After denying a newspaper report that Andrei Markov was offered, and turned down, the opportunity to become the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens, head coach Jacques Martin today announced that he will sit down with GM Bob Gainey and make a decision at the end of training camp, when they’ve had the opportunity to evaluate the players that they have.
However, that’s not to say that the Canadiens will emerge from pre-season play with a new captain to replace Saku Koivu, who is now a member of the Anaheim Ducks. What Martin and Gainey WILL do in the coming days is decide HOW they will deal with the issue, and what formula they will use. They could, of course, go in one of a number of directions.
Before we go there, however, a word or two about Andrei Markov.
Markov has worn the “A” for the Habs of late, but I don’t believe he is the locker-room leader this team needs. Having said that, there can be no denying what Markov means to this club.
Yes, he has been a member of the Canadiens during his entire 8-year NHL career, but that, alone, does not make him a leader.
Yes, on the ice, he is arguably Montreal’s best player. But that, alone, does not make him a leader.
Off the ice, Markov is the strong, silent type, although he has certainly come out of his shell when it comes to dealing with the media in recent season. However, and this is no slight on Markov, I don’t believe number 79 is the right man for this particular job, and he himself says he wants to focus on his on-ice performance.
So let’s move on.
Martin and Gainey could, in the short to medium term, decide to name three alternate captains who would wear the “A”, with no one wearing the “C”. Or, they could perhaps name different players to wear the “C” on a rotation basis.
Or, they could name a captain.
The Canadiens need a captain. They don’t need three alternates. They don’t need to start a “captain of the month” club. They need a captain. Someone to wear the “C”. On a full-time basis.
I have got to believe that, after training camp and seven pre-season games, Martin and Gainey will have a pretty good sense of the kind character they have on this team. A good sense of the players who are ready to grab the bull by the horns and take a leadership role on this club. It’s a decision that is not being taken lightly. In fact, it’s a decision that will be made by Martin, himself, and not voted on by the other players.
Martin wants to give his players a chance to showcase what they have — newcomers and veterans alike. He wants to take training camp to evaluate the kind of players the Canadiens have.
Take the time. Absolutely. Then make a decision. Don’t let this team start the season without a leader, without a captain, at a time when this team is crying out for leadership following a season of disappointment followed by an off-season of upheaval.
And another thing.
I don’t buy into the theory that you don’t name someone like Scott Gomez captain of the Canadiens because he doesn’t have any mileage with this team, this city, or this organization. So what? Does that make Scott Gomez any less of a leader just because he hasn’t done any leading as a member of the Habs?
Would you not consider Jaroslav Halak a good candidate to wear the “C”, because he is new to the Canadiens? What’s more important? The fact that Spacek has never worn a Habs jersey. Or the fact that when Spacek was part of Buffalo’s system of rotating captains a few years back, the veteran defenceman showed exemplary leadership qualities, took the time and effort to hold player meetings, and took the job very seriously. Because he didn’t do it with the CH on his chest, should that be held against him?
Having said all that, do either Gomez and Spacek, for example, deserve to wear the “C” with the Canadiens?
I don’t have the answer to that question. Not yet, at least. Neither, it would appear, do Jacques Martin or Bob Gainey. That’s why the Canadiens are going through this process in the first place, to get that point.
Let’s hope when the Canadiens DO get to that point, they have a new leader in place when the puck drops for real on the 2009-2010 NHL season.