With all of the news around the NHL surrounding the impending lockout, and all of the news surrounding the Colorado Avalanche revolving around when Ryan O'Reilly will be signed, today's announcement by the Avalanche qualifies as a bit of a bombshell.
The Avalanche have named second-year star Gabriel Landeskog captain after a fantastic rookie season.
This makes Landeskog the youngest captain in the league, and the youngest in the history of the NHL at just 19 years and 286 days old, according to the team.
It's fair to say that this news is a bit of a surprise, especially since we all know that Milan Hejduk, the team's previous captain, had been signed for another season early in the summer.
According to the team's press release (via Avalanche.nhl.com), "Hejduk informed the coaching staff that he was relinquishing his role" as team captain, which led coach Joe Sacco to this spot.
First impressions on this are that Hejduk made absolutely the right move and this was actually something that I discussed on The Burgundy Brigade Podcast a couple of months ago.
Since being named captain last season, Hejduk really wasn't productive, got dropped to the fourth line, saw his ice-time diminish to under 10 minutes per game and just looked old for the first time in his career.
It was time for him to step up to his teammates and say that it wasn't his time to be the leader anymore, it was time for the young core to take on the leadership role of this team and move ahead with it, and that seems to be exactly what he did.
Second, people might wonder why on earth Ryan O'Reilly wouldn't have been named captain? He has been the fan's clear choice since about November of last season.
That question can likely be answered by the fact that he is still in a contract dispute with the team.
If O'Reilly and the Avalanche weren't still trying to figure out the years on his contract, it's quite possible that Sacco sends the C over to him.
Third, this is still the right move for the next captain. It's a little bit earlier than really anybody would likely have expected, but it's the right move.
Ever since people were touting Landeskog as one of the top prospects coming into the NHL Entry Draft, one of the first things people would mention about him is his leadership ability and how he was destined to become an NHL captain.
His play on the ice and the way he carries himself off the ice only furthered this assertion as people saw how calm, collected, mature and intense this young man is. You just had the feeling that, despite the fact he can't yet legally drink in the United States, you were standing in the presence of a leader.
Some guys this age would shrink under the pressure of being told you are the face of the franchise at this young of an age, but Landeskog is the right type of person for this.
He's the type of person that wants this kind of responsibility and it will elevate his game. It will make him feel bigger, play better, work harder and be more vocal.
The team will want to begin to rally around him and play the game like him, and that is absolutely what you want out of your captain.
Milan Hejduk was absolutely right to step down, and Gabriel Landeskog is the perfect choice to be the captain of this young team.
This will be the first year of what will be a long reign for Landeskog as the captain of the Colorado Avalanche.
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