As you can tell from my title, this post will be about captains, I’ll be focusing on some of my favorite captains in the NHL from over the years, yeah I know 22 is a rather short span but I’ll make it the best I can. From those of you that know me, one of my all-time favorite players is Sidney Crosby, who happens to be a captain for his team the Pittsburgh Penguins and claimed the spot of captain at the end of his second season in the NHL at the ripe age of 19. The very next year, he helped lead his team in winning the Stanley Cup and he became the youngest NHL captain ever to do so. That’s not the only record Crosby has either, ever since his skates hit the ice for the very first time as an NHL player nearly 10 years ago, he’s been tearing up the ice with scoring titles and fancy moves that no one will soon forget.
Moving from Crosby to a little lesser known captain in the league, but not in the heart of Minnesota Wild fans, yes I’m talking about #9, Mikko Koivu who became the Wild’s first ever permanent captain in 2009 which would have been the Wild’s 9th year of existence. He’s been their captain every since. (Prior to that year the captaincy rotated every month based on the player the coach best thought deserved the honor) No, he’s not a goal scorer like Crosby or Gretzky but he’s a play-maker. Every year in the NHL he finishes with more assists than goals. Many people when they think of a captain, they think of the best player on the team, or the one that scores all the goals. In most cases, this isn’t the case, it’s the person who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice and can rally the team in the roughest of times. Yes, many captains are very good at their sport as well. When you watch Mikko Koivu, you can immediately tell, he’s captain material; just by the way he carries himself on the ice. There’s always pride in his eyes and he’s always looking for ways to improve the team.
I know a lot of people have probably been wanting the Wild to get a different captain, in favor of someone who scores more goals, but let me tell you something; Captains=leadership+talent+confidence+sacrifice…etc. A lot goes into a good captain and they are the ones that tend to take the fall when the team does poorly, almost more so than the coach because they are the player that is supposed to rally a win together. There is more to a captain than scoring goals or having a temper tantrum at the ref about a poor call. True captains are able to keep their cool no matter what the call and they will put everyone else on the team in their place if they act out. They are the ones willing to put it all out there and take it all on their shoulders. I believe Mikko Koivu is the perfect captain for the Wild right now, simply based on his ability to lead the team.
Moving from current day captains to my all-time favorite, that’s right people, #99, “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” remains one of my favorite quotes and it always will be. During his days with the Edmonton Oilers, he helped win four Stanley Cups.. yes Four! He himself won 7 scoring titles consecutively during that time as well. He has 40 regular season records plus 15 playoff records along with numerous other unofficial records over the years. I still shake my head at all the records he has and the numbers he put up over the years. He would be a captain that had talent galore but he was also rather humble and a play-maker. Sure he could score goals left and right, but he passed a lot more than he shot. He was a true team leader. I could go on and on about him being the greatest player ever, but most everybody already knows my opinion of Gretzky and we’ll leave it at that.
Basically my point with this whole post was to point out several captains who have been awesome at their roles with their respective teams and what it really takes to be a captain. Meaning more than scoring goals or looking cool. It takes a lot of work to be a captain and I would like everyone reading this to keep that in mind before they are too quick to judge a captain’s performance. They are under a lot of pressure too!
Thanks for reading!