September 13, 2010

Giving Up The "C"

This is Lee Fogolin, voluntarily giving up captaincy of the Edmonton Oilers to Wayne Gretzky in 1984.

Coincidence or not, the rest as they say is history. Glorious history. The Oilers would go on to win 5 Stanley Cups in the next seven years.

Another good example of giving up the "C" for the good of the team would the dynastic New York Islanders. Clark Gillies was uncomfortable as the team captain. He gave it to Denis Potvin. The Islanders won 4 Stanley Cups in a row in the 1980s.

Those two cases were definitely voluntary stepping downs. They were the right moves to make and they were all rewarded with the results.

Very rarely do we see team success when a player is stripped of his captaincy. The hard feelings are understandable and obvious. The effect on the team's psyche and morale is unknown to anyone not inside the dressing room. But all too often it does not end well in terms of championship success.

Which leads me Monday's news. Roberto Luongo has "voluntarily relinquished" the captaincy of the Vancouver Canucks. That's what the carefully scripted press release says. Or should it say voluntarily because Mike Gillis told him so?

If it was voluntary why didn't Luongo do it earlier, on his own accord? Why did he step down after Gillis forced him into a meeting about the issue. And why did Gillis go public the day before to make his concerns known and to make it clear that it was Gillis, not Luongo, who had the final call?

I am guessing Gillis wanted a change, and Luongo, a very proud man who I doubt really wanted to give up the C, agreed to let the spin doctors make it look good.

One thing is for sure - we are all ready for this story to disappear. Especially Luongo himself.

I really think Trevor Linden, who was forced into "voluntarily" giving up the C to Mark Messier in 1997, hit the nail on the head when he said this whole captain controvery is blown greatly out of proportion. If any team is to succeed, it will need great leadership on the ice and in the dressing room regardless of who has the C or an A or no letter at all. It is not a one person job any longer, if it ever was.

One thing is for certain: if the Vancouver Canucks are going to be successful this season, they need great leadership from Henrik Sedin, from Ryan Kesler and from Roberto Luongo.

Next Captain?

Speaking of Henrik and Kesler, who should be the next captain of the Vancouver Canucks? Is there any other candidate besides these two? Should they go with no captain at all?

From a fan's perspective, the most important role a captain serves is to be the face of the franchise. We don't know the inner dynamics of the team. We see the on ice performance only. Who best portrays what we want from our team? The classy and talented superstar, winner of the Hart and Art Ross trophies? Or the gritty, hard working grinder?

Henrik would be my choice, but I certainly would not be surprised to see them go with Kesler. Gillis and co. invest a lot of time into the psychology of a team and individual players. Perhaps this will help Kesler get to the next level, a level the Canucks need him to get to if they are going win a championship. Henrik is already at that level and needs no such carrot.

1 comment:

Markostickboy said...

A goalie should never have been the Captain in the first place