Being a captain in the sport of hockey is one of the greatest honors at any level of play. In the NHL, a captain takes on an even greater role.
This position does not require that you are your team's best player, only that you are worthy and capable of leading. Responsibilities include keeping the team focused yet loose, working to clear any issues in the room both with players and coaches, and representing the team on and off the ice.
While there are captains in other sports, NHL captaincy has influenced other leagues. In recent years, both the NFL and MLB have made on-jersey captain's logos more prominent.
The idea was presented to me recently to rank all of the NHL captains. My first thought was, "well that should be easy for the teams that don't have one...then what?"
After giving it some thought, I came up with this list. What I've done is ranked the captains based on a few categories: career accomplishments, what he means to his team, and league-wide perception.
Without a doubt, you will disagree with at least one player's placement on the list. You are more than welcome to let me know why in the comments.
Because I have respect for any NHL captain, I have done my best to avoid dwelling on shortcomings of these players. After all, if an NHL dressing room respects these guys, then we should too.
The Florida Panthers do not currently have a Captain.
The Colorado Avalanche do not currently have a Captain.
Career Accomplishments: Over 300 games and over 200 points.
What He Means To His Team: Streit is a talented defenseman making a return after missing an entire season.
League-wide Perception: Streit is a new captain looking to help the Islanders return to relevance and the playoffs.
Career Accomplishments: Over 700 games, nearly 500 points, and over 1,000 PIM.
What He Means To His Team: Morrow has spent his entire career with the Stars, combining scoring touch and tough play.
League-wide Perception: Morrow is a long-time captain on a team that is finding a new direction.
Career Accomplishments: Over 300 games, over 200 points, and 500 PIM.
What He Means To His Team: Backes has spent his entire career with the Blues, developing into a multi-facted player.
League-wide Perception: Backes is a captain who is trying to bring St. Louis back to the playoffs.
Career Accomplishments: Two Stanley Cups, over 400 games, and over 200 points.
What He Means To His Team: Ladd is the first captain of the resurrected Winnipeg Jets, carrying over from his time in Atlanta.
League-wide Perception: Ladd's leadership will be needed as the franchise attempts to emerge from the Thrasher years.
Career Accomplishments: Over 450 games and over 350 points.
What He Means To His Team: Pominville has played for the Sabres his entire career and will now serve as the leader during the Terry Pegula era.
League-wide Perception: A new captain, Pominville may benefit from the new ownership situation and a new found willingness to assemble as good a team as possible.
Career Accomplishments: Over 400 games and over 300 points.
What He Means To His Team: Koivu is the first permanent captain in team history.
League-wide Perception: Koivu comes from a great hockey lineage and represents his team well.
Career Accomplishments: Nearly 700 games, over 400 points, and 400 PIM.
What He Means To His Team: A veteran captain, Horcoff is on a team filling its roster with young, talented players.
League-wide Perception: He may not be around when the Oilers step back to greatness, but Horcoff will help mold the players who will be.
Career Accomplishments: Calder Trophy, five-time All-Star, over 1,000 games and points.
What He Means To His Team: Alfredsson is a sniper with leadership skills.
League-wide Perception: Alfredsson is viewed as a talented player that has not been able to translate that talent into postseason team success. Sadly, his best days in Ottawa (and possibly in general) are behind him.
Career Accomplishments: Two-time All-star, nearly 500 games, over 250 points, and over 600 PIM.
What He Means To His Team: The Captain of any Maple Leafs team has large skates to fill, but if Phaneuf's group can bring the Leafs back to contention his stock will rise.
League-wide Perception: Phaneuf is a talented defenseman in a high-pressure situation.
Career Accomplishments: Nearly 300 games and nearly 150 points.
What He Means To His Team: Callahan's selection as captain represents a return to hard-nosed hockey.
League-wide Perception: Callahan is a new captain that will attempt to lead the Rangers in a new direction.
Career Accomplishments: Over 400 games and over 300 points.
What He Means To His Team: Parise is an American-born player tasked with stabilizing the dressing room of a team that has some solvency issues.
League-wide Perception: Parise is a new captain that is considered one of the best American-born players in the NHL.
Career Accomplishments: One-time All-star, around 500 games, and 300 points.
What He Means To His Team: Brown is a leader that proves that being a great player is not all about statistics.
League-wide Perception: Brown organizes a wildly talented team that may fly under the radar in its own market, but faces high expectations around the league.
Career Accomplishments: One Rocket Richard Trophy, five-time All-Star, around 600 games and 500 points.
What He Means To His Team: Nash is the face of a franchise trying to produce a season that captivates fans in Columbus.
League-wide Perception: Nash is a remarkable goal scorer whose talents may be wasted in his current situation.
Career Accomplishments: Two-time All-Star, one King Clancy Trophy, over 1,100 games, over 700 points, and over 1,000 PIM.
What He Means To His Team: Doan is a respected veteran that bridges the franchise gap from its time as the original Winnipeg Jets.
