Oye, Oye, (No) Captain?!: Montreal Canadiens Return To The Ice

Aleksander BeauboisCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - FEBRUARY 27:  Andrei Markov #79 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 27, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Habs defeated the Flyers 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In this town, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

Welcome back to hockey season in Montreal, the city's who's motto "la ville est hockey" is more of a commandment than a commercial slogan. Its a city which has its politics served on the rocks, that is, on the ice.

Today's theme, nothing new—the captaincy.

Following the departure of long serving leader Saku Koivu, the vacancy of the C is a glaring one to all—To all except the players.

The media has been abuzz in trying to determine who should be nominated and when. Each lobby group has their endorsement.

Many of the Francophone contingent have voiced the merits, largely lingual, of the young blue collared Maxim Lapierre.

Another young player though a long shot, Josh Gorges, was praised by his ex-teammate Tom Kostopoulos as being worthy of the honour for his exceptional leadership presence in the locker room.

Proponents of the new school suggest either one of Montreal's new speedy forwards, Gomez, Cammalleri or Gionta.

Finally, there are the supporters of the old guard who believe that Andrei Markov is deserved of the nomination.

And then, the apocalypse.

It was reported today by The Gazette's Pat Hickey that Habs' stud veteran blue liner, refused the honour of adorning his jersey with the tradition-laden C.

And so it is that in this bi-partisan city, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.

Markov's selection, considering his tenure, production and on-ice example, was a sign of respect for his significant contributions to the club.  And a deserved one. Had he been bypassed, most would have noted that he should have been considered, if only symbolically. And so he was.

And so, as most would have predicted, he declined.

Markov is reputed for being a shy individual in the public eye. A player who albeit has opened up to the media in successive years, remains a closed and private person particularly in the face of the fishbowl scrutiny that is the Canadiens locker room.

As such, he is either unwilling or unable to hold a permanent post in the spotlight of camera flashes and microphones, in either French or English. Had he accepted, his selection would have been condemned by many, and surely by those of the French camp that beleaguered Captain Koivu for his reserved use of the native tongue of the province.

Could Markov expect any different treatment?

Even the aforementioned newcomers were aware of the animosity they could encounter from some in the French media for language related issues, and all have been quick to stress their commendable intentions of learning the language in the near future.

The quiet Russian chose the realistic and pragmatic option, gladly or reluctantly we will never know, and declined the honour.

And yet, when the high road was taken, by the team in offering him the C, and by Markov in declining it, there are those perpetually unappeased.

In fact, the media today, on both French and English radio and TV waves, discussed, some with abomination, whether a player even has the right to refuse.

And yet imagine the circus that would ensue following the new Captain's shy mumble of Slavic-accented English in the first interview had he accepted!

The Canadiens should wait to see who will emerge as their principal leader, and in the meantime rely on the collective effort of the freshly assembled franchise.

Maybe without the C for now, the old CH, could focus on the H instead, and just play Hockey for a change. 


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