If you are familiar with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and especially if you are a Newfoundlander yourself, it should come as no surprise that we are nothing if not proud of our heritage and culture, sometimes perhaps to a fault. So really then, I shouldn’t have been surprised to have been involved in a recent conversation (argument) at the Pepsi Centre here in Corner Brook about why Jason King has to be the captain of the 2011-2012 IceCaps. And yet, I was.
The guy I was talking with suggested that not only is King the natural choice to lead the IceCaps in their inaugural season, but that there would be a public backlash should somebody else be awarded the “C”.
As you likely know, captaincy in professional hockey is rewarded based on a player’s ability to inspire his teammates as opposed to strictly on-ice skill. Traditionally, when all things are running smoothly a team will have a captain and two alternate captains (each of whom wear an “A” on their jerseys). Of course this is by no means a rule and many variations have been seen in hockey over the years. The 2008-2009 Toronto Maple Leafs, for example, had no captain and a group of 5 players who wore an “A”, three at a time, alternating each month.
Of the players that have become IceCaps since the team officially moved from Chicago in July, only defenceman Mark Flood, a July free agent pickup, comes to St. John’s having worn an “A” with any AHL franchise last year (Manitoba Moose). This leaves the role of captain, and perhaps another alternate captain up for grabs, since King and several others have worn letters in the past.
At 29 years of age, RW Jason King is definitely one of the more experienced veterans on the IceCaps and has experience at the NHL level with the Vancouver Canucks in addition to his recent years playing international hockey in Sweden and Germany. He certainly has the resume of a leader, but what about somebody like C Tim Stapleton?
Stapleton, also 29, played 45 games for the Thrashers last season and has ample experience at the AHL and international levels with the Toronto Marlies, San Antonio Rampage, and Jokerit in the SM-Iiiga.
So, my question is this: What do you think the IceCaps should do in regards to captaincy for the coming year?
Does King have the edge over somebody like Stapleton because of where he’s from? Are there other veterans you think could take the reins? Does Mark Flood get the first crack because of his prior position? Does the team even need to worry about this at this point? Discuss in the comments. I’m eager to hear what you guys think about this.