Being named the captain of an NHL team is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a player. A hockey captain is a special kind of player, and not everyone is up to the task.
Ice hockey captains do not look quite like other captains. In other sports, such as American football, the team captains wear a "C" on their jersey. But with American football, most teams have not one captain but several.
In hockey, one player—and one player only—is given the honor of having the "C" placed on his sweater. There may be one or two alternate captains who get to wear the well recognized "A" on their jersey, but the man wearing the "C" is different—and everyone knows it.
This is one of the main reasons the captain of a hockey team is, arguably, more important than the captain, or captains, of teams in other major sports. In football or basketball, the team captain(s) is quite often the superstar of the team, or the best player or perhaps even the most marketable.
In hockey, the team captain might not be close to being considered the best player on the team. Very frequently in hockey, the team captain is not the best skater, the best scorer or the toughest guy on the team.
The single most important trait of a great hockey captain is that he leads. He leads by example on the ice, and he leads by example off the ice.
While captains in other sports are certainly leaders in their own right, only in hockey can that leadership be merged directly with the ability to influence a game.
Being the captain of a hockey team is also not a task to be taken on lightly. The captain is usually the one to speak up for his team and defend their actions. This requires a level of confidence that most other players just don't have.
All of this leadership and responsibility makes the man. It is like a sword being forged and molded out of metal. Some men stand up to the process better than others.
As for the Washington Capitals, 14 men have worn the "C" as captain of the team. Some have done a better job than others. All 14 men have faced tasking circumstances to say the least.
Which ones have been the best? Which men were able to rise to the challenge better than the others?
Here are the five greatest captains in the history of the Washington Capitals.