Ever since Joe Thornton was stripped of the captaincy position prior to the 2014-15 season, the question of who is the leader of the San Jose Sharks has surrounded this hockey team.
Earlier this summer, Peter DeBoer mentioned he was confident the Sharks would have a new captain in place before the start of the 2015-16 season. Today, we take a look at five candidates for the captaincy position with the San Jose Sharks as training camp opens later today..
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5. Paul Martin
Martin would be an interesting choice for captain as he would be a new face entering the mix. Martin is widely respected across the league and has played in a variety of different places and situations. Martin was brought in this offseason to help solidify the blue line, and he brings leadership qualities as well.
While Martin isn’t the most outspoken guy, he’s someone who could come in and be the leader of a group that could use a new direction. Now I don’t think Martin will be the choice, but he’s definitely someone who you’ll hear about in any potential leadership group or committee in San Jose.
4. Logan Couture
Couture is intriguing for the fact that you always seem to hear his name mentioned as one of the best players on the San Jose Sharks, but he’s often overlooked by his peers. Couture always appears the odd-man out when it comes to the assignment of letters.
Couture is someone who would be perfectly suited for the role as he’s always one who stands up and faces the music after tough losses. His stoic nature in response is perfect for a captain, and he still plays with that chip on his shoulder as he’s still trying to prove his worth. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have your best players in leadership roles, and Couture was second on the team with 67 points a season ago with another big season expected in 2015-16.
Again, Couture will likely be passed over for the captaincy position, but he could be in line for an alternate status, potentially elevating him to the captaincy position later down the line.
3. Marc-Edouard Vlasic
It’s crazy to think Vlasic will be entering his 10th season in the NHL, and he’s developed into one of the best, shutdown defensemen in the league. He’s definitely the most consistent player on the San Jose defense, and he’s someone who likes to tell it straight with his own play and the play of his teammates.
Vlasic has grown into a greater leadership role as the years have gone by, and he’s tough to argue with when he performs on a nightly basis. San Jose needs a captain who will go out and prove it after the debacle of last season, and Vlasic is someone who can do just that.
2. Joe Thornton
Regardless of who is selected as the next captain, Thornton’s name will always be associated with the position. While Thornton should never have been replaced to begin with, it’s going to be fascinating to see if DeBoer elects to go with Thornton as his captain.
Thornton is still the face of the franchise and continues to play at a high level, despite his down season last year. He’s a possession and shot-generating machine for the Sharks and can still get it done at the NHL level.
The biggest questions with Thornton is his relationship with general manager Doug Wilson and how he relates with the younger players that are coming through San Jose. Will the Sharks decide to put the “C” back on Thornton and admit it was a mistake to remove it in the first place or will they decide to go with someone who is signed longer-term and can relate better with the entire roster as whole?
Regardless, “Jumbo Joe” will always be in a leadership role with the Sharks as he won’t be leaving the spotlight any time soon.
1. Joe Pavelski
After Thornton was stripped last year, Pavelski became the de-facto face and voice of the franchise. For the second consecutive season, Pavelski led the Sharks in points and goals scored. He’s developed into a more vocal leader, as evidenced by his expletive-laden tirade after the first period against the Arizona Coyotes in February.
With San Jose trailing 2-0 after a disastrous first period, Pavelski laid into his teammates and then led the comeback himself. Pavelski registered a hat trick in leading the San Jose Sharks to victory.
The only thing working against Pavelski is the interesting dynamic that might emerge between him and Thornton. They’ve developed an outstanding chemistry and partnership together and one has to wonder whether that would be affected if Pavelski is named as Thornton’s replacement.
It’s always good to have your best players being your best leaders, and in this case, Pavelski would fit the bill. He’s likely the leader in the clubhouse heading into the upcoming season.