Canucks captain candidates

Who’s Canucks Captain And Where Lies The Leadership?

Elias Pettersson’s decision to put off considering a new contract with the Canucks throws a bit of a wrench into some of the club’s other decision making. That includes who to name as the team’s 15th captain in history.

“Petey” would have been a favourite, J.T. Miller ranks right up there, and over the last ten months, Quinn Hughes has started to make a lot more sense as the choice. It took awhile for him to not seem completely disinterested in speaking with the media. Likely just part of maturation and getting more comfortable with the process. At this point, the Canucks soon-to-be 24-year-old star blueliner appears ready for that next step. He wore an “A” for part of last season.

Speaking of the media, if Miller is willing and able to take on the grind of being the unofficial team spokesman on a consistent basis, particularly when things aren’t going so well, he’s the number-one choice for the gig in terms of entertainment. He’s also a productive, seasoned veteran who has seven years left on his Canucks contract.

We’d never be short of quotables. The question is whether or not he could stand the mundane and repetitious nature of it, plus the sometimes downright obnoxious or misinformed queries. That actually might make it even more entertaining. Forget ‘patience is a virtue’. Without it, his snarky retorts might increase, as would the level of amusement.

Meanwhile, could planting the “C” on Pettersson be used as some sort of negotiating leverage or just turn into a source of embarrassment if he moves on from Vancouver.

Ultimately Hughes fits the bill. He has the bloodlines and four years remaining on his current contract. His dad Jim, very active in the daily lives of his hockey playing sons, is a former US college captain and Quinn’s confidant.

Canucks Leadership

From a long term leadership standpoint, the Canucks roster is surprisingly stark.

Yes, 34-year-old defenceman Ian Cole has “been there, done that”, but he’s around on a one-year deal and of course he’s getting up there. He’d make a fine short-term alternate.

Where do the Canucks Russians fit in? Namely Andrei Kuzmenko.

Alexander Ovechkin could hardly speak English his rookie season. I recall keeping it very simple with him during a TV walk-off interview between periods in 2006. He was named captain of the Washington Capitals three years later. Canucks forward Kuzmenko might be a bit effervescent for a formal leadership position, but his actions speak louder than words and the entertainment factor definitely exists.

We’re not talking captain here, we’re talking leadership in general and potential alternates.

Conor Garland garners consideration given his style of play and determination, regardless of whether or not many around town would prefer he and his contract were sent packing.

Tyler Myers. Continuing with an “A”, yes, but ba-bye at some point or another.

Carson Soucy? Newbie with limited experience. Nope. Brock Boeser? Based on local longevity only.

The rest of the roster is a hodgepodge of ages and experience levels. Eleven Canucks will play this season on expiring contracts. Twelve if you count either of the likely back-up goalies.

Aside from long-term-injured-reserve candidate Tanner Pearson, the Canucks have a grand total of one Stanley Cup winner on their healthy roster, Ian Cole. Matt Irwin has been to a Final.

In contrast, the 3rd-year Seattle Kraken franchise, with a healthy Andre Burakovsky, have seven Cup champions, a third of their playing roster.

Coach’s Role

Long gone are the days when the head coach can be the spiritual and/or emotional leader of an NHL club; a man full of rage and motivation. Think of Mike Milbury with the Bruins. Prior to becoming a not-very-successful NHL general manager, Milbury was a catalyst, an energetic spearhead as a bench boss.

And while puppy gloves and modern communication might rule interactions these days, it doesn’t hurt having a straightforward, no nonsense coach leading his charges. Anger in its many forms can stimulate results. Rick Tocchet can walk that fine line between ire and frustration if need be. For the sake of Canucks fans, hopefully things go smoothly and he’s not confronted with those emotions over the long run.

The transitional element of the Canucks roster and franchise continues as it relates to this very important intangible. As depth of skill continues to establish itself, so must leadership and culture.


— Canucks Weekender: Woof Woof, Big $$

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.