Presenting the Montreal Canadiens 28th Captain
Alright folks, so we’re gone to game 17 and still no sign of a decision concerning the next Captain of the team.
Okay the head coach Jacques Martin might have a lot other concerns right now such as a power play which hasn’t scored in 13 straight opportunities, or the line-up in front of the infirmary.
But since we are proud to call speculation our second national discipline, let’s gear up for the search of the next leader who will endure the anger of the crowd and will be the first to be sacrificed during troubled times!
Presenting: Mike Cammalleri
He was an Alternate Captain with the Kings in 2007-08. In terms of statistics, we cannot complain. Usually averaging a point every other game, he has managed a streak of seven points in five games in October and is now leading the team with 14 in 16 games.
Last season, he was seven points short of Flames Captain Jarome Iginla to take on the lead; and has topped the Kings statistics in 2007-08.
Besides, have you heard the guy talk?
Here are a few examples:
In the Calgary Sun, on the matter of size in the NHL (when it has been pointed out that the Canadiens’ first line-up actually doesn’t go beyond 5’11”): "You measure a guy in feet and inches. If you measure the size of a guy or a team or a line's game, that's a whole other thing. What's the size of your game? Can you shoot the puck? Can you pass the puck? Can you win battles? Can you play well defensively? Now what's the size of your game?"
On The Hockey News, on his season with Jarome Iginla (which some bring up as the main reason he got 82 points): “In Hockey it is a constant team sport, and having the opportunity to learn and to work with your teammates is very important. So anytime you have success it is going to be in direct results with the guys you have played with.”
Now, of course as a Captain, you have to be able to be the voice of your team and face the Media scrutiny of Montreal. Cammalleri has been one of the most consistent players to give post game interviews.
Apart from the night of his first hat trick with the Habs, most of what he talked about went from the team’s performance to Carey Price.
The cons of him being a candidate is that he is a newcomer with the team. But then again, that is why the coach is giving it time.
Presenting: Brian Gionta
He currently is among the three players Jacques Martin has named Alternate Captains.
He fits the job if what we need is an example of determination. Being the second shortest player of the NHL at 5’7”, he has earned his way well into the league with a Stanley Cup ring and 312 points in 473 games so far.
He opened the score four times for Montreal. He scored the OT winner against the Buffalo Sabres last month. Finally, he came up with the game winner in shootout against the Atlanta Thrashers and has got two goals in the latest matchup between both teams, including the game tying one.
He additionally had two assists on two of Cammalleri’s goals during his hat trick night against the Rangers and earned the second star of the game.
Gionta has been the most scrutinized player to be named Captain of the team. So much that the night he scored the first and the shootout goals in the 2-1 win over Atlanta, I thought the deal was done, but Martin still seems to be in his observation process.
Finally, he and Scott Gomez have taken over Alexei Kovalev’s work with the Montreal Canadiens Foundation for Children; welcoming kids in their Bell Centre lounge during games.
Presenting: Scott Gomez
Bob Gainey was looking for a number one Center; and for the price he paid for this one, it seems he really was in a hurry – with all due respect to Gomez of course.
He earned the Calder Trophy when he broke into the NHL in 1999-2000; and played at the All Star Games. During the Devils run to the Stanley Cup, he has scored 3 goals and 9 assists in 24 games; and led the team in assists for the season.
Now, his arrival with the team had a bit of controversy due to the amount of money the team paid. Traded from the New York Rangers with Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto, he came with his $8,000,000 contract in return of Chris Higgins, Pavel Valentenko, Doug Janik and Ryan McDonagh.
In terms of dealing with the Press, Gomez has been called a “Journalist’s dream come true” by Mike Boone on HabsInsideOut.com; apparently due to his outgoing and very open personality.
He has received a great welcome from Habs fans who have been able to see how well he can play, with or without the puck. Call me nostalgic, but watching him work on the penalty kill sometimes reminded me of an Alexei Kovalev during his good days at the office. Okay, I will stop the sobbing.
Even this early in the season, Gomez has already seen what it is like to be in the middle of a rumoured controversy.
Apparently, Gomez and Sergei Kostitsyn had a fight during a team’s gathering; which was the main reason of Kostitsyn being assigned to the AHL. But the 30 year old Center just took it with a sense humour and kept things cool.
Presenting: Hum, Carey Price
Don’t laugh, don’t laugh. Okay, this one might seem to be right from lala-land where street lights are made of candy and it snows chocolate during winter.
But wouldn’t we expect from a Captain to be the dominant player of the team?
Now, who could play a bigger role than the goaltender, especially Price being thrown out there as the franchise player? That way, Martin can keep three “As” as well.
For the 22 year old goalie, a post as Captain would not be much different from the scrutiny he is already undergoing. However, there I said it; he is 22 and still has to learn a lot.
Additionally, it seems he has lost credibility after the off-ice controversy he was part of last year. His behaviour and work ethic has created a breach between himself and some fans.
A lot of work still has to be done for him to earn his way back into some hearts, but games like the one against Boston will certainly help.
Presenting: Tomas Plekanec
He has been a dark hero so far in the season. It is not that he doesn’t deserve attention; but the newcomers Gainey keeps bringing in are still attracting curiosity.
Now, there is a long time Montreal Canadiens player if the fact of having one of the new guys as Captain bugs you.
Having played his entire career with the Habs, he has kept improving starting from 29 points his first year, to 47 the second, and finally his career high of 69 points two years ago.
He was among the KPK line (Kovalev, Plekanec, Kostitsyn) as they were taking on the first line-up duty. Unfortunately, physical pressure against the Boston Bruins and then the Philadelphia Flyers gave him a hard time to the point of admitting that he was “playing like a little girl.”
Despite a tough season last year, he is on his way to a great one if he keeps the pace. So far, he is tied with Cammalleri with 14 points.
He looks like a discreet type of player, which in terms of charisma might not work. But if Andrei Markov has been asked, Plekanec might as well fit the job.
In the highs and lows the team has undergone so far, Plekanec is hanging in there with one or two points every two games and a plus 5 rating despite having almost half of the team switching back and forth on his wings.
Now, what is more fun than seeing the 5’11” player run into the crowd, standing up for his team? Of his eight minutes of penalty, four have been for roughing.
Well, someone has got to step up while Laraque is out!
Presenting: Josh Gorges
Talking about team leading experience and skills, he has plenty.
He was Captain of his WHL team, the Rockets in 2004 and led them towards the Memorial Cup. He also wore the “C” during the Canada-Russia challenge in 2003, for the WHL and was finally named rookie of the year in 2004 while playing for the AHL Cleveland Barrons.
He plays on an average of 21 minutes per game, and will see his responsibilities increase with the number of injured defensemen.
He scored his first goal of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and is currently among the three defensemen who have been able to hold their head above the negative rating.
Wait, No French Guys?
Now, I know what you are going to say.
None of those players speaks French; so to be fair, we will have a look on our possibilities.
Maxime Lapierre: he has earned the "pest" reputation; but has been accused by Pierre McGuire among others to avoid dropping gloves on occasions. He is usually a handfull of energy and has five points playing on the third line.
Guillaume Latendresse: he has shown signs of improvement for a few games this season but will have a lot to do before getting rid of the criticism over his speed and the physical aspects of the game. He has however experience with the Media attention of Montreal.
Georges Laraque: with all due respect I have for Laraque and the help he is occasionally bringing to the team, Montreal cannot afford to have a Captain on the sideline for most of the season. He has played 33 games last year, and is still dealing with back problems.
Marc Andre Bergeron: we will have to give him more time ...