Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why Henrik Sedin Will, and Should Be, the Next Captain

As I sit here drinking my hot coffee on this rainy Saturday, waiting for the 40th Vancouver Canucks season to officially begin, I decided to weigh in on a topic that's been thrown about since Roberto Luongo was removed as Captain. (I don't buy the "spin")  While looking at the current Canucks roster I see four potential candidates to be named Captain of the team, by whichever means the organization decides to choose.  Whether it's installed by the management and coaching staff, or voted upon by the players themselves. The latter being the truest form of picking the most popular choice by the players themselves. Below is the list of these candidates I've identified and my pro's and con's for each. 

Dan Hamhuis
A new addition to the team via free agency this off-season. Hamhuis brings with him a very well respected reputation as a top 4 blue liner who spent the first years of his career in a relative shadow.  This is not saying he wasn't identified by hockey people in the league as a good player, but he had been playing in a non hockey market, on a mediocre but not terrible team, the Nashville Predators.  Furthering his perhaps lack of 'star power' in Nashville was that the team was loaded with good young defencemen, non more influential than Shea Weber. Hamhuis is now joining a Vancouver team with a solid group of defencemen, but none this writer would call 'superstars.'  He will get big minutes shared with the likes of newly acquired Keith Ballard, Alexander Edler and Christian Ehrhoff.  Hamhuis is a solid player and a hard worker, and a native of British Columbia.  While these traits are sought after by any organization looking to name a Captain, the fact he's in his first year with a club with new teammates, and in a hockey mad market that he's yet had to deal with is a real detriment to his 'bid' for any Captaincy. 
Alex Burrows
Probably one of the most under rated players on the team outside the market of Vancouver, Alex Burrows is the type of story Disney likes to pick up and market to the feel good crowd. If not for his ornery play on the ice, and an NC-17 rating for bad language, the movie would be a hit.  Burrows, an undrafted member of the team, has the rags to riches story that makes everyone smile. Toiling in obscurity in the ECHL, Burrows' remarkable work ethic and willingness to do anything to help his teams win eventually was noticed by the Canucks organization.  Working his way through the ranks a la EA Sports NHL "Be a Player Mode" has seen Alex move from the ECHL to the AHL, to top line duty with two of the organizations greatest players.  Nothing was ever handed to Burrows, he worked his butt off for every second of ice time through two different coaches with his NHL club.  This is the type of guy that normally would be named Captain of a club, solely for his perseverance and work ethic that is still on display most nights he suits up for his team.  He scores, hits, agitates and rallies his team when needed.  The downside for Burrows is his reputation outside the team, and perhaps quietly inside, for being a dirty player and doesn't stand up and fight when something questionable happens. An organization will struggle in the PR department, if this type of player is the 'face of the franchise.'
Ryan Kesler
Kesler, a two time Selke nominee, star US Olympian and now second line center for the Canucks is another candidate for the title of Captain Canuck. Kesler, drafted by the team and recently extended to a long term deal, has never played for another NHL team.  His skating ability and work ethic has long been his best attributes, and has continued to improve his game to make him one of the best two-way players in the NHL today.  Kesler really did make a name for himself in the NHL the previous two years by being noticed and becoming a finalist for the Selke trophy, and continued to impress hockey observers by his play in the best on best Olympic tournament held in Vancouver.  He is probably many of the fans of the Canucks favourite player, and perhaps an equally close favourite to be named Captain beside Henrik Sedin.  Kesler's major detractor to his bid for Captain of the team has to be his mouth.  Kesler really annoyed many Canadian hockey fans and media by attacking our country during the Olympics with statements like, "Canada? I hate them."  Now most of us in Vancouver know that is just Kesler being his agitating self, but outside the market it was not received well. Kesler is well known to really get under the skin of opposing players, and sometimes does not hold his tongue in what I would call a 'classy' way after the game.  An organization really does want a spokesperson as Captain, and having a sometimes brash, obnoxious, arrogant individual as the face of your franchise is probably not the best antidote for brand identity.  Having said that, Kesler is a very effective player with those attributes and the Canucks team and organization are happy to have him on their side. 
Henrik Sedin
Coming off a remarkable season in which Henrik Sedin played a good portion without his twin sidekick Daniel, and still managed to put up league leading point totals, and a Hart trophy win, Henrik is the hands on favourite to be named the next Captain of the team. H. Sedin was drafted by then Canucks GM Brian Burke, along with his twin brother, in probably one of the best moves a GM has ever made in this league in draft day.  The ability to draft two of the top three ranked players in one draft so they could play together like they had since being children is still a great feat for the bombastic Burke.  Initially a bit of a laughing stock in this town for some sometimes soft play, the Sedin twins have become permanent fixtures on the team's top line the previous four seasons. Their ability to find one another and their other line mate with blind passes and sometimes ridiculous creativity, should be pushing the two of them into league stardom if it hasn't already.  Henrik for his part, played with many different players during his brothers injury last season, and continued to make dazzling passes and chipped in by scoring goals.  Henrik has a relentless pursuit of improving his play and skills every year, always comes to camp in great shape, and continues to improve his statistical numbers year over year. Combined with his well spoken, respectful demeanor in public, and his ability to help out the community in which he plays is why he's my odds on favourite to be named the next Canucks Captain. 

It could be that by the time this is read, the Canucks will have formally announced a Captain.  When I hit the post button, I had yet to hear the official announcement. 


  1. not much improvement, they lost 40 years ago too. Let us hope they will hopefully at least make the playoffs,,

    bad rabbit

  2. thought the mouth guard was to stop the teeth from breaking.

  3. Actually the mouth guard is to protect against concussions more than teeth protection. The theory is when you get clocked your teeth crash together and cause more brain shake. The plastic is supposed to cushion the blow to minimize the shock and cushion the blow inside your head.