The Montreal Canadiens: Who Will Lead Them?

Kevin van SteendelaarAnalyst IJuly 6, 2009

MONTREAL- APRIL 22:  Saku Koivu #11 of the Montreal Canadiens prepares for a faceoff during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on April 22, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 4-1 winning the series 4-0.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Well, the Montreal Canadiens roster officially got trimmed by one more player.

Despite a “rally of the masses” on Sunday afternoon at the Bell Centre, Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey told CJAD radio on Monday that Alex Kovalev would not be returning.

 Fans rallied Sunday to keep Alex Kovalev in Montreal

Hours later, Kovalev took the money—$10 million over two years—and ran up the highway to the Ottawa Senators.

The Northeast Division will be fun to watch this season, without a doubt.

With Kovalev’s departure and the likely signing of Saku Koivu to either Buffalo, Atlanta, Anaheim, or whatever square Eklund’s rumor dart hit this afternoon, this leaves the captain and all the assistant captains from last season's team off to greener pastures. Mike Komisarek defected to the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1 and Christopher Higgins was traded to the New York Rangers on June 30.

The question now has to be asked, who will be the next captain?

Andrei Markov has been an assistant captain in the past, but is unlikely to be captain. You have to remember that Koivu was criticized for not speaking French. Markov can barely speak English so it’s safe to rule him out. The Kostitsyn brothers? Georges Laraque ? Forget it!

Scott Gomez seems to be an early popular choice, despite not playing one game for the Canadiens. Sorry Mr. Gomez, but there’s too much tradition to just walk in and take the “C." Ditto for Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta.

In all likelihood two of these three will be alternate captains.

Young bucks Josh Gorges, Maxim Lapierre, and maybe Guillaume Latendresse would be good choices as an alternate captains in my opinion, but I feel none of this trio is at a full leadership level.

Roman Hamrlik is the long-time veteran on the team, but could be moved before the start of the season.

In any event, the Canadiens have never gone without a captain in their history.

1262a-Jean-Beliveau Jean Beliveau is the Canadiens’ longest-serving captain

The captaincy of the Montreal Canadiens has always been voted on by the players, so ultimately it will be up to the final roster when it is set sometime in late September. The players may elect to go a shared route in the 2009-10 season. Guy Carbonneau and Chris Chelios alternated months in the 1989-90 season when the team vote was as close as the Quebec Referendum vote.

Either way, that individual is the go-to man for the fans and media of a team, with 100 years of history and 16 years and counting without a Stanley Cup. Preferably, I want a long-standing captain like Koivu—win or lose—and not a revolving door that we saw in the mid-90s.

Let’s not rule out the current captain just yet, shall we?

List of Montreal Canadiens Captains

Jack Laviolette           1909-10Emile Bouchard                    1948-56
Newsy Lalonde            1910-11Maurice Richard                   1956-60
Jack Laviolette           1911-12Doug Harvey                        1960-61
Newsy Lalonde            1912-13Jean Beliveau                       1961-71
Jimmy Gardner           1913-15Henri Richard                       1971-75
Howard McNamara      1915-16Yvan Cournoyer                    1975-79
Newsy Lalonde            1916-22Serge Savard                       1979-81
Sprague Cleghorn        1922-25Bob Gainey                          1981-89
Billy Coutu                  1925-26G. Carbonneau/C. Chelios    1989-90
Sylvio Mantha             1926-32Guy Carbonneau                   1990-94
George Hainsworth     1932-33Kirk Muller                           1994-95
Sylvio Mantha             1933-36Mike Keane          Apr – Dec       1995
Albert “Babe” Seibert  1936-39Pierre Turgeon                     1995-96
Walter Buswell            1939-40Vincent Damphousse             1996-99
Hector “Toe” Blake     1940-48Saku Koivu                           1999-??
Bill Durnan    Jan – Apr      1948