Unless you fell into a ravine sometime in June, you are aware that the Sabres are currently captainless. If you actually did just get out of a ravine, we’re glad you’re safe, but the Sabres are captainless.
So, we’ve decided to go through Lindy’s options for captaincy, starting with my favorite pick, Paul Gaustad. We will continue to make a case for players until Lindy makes it official, the logic being that if we write about everyone, we can’t be wrong.
So with Denny Green in mind, let’s “Crown ‘Em!“
Reasons Goose Should Be Crowned
-Plays like this. The first 40 seconds of the video shows my point. Goose is the first person to go after Ovechkin following the hit, coming right off the bench without hesitation. Regardless of how blown out of proportion the matter became, Gaustad took immediate action to defend his team’s skill player. Gaustad is not an enforcer in any regard, but he will stick up for his team when given proper reason. I want a player like that leading my team.
-He cares about youth literacy
-Goose is willing to work hard. I know it sounds like common sense, but when your leader is seen putting in the extra effort, it makes an impact on the rest of the team. How many times have you seen him on the ice before warm ups shooting pucks at the net? He’s always one of the last players off the ice, and many nights he leads the team’s pregame drills. A captain should be highly visible, respected, and well liked. Just watching him in training camp tells you he fits all three. What other Sabre comes back from a “season ending” leg injury just because he hoped to make an impact in the playoffs?
-He cuddles like a champion.*
-He is willing to work with younger players. Goose has only played two years at the NHL level, so he not only relates to the younger players, but understands the change from AHL to NHL styles. A perfect example of this is Goose in practice:
Last Saturday after the Columbus game, Goose could be seen taking extra face offs while the team stretched. Eventually Marek Zagrapan came over to oppose him. Zagrapan is a player Buffalo needs to see improve this year, and training camp he showed huge strides in work ethic and performance.
After a dozen or so draws, Goose’s stick breaks. Instead of stopping, he snaps the blade off, and gets ready for a face off with an inch long blade. Then he wins the draw. Smiling, he takes a handful more, gives the shaft to a kid and joins the stretches again. I have never wanted to be an eight year old more then right then and there.
The point isn’t that he is awesome, but that he is willing to work with rookies while taking extra time to refine his own game. The little things like taking extra face offs with young players will add up, especially when Zagrapan is brought up from Rochester. Oh yeah, and he’s freaking awesome.
*Denotes pure speculation
Reasons Goose Should Not Be Crowned
-He is young. As stated before, he has two full NHL seasons under his belt, the second of which was shortened by injury. Sure, Sid the Kid has the C in Pittsburgh, but Crosby is a complete freak of nature, and captaincy is his birthright.
-He isn’t on the ice enough. Last year Goose was 18th in average ice time. The actual working function of a captain (talking to officials, standing impatiently outside the half circle, etc…) isn’t necessarily as important as the symbolic, but it is worth noting that his alternate captains would most likely see more ice time.
-He doesn’t score. Captians such as the Capitols’ Chris Clark are a rarity in the NHL. On most teams the captain is that team’s best player. Sidney Crosby, Mats Sundin, Jarome Iginla, all are the best all around players their team has to offer. Slapping a C on Goose when Connolly, Roy, and Vanek fill the box score may not send the best message to the team.
So what do you think? Should we crown Goose’s, uh… tail feather?