Is the Vancouver Canucks Captaincy Really a Big Issue?

Published by Bill Kellett on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 — View Comments

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo

Image via Wikipedia

It is a debate that has been ongoing since the beginning of time. How important is a captain to a sports team? Every sport has a designated captain, but do we know who they are? Can you name the captain of the Toronto Blue Jays? The Dallas Cowboys? The Boston Celtics? Hockey is the only sport which emphasises the captaincy of a team, and in many cases it is a non issue.

When the Detroit Red Wings were at their dominating best in the mid nineties, it was a group primarily made up of veteran players. The had Steve Yzerman as captain, and when he departed he was replaced by Nicklas Lidstrom. Yes they were the go to guys, but the team had so many leaders in the room it really was difficult to pick just one.

The same can be said for any team with good leadership. A captain is not necessarily defined by the letter they possess on their attire, but by how they lead, how they communicate and how they act both on and off the ice. This has been true for decades, yet in hockey so much is made of the team captaincy. With that in mind, lets examine the dilemma which befalls the Vancouver Canucks.

There has been a lot of ink lately used on the state of the team and their captain Roberto Luongo. Did the “C” last year affect his game. Was carrying the team too much to handle. My response is no and no. Since Luongo first set foot in Vancouver he has continually challenged himself and though not always successful in all his endeavours, you have to admire his dedication and willingness to do what it takes.

On the surface he was an odd choice to begin with, many would have gone to Willie Mitchell or maybe even Sami Salo, two veteran guys who have had lots of experience, but in the end even going with Mitchell would have brought up a new debate as he is now gone, so the torch would ultimately have to have been passed anyway.

The practice of naming a goaltender a captain is foreign to most, but it is not something which should be dismissed completely. He was at the time the best choice, the Sedins had not yet peaked and had not proven they were true leaders yet, Ryan Kesler hadn’t blossomed fully, so the options were few. Not to mention it was definitely a smart PR move on Gillis’ part. The NHL was aflutter when it was announced.

So now we come to today whee it has been learned that the issue of the captaincy will be evaluated next week. Gillis and Luongo will sit down and discuss the matter. We all know the power Mike Gillis holds within this organization and we all know the decision has already been made regarding this, and maybe its for the best because Luongo is the leader of this team no doubt about it, but the constant barrage of questions and reporters may be too much for him. Turning over the spotlight to someone more personable may be a good idea, but it doesn’t change the fact that this team will all know who the captain in the room is, no matter who is wearing the C.