League-wide Perception: Doan is a veteran leader that deserves to play for the Stanley Cup.
Career Accomplishments: One Stanley Cup, over 600 games, and over 400 points.
What He Means To His Team: Gionta is the first American to solely hold the Captaincy of the Montreal Canadiens, but any Captain of the Habs will face intense scrutiny.
League-wide Perception: Gionta is a Stanley Cup winner that is attempting to use his leadership to return the Stanley Cup to Canada.
Career Accomplishments: One Hart Trophy, one Art Ross Trophy, two-time All-Star, over 800 games, nearly 700 points.
What He Means To His Team: Sedin is a classy leader in the mold of Markus Naslund.
League-wide Perception: Sedin is viewed as one of the most skilled players in the league.
Career Accomplishments: One Stanley Cup, two-time All-Star, nearly a point a game player in over 400 games.
What He Means To His Team: Getzlaf is thought of to take over for Scott Niedermayer.
League-wide Perception: Getzlaf is a player that is tasked with leading the Ducks forward as the core from the Stanley Cup team moves on.
Career Accomplishments: Six-time All-Star, one Art Ross Trophy, one Hart Trophy nearly 1,000 games, and 1,000 points.
What He Means To His Team: Thornton is a player that has helped the San Jose Sharks rise to the NHL's top tier.
League-wide Perception: Thornton is an aging leader that deserves a crack at Stanley.
Career Accomplishments: One Stanley Cup, two-time All-Star, one Conn Smythe Trophy, over 300 games, nearly 300 points.
What He Means To His Team: Toews is the young leader on a resurgent Original Six team.
League-wide Perception: Toews is a player that will end up among the great leaders in the game's history.
Career Accomplishments: Four-time All-Star, the Calder Trophy, two Lester B. Pearson Awards, one Ted Lindsay Award, two Hart Trophies, one Art Ross Trophy, two Rocket Richard Trophies, nearly 400 games, over 600 points.
What He Means To His Team: Ovechkin has excited the Caps fanbase and is a player that must be watched at all times.
League-wide Perception: Ovechkin would benefit from postseason success, but is a dynamic player that gives his all.
Career Accomplishments: One Stanley Cup, one Rocket Richard Trophy, one Art Ross Trophy, one Lester B. Pearson Trophy, one Hart Trophy, four-time All-Star, two Mark Messier Leadership Awards, over 400 games, nearly 600 points.
What He Means To His Team: Crosby helped bring the franchise out of the pre-lockout years to a Stanley Cup Championship.
League-wide Perception: Sid the Kid would be higher on the list, but whether right or wrong, many in the league view him negatively.
Career Accomplishments: One Stanley Cup, four-time All-star, one Rocket Richard Trophy, one King Clancy Trophy, over 900 games, nearly 800 points.
What He Means To His Team: Lecavalier helped turn an expansion team into Stanley Cup Champions.
League-wide Perception: With the end closer than the beginning, Lecavalier is nearing elder statesman territory.
Career Accomplishments: Two-time All-Star, over 400 games, over 200 points, over 300 PIM.
What He Means To His Team: Weber is the heart and soul of the Preds on and off the ice.
League-wide Perception: Weber is a well-respected player in an expansion city. If ownership does not help him win, players would be thrilled to see him come to their team.
Career Accomplishments: One Stanley Cup, four-time All-star, 500 career games and points.
What He Means To His Team: Staal is the face of the franchise in Carolina.
League-wide Perception: Staal is one of the most respected players of the post-lockout era.
Career Accomplishments: One Stanley Cup, five-time All-Star, one Norris Trophy, the Mark Messier Leadership Award, nearly 1,000 games, nearly 1,400 PIM.
What He Means To His Team: Because of his size and toughness, Chara is a firm leader.
League-wide Perception: By capturing a Stanley Cup Chara improved his league-wide perception, but he has always been respected and feared.
Career Accomplishments: One Stanley Cup, six-time All-Star, one Norris Trophy, one Hart Trophy, over 1,100 games, and over 1,500 PIM.
What He Means To His Team: Pronger represents a fresh start for a franchise with their eye on the present and the future.
League-wide Perception: Pronger is a throwback-type player.
Career Accomplishments: Six-time All-Star, two Rocket Richard Trophies, one Art Ross Trophy, one Lester B. Pearson Award, one King Clancy Trophy, the Mark Messier Leadership Award, over 1,100 games, and over 1,000 points.
What He Means To His Team: Despite near-constant rumors of trades, Iginla has always been a stoic leader.
League-wide Perception: Iginla is viewed as a modern-day Gordie Howe.
Career Accomplishments: four Stanley Cups, 12-time All-Star, seven Norris Trophies, one Conn Smythe, over 1,400 games, and over 1,100 points.
What He Means To His Team: Aside from his excellence, Lidstrom has bridged the gap between past Red Wing greats and the current day group.
League-wide Perception: Lidstrom is an unquestioned future hall of famer.