Colorado Avalanche: Why Paul Stastny Could Be the Next Captain

Kevin GoffContributor IAugust 17, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 01:  Paul Stastny #26 of the Colorado Avalanche awaits a face off during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on April 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Avalanche defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in an overtime shoot out.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome back to the third part of my series on potential captains for the Colorado Avalanche.

To this point we have discussed Milan Hejduk and Erik Johnson as potential successors to Adam Foote as team captain. Today we will deal with Paul Stastny.

Paul Stastny has played his entire career with the Avalanche to this point and has been a very consistent offensive force since he burst onto the scene with 28 goals and 78 points in his rookie year.

Before everybody starts crying foul and pointing out what a horribly inconsistent season Stastny had last season, take a moment to think about the fact that in his five NHL seasons, only once has Stastny not hit the 20-goal mark.

The only season he didn't hit 20 goals Stastny missed the whole second half of the season and was the team's leading scorer at the time of his injury.

It's hard to blame a guy for having an off year on a team that was decimated by injury the way the Avalanche were this season, especially since Stastny did still produce, falling only three points shy of 60.

In addition to his consistency, Stastny also has the respect of the locker room. The fact that he has served as an alternate captain for the Avalanche for the last couple of seasons, and at such a young age, speaks very highly of his leadership abilities.

Stastny showed leadership during the historically bad losing streak the Avalanche went through last season when he led a team meeting in the middle of practice to try and remind the team that the only way to get through things was together.

Plus, Paul Stastny is the team's first-line center and has been for about three years now. He's handled the time on the top line very well and has produced—only two of his five years (one of which he was injured half of the season) has he failed to reach 70 points.

With his position on the team it isn't inaccurate to say that the offense really goes through Stastny and that fact alone could be considered captain-worthy.

He also doesn't let things distract him. After the Avalanche traded Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk, Paul's father (Peter Stastny) popped off at the mouth saying that the Avalanche had set the franchise back a couple of years.

Stastny could have used this as an out as trade rumors immediately surfaced around him, but Stastny kept coming to work and putting in the same effort as always. He never showed any doubt in his team or tried to blame anybody, he just tried to lead by example.

Now it was no doubt that everybody on the Avalanche had a bad season last year, with the exception of second year star Matt Duchene. Though Stastny had a year of inconsistencies, he still was among the team leaders in points scored and managed to stay fairly close to his career mark of 70 points.

His dad's comments could hurt his cause to be captain, however. Not because the Avalanche care about what his daddy thinks but because his father happens to be a legend of the Nordique franchise and has the ear of a large number of hockey fans and organizations.

It would not look good for the Avalanche to have his legendary father making such comments, especially if Paul were to be named captain.

In conclusion, Paul Stastny is a consistent, hard working, well respected leader in the Avalanche locker room.

The respect that his teammates have given him and the leadership that he has already shown at such a young age all make Paul Stastny a very strong candidate for captain of the Colorado Avalanche.