I used to laugh at how the New York Islanders chose their newest captain.
Owner Artie Wang and general manager Garth Snow didn’t have a captain to begin with, judging from Alexei Yashin’s last postseason performance. He clashed with coach Ted Nolan and management decided to pay him over $17 million to play anywhere BUT Long Island. So they lost Yashin in addition to trade deadline mercenary Ryan Smyth to Colorado and Jason Blake to the Leafs. To save face, they were looking for ANYONE to sign.
They eventually landed the gritty Bill Guerin and his two-year $9 million deal must have included a “I’m not playing for you if Miroslav Satan is my captain” clause because Artie and Garth had the captain’s “C” stitched on that #13 jersey before Guerin even had it on.
Maybe they overpaid for the 36-year old, maybe not. Maybe giving him the captaincy before he even laced up for the orange and blue seemed forced, maybe not. But at least give the Islanders management credit for making a decision and having a guy undoubtedly assume that leadership role, which is more than our hometown Buffalo Sabres can say.
Suddenly just handing out the “C” doesn’t seem so funny. At least they know who their leader is.
Rotating the captaincy is a stupid idea. Lindy Ruff may be the best coach in the league, maybe not, but the captaincy isn’t something that a player should earn with a month’s worth of good work. The players voted for Jochen Hecht to represent them as their captain and that should be enough. The players see Hecht as the first choice as a leader, not just the guy they want to follow for a month.
Players should compete for roster spots and playing time, not who can be the better leader. It takes a certain breed of competitor to be able to lead a team. It can’t just be, as we joke here in the Roost, a flavor of the month.
Sure the last time the “C” rotated in Buffalo we learned that Satan was an awful captain and that Drury and Briere were the true leaders on the team. But the players didn’t have a say in that in 2003-04. This time they do, and if I were Lindy, I’d respect the decision of my players and let Hecht run with the captaincy.
And if I were Darcy Regier, I’d be making sure right now that Hecht is wearing that “C” for a few seasons to come.