Canucks Captaincy: The players should choose Luongo’s successor.

Well the most talked about Canucks off-season topic has now been officially announced, and to no ones surprise, Roberto Luongo has resigned himself from the captaincy of the club.

First of all, I guess it should be noted I think this was the right decision. I had no problem with Luongo as the captain, and I think for the most part he stood in there, took the questions, and did a decent job. Roberto is a very intense individual. His desire to win and compete at the highest level cannot be denied. By giving up the captaincy he’s giving himself and his team the best chance to do just that.

There is no doubt that Luongo plays in the most mentally demanding position on the team. In my outsiders opinion, I think the added responsibilities of being the captain of an NHL team only added unnecessary stress to his already challenging  job. The media scrums that come with being the captain are a regular occurrence, and on nights when Luongo didn’t play well, or the defense broke down in front of him, it was tough to watch him in those scrums. Your captain should also lead on a nightly basis, and on nights when Luongo didn’t start, or got pulled, that wasn’t an option.

With the mental strain of his position, everything possible should be done to ensure that Roberto only has to concern himself with preparing himself in whatever way he needs to on any given night. Maybe that means he doesn’t speak to the media before games. Yes he’s still a marquee player, and he’ll still be called on to speak to the media, but there will be less expectation to do so and if there is a night where he just doesn’t feel like standing there taking the same old questions, he will have that option.

The captaincy importance itself is a situation fairly unique to hockey with the visible “C” on the jersey, and the fact that only captains are supposed to speak with officials. But I think it’s safe to say that the players themselves realize it takes a team effort to win, and not just a great leader wearing a letter on their jersey. It matters a lot less to them who the captain of the team is. It’s a much bigger deal to the media and the fans, and this decision is better or the team.

So who should be the captain of the Vancouver Canucks? There seems to be two public front runners in Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin and both players would be good choices, but I think the players themselves should choose their new captain. I’d even like to see the vote delayed until the preseason comes to an end to let the cream rise to the top. The players in the room know who the leaders are, they should be the ones that elect the successor to Luongo.

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Oh Ryan, My Captain?

Ryan KeslerNovember 3, 2009 marked for me, and for many out there, the coming out party of Ryan Kesler. That game against the New York Rangers at GM Place solidifies the letter on this man’s chest.  Question is: Is it the ‘right’ letter?

We’ve been seeing the improvement in Ryan’s game over the last few years, especially after the Canucks matched a qualifying offer the Philadelphia Flyers made to him in 2006. Ryan Kesler is, as they say in Toronto, “The Straight Goods”.   The man has not only has proven to be a good defensive forward, (good enough to garner himself a nomination for the Selke Trophy) but he can put up some good numbers.  The passion and intensity that Ryan Kesler brings to the ice each and every night is unmatched on this roster.

I’ve always liked Kesler, but it wasn’t until about a season and half ago I really believed he should have succeeded Markus Naslund as Canuck captain; instead it went to Roberto Luongo.   When I see Ryan Kesler, I see a guy who sticks up for his teammates, even if they were in the wrong (the Kelly Backes incident). I see a guy who can approach the officials and be listened to and taken seriously.  His diplomacy with the media showed in his younger years has been honed to near perfection in the present day.

So why isn’t Ryan Kesler the Canuck captain? I’m not sure.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Roberto Luongo a lot, and I like the move that Canucks management did to make him the Captain on a marketing, news-making, and intra-locker room level, but I think it’s time to give it to someone who doesn’t stay on blue ice.  I think it’s time that Ryan Kesler wears the “C”.

Here’s why:

  • Ryan Kesler hates to lose. You see how angry he gets when the Canucks have lost a game or are put in a losing situation. He will do everything he can to make sure he does his part to make it better.
  • Ryan Kesler plays hard each and every shift. If he’s on the ice, he’s doing something and moving, and trying to create chances.
  • Ryan Kesler is an excellent two-way player. Tell me who on the team is better than Kesler in terms of a two-way game?
  • Ryan Kesler has improved something about his game each and every year he’s been on the roster.  At this point in the season, he’s 20th overall in scoring and is on pace to have having a career year hitting an 82pt total.

How can anyone argue any of these points? In all honesty, I suppose, if someone tried really hard and dug really deep they could, but on many other teams, Ryan Kesler is a shoe-in for team captain.  In fact, I am sure many feel as I do, he should be our captain.  All the ‘what ifs’ have been answered, and resoundingly, Ryan Kesler is a bona fide leader.  So maybe our franchise player should be just that, and let the captaincy go to the heart and soul of the team.