008 when the Vancouver Canucks bestowed the title to Roberto Luongo. While the league would not allow him to perform on-ice duties or wear the iconic ‘C’ on his sweater, he did sneak a captain’s ‘C’ onto his mask. Luongo held his captaincy from 2008-2010 before handing the title to Henrik Sedin.
I write this all to say that anything is possible as to who may be the next captain of the Nashville Predators, but I have my beliefs that it will be Roman Josi. However, it’s fun to go through all the possibly candidates because… who knows? Plus, I miss hockey.
Possible Captain Candidates:
- Why he should be Captain: Uh, because he’s Roman Josi? All kidding aside, Josi has shown an incredible amount of skill and poise both on and off the ice. While we’ve known of his capabilities for years, the rest of the league is finally taking notice. After being selected to the 2016 All-Star festivities this year, Josi was finally getting more attention has a competitive contender instead of just Shea Weber’s linemate. Being an integral part of the Predators organization, this would be the time to give Josi the reins and promote him to captain status.
- Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I believe Josi has the greatest chance of becoming the next captain of the Nashville Predators, you cannot overlook Mike Fisher’s leadership and contributions to the team. I believe there is a slim chance they may give it to Fisher for a year and groom Josi into the position once Fisher retires.
- Why he should be Captain: Fisher has been an alternate captain since his first full season with the Predators in 2011-12. If you were to go by veteran presence alone, then Mike Fisher’s your guy. He is undoubtedly a leader both on the ice and off, thus transitioning into the captain’s role would make complete sense and would come easy to the center.
- Why he wouldn’t be Captain: As mentioned, Fisher’s role as captain would make total sense, but there is one thing to consider: his possible retirement. Not every NHL player is a Jaromir Jagr and 36-years-old is getting kind of up there in hockey years. That, and being a new father kind of puts other things into perspective on the family front as well (because we all know Carrie’s not slowing down for a while). If he were to retire after the 2016-17 season, that means the process of choosing another captain would be up for grabs after one year. Not a huge deal, as Kimmo Timonen served as captain for one season (2006-07), but why not go ahead and choose someone that has no plans of retiring any time soon? Now, I have no idea when Fisher plans to hang up his skates, but I believe it will be sooner rather than later (he does only have one season left on his contract).
- Why he should be Captain: Neal has had a leadership role with the Predators ever since arriving to Nashville in the 2014-15 season and quickly became one of the notable faces of the franchise. Though it doesn’t seem like it, Neal would fall under the veteran status within the organization and this could be his time to step up within the team.
- Why he wouldn’t be Captain: While I don’t really have a reason as to why he would not do well as the captain, I just believe there are two better candidates on the team at this time. It is also important to note that Neal has a bit of a reputation with the officials and that does throw in a hindrance as well.
Alternate Captain Candidates:
I think it’s obvious that, if Roman Josi is named captain, the two alternate captains would continue to be Mike Fisher and James Neal. However, like last season, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne were names alternates although they did not wear the ‘A’ on their sweaters (no, goalies cannot wear an ‘A’ either). The players below are who I believe would be good candidates for alternate captain:
- Why he should be an Alternate: As we are all aware, Pekka is a positive dude and holds himself accountable for situations under his control (and even those not under his control). He keeps his cool and, on the rare occasion he does get upset, you know he’s serious. Goal-tending is an unique position that essentially requires you to have some kind of leadership skills and/or qualities; Pekka Rinne’s got that down pat and it is clear that the rest of team looks to him in times of need.
- Why he should be an Alternate: Though he’s facing his first full season with the Nashville Predators, I certainly see him as being a part of the leadership group. Johansen, like Neal, has a bit of an edge to him, but it’s an edge that makes him memorable in a good way. Although he is young, he does have the makings for a great leader and Nashville will be his home to perfect those qualities.
- Why he should be an Alternate: Before the acquisition of P.K. Subban, there’s no doubting that Filip Forsberg was the most exciting player on the team (and he still could be). He’s young, well-spoken, level headed, and it’s clear that the Predators intend to push him as a franchise player.
- Why he should be an Alternate: Not only has he held this role with the Montreal Canadiens, but he is also easily the most recognizable and marketable player on the team (before even laces up with the Predators). Enough said.
- Why he should be an Alternate: With an intensity on the ice, Ekholm has a knack for standing up for his fellow teammates in their time of need. This devotion to his team signifies a quality a leadership that his former captain was well known for.
- Why he should an Alternate: With the trading of Weber, Ryan Ellis has now found himself in almost a veteran position. As someone who has expressed leadership qualities well before his time with the Predators organization, it would only be natural for the 25-year-old defenseman to move up into a more defined leadership role.
So, to summarize all of this, I believe Roman Josi will be the seventh player to be named captain of the Nashville Predators, with Mike Fisher, James Neal, and Pekka Rinne as the alternate captains. Should I have just said that from the get-go? Probably, but then this post wouldn’t have been so much fun (or taken me nearly as long). Do you have the same predictions or are you thinking something completely different? Well, we will all see soon enough.