Captain America: Can Brian Gionta Survive As Montreal Canadiens Captain?

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Captain America: Can Brian Gionta Survive As Montreal Canadiens Captain?
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Gionta tries out for the US Olympic team

In a city where the press and the fans love to eat their own young alive, the life expectancy of the new Montreal Canadiens’ captain looks short. Once a sinecure for hall of famers the Montreal Canadiens’ captaincy has become an electric chair.

During the 90’s les habitants worked their way through six captains who were all traded away. Chris Chelios was made the first American born co-captain with Carbonneau, and a year later he was off to Chicago in the Dennis Savard trade. Carbonneau was left as sole captain but then, in the midst of a scandal, was dumped to St Louis for Jim Montgomery.  Then it was Muller to the Islanders for Turgeon and Keane to Colorado in the Patrick Roy deal. Finally Turgeon himself was sent to the Blues for Shayne Corson. Vincent Damphousse hung on for three years, but then was traded to the Sharks for a first round pick who turned out to be Marcel Hossa. It took Saku Koivu to stop the captaincy from being a ticket out of town.  

Saku Koivu was the longest serving Montreal Canadiens’ captain after Jean Beliveau. He struggled with a myriad of injuries and Cancer while attempting to live up to being a first round habs draft pick and their first European captain. Despite that, the trilingual Koivu took abuse at the hands of the Parti Quebecois as they made a cause célèbre out of the fact that Koivu did not address the Montreal fans at a ceremony in french. 

How will the Anglophone Gionta fare?

The boos have started already for young Carey Price as the fans have given up on him early in this season’s first exhibition game. Will Gionta be next?   

Brian has the virtue of a long term contract which should keep him in Montreal until 2014.  He’s also a small, fast, talented player. Those have always been well regarded in Montreal. The skilled little guy who gets past and outwits his bigger stronger opponent has always been very popular with the fans in Quebec. Joliat, Morenz, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Mats Naslund and Koivu were all loved by most of the fan base. Hopefully the diminutive Gionta can tap into that reservoir of regard for the little guy.

If he does maybe he can convince the Montreal fans to ease up on Carey Price. Price is the only game in town and eating your young in this situation will leave the team without a goalie for years to come. Hopefully Montreal is not looking for a new goalie and a new captain this time next year.   

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