For multiple reasons, now is not the time to name the new captain of the Vancouver Canucks.
Quite frankly it doesn’t make any sense, despite the fact outgoing captain Bo Horvat thinks his fellow NHL All-Star Elias Pettersson would be the perfect choice.
“He’d be my vote if it came to it and I’m sure one of these days it’s going to go on his chest,” Horvat said on Thursday at the NHL All-Star media day. “So, if it does, I couldn’t be more happy for him and he’s obviously going to be a great captain.
“He’s grown even more this year with his leadership on the ice,” Horvat continued. “He’s starting to say stuff in the room, and he’s really come into his own this year. I can’t say enough good stuff about ‘Petey’, the way he’s played this year and the way he handles himself, and he’s emerging as a great leader and a great player and I’m sure he’s going to take on a bigger role here, an even bigger role than he already has.”
Tells you a little bit about Canucks locker room dynamics, doesn’t it?
So let’s just get this straight. The club is going to name ‘Petey’ the new captain despite the fact his contract expires after next season and he’s not eligible to begin potential re-negotiations until the end of this one. It might be a good idea to have a long term deal in place, rather than risk having an interim captain.
Also, from a leverage standpoint, why would the Canucks put itself in a position of having to negotiate with its captain, rather than a guy who hasn’t been given that honour yet.
There’s a very, very good chance Canucks management will empty the vault to keep Pettersson, for his many on-ice talents and also to prevent a (bigger) fan revolt. There’s also a good chance Petey would relish being the king of the castle.
However, one might recall CAA agent Pat Brisson took a hard line in matters prior to last season when both Pettersson and Quinn Hughes missed head coach Travis Green’s final training camp while waiting on new contracts. It led to Pettersson’s very slow start and concerns about his “struggles”.
In hindsight, it may have cost Green his job and the Canucks their season.
Who knows, this time it might just lead to an impasse and a bye bye to Pettersson. Depending on what else happens between now and July, player and agent might decide they want to test the free agent market at the end of the 2023-’24 season.
Umm, there’s also this other somewhat major element that goes by the name of J.T. Miller.
He does already have a long term contract, seven more years worth, he definitely is a veteran presence, and he does indeed love to lead whether others like it or not. He might be an outstanding captain, he might not be.
Who knows, it might settle him down in some way, shape or form.
Again, locker room dynamics, one of the many great intangibles in hockey, will help determine how this plays out. One just can’t imagine Miller being ignored in the process.
Any other candidates? Hughes seems to enjoy speaking to the media about as much as you’d enjoy a root canal. Does that rule him out? In general, he just doesn’t seem the type.
That leaves Pettersson and Miller as the only real alternatives in this scenario.
Regardless, the Canucks should get through this mess of a season before they do anything rash by placing a “C”.