So, now that Daniel Alfredsson is gone, everyone is pretty much assuming that Jason Spezza will get the C next. Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun wrote a pretty compelling piece on that topic last week, highlighting Spezza's leadership in the locker room--he pointed out, for example, that it was Spezza who organized the rookie dinners, and with Spezza out last year, there was no rookie dinner (WTF, Alfie?)--and citing an anonymous retired player (OBVIOUSLY PAUL MACLEAN) who says that if it was a player vote, it would be unanimous for Spezza.
Good enough for me.
The alternates are a different story. The A has been kind of the kiss of death in recent years. For a while, it meant you were going to get traded. Last year, injuries kind of followed it around--the team rotated alternates after Spezza was hurt. Erik Karlsson wore an A, Milan Michalek wore an A, Sergei Gonchar wore it, etc.
Chris Phillips will probably not lose his alternate captain status. He may be named team captain, but for the purposes of this discussion, let's assume he keeps his A. Phillips may not be the leader, but he's still a leader. That means there's one spot up for grabs. Who are the candidates?
Erik Karlsson - He got to wear it last year, and is quickly emerging as a leader on the ice. Is he a leader in the locker room, though? If letters are awarded based on value to the team, Karlsson is a shoe-in.
Chris Neil - A popular choice among the fans, Neil's leadership and heart are frequently cited as intangibles that make him valuable beyond his limited on-ice ability. Neil does not hesitate to get into teammates' faces when he thinks they're not giving it their all, is willing to put his body on the line to win a game, and isn't shy about pumping the fans up. If letters are awarded based on heart-and-soul, Neil is a shoe-in.
Milan Michalek - One of the few veterans left, Michalek wore an A in rotation last year, as previously mentioned. He's obviously respected by the team and could be in line for a larger leadership role given the age of the team. Michalek has always struck me as a straightforward player who doesn't take himself too seriously. He could offer the proper blend of maturity and immaturity that an alternate captain needs--a mix of the seriousness of Chris Phillips and the silliness of Jaosn Spezza, if you will.
Marc Methot - This guy turned into an Ottawa Senator in an instant, didn't he? With just a couple games under his belt it was obvious he understood the city, the team, the fans, and MacLean's system. It was like he'd been here forever. Another rare veteran on a young team, he could be a strong locker room voice. But he's only been here one year. Is that long enough to earn respect?
Bobby Ryan - A dark horse for sure, considering Ryan has played zero games for the team, which puts him slightly behind the others on this list. But consider this: Ryan is known to be a garrulous, upbeat, and honest person. He's also going to be thrown into top-line minutes everywhere on the ice. It's not unrealistic to see him emerging quickly as a leader in training camp. He's always talking on and off the ice, which makes him a great communicator for the youngsters, and he's being put in a position to lead on the ice. Ryan is going to be the team's "we need a goal" guy. That should earn him respect very quickly.
Who do you think should get the last A?
- worsteverything talks about Jared Cowen's RFA situation. He's mistaken about the circumstances behind it, but makes a good case why Cowen should come cheaply. [WTYKY]
- The Senators will play the Canucks in Vancouver outdoors in March for a "Winter" "Classic". [Senators Extra]
- Speaking of playing, the last day of prospect camp was a 3-on-3 tournament. Here's video. [Senators]
- The team also announced its preseason schedule. What, no Detroit? [Senators]
- Now that Mark Borowiecki has signed, the Senators will turn their efforts towards re-signing Patrick Wiercioch and Cowen. Cowen's agent mentions that the sides have been in touch, but the Sens have been busy with UFAs, so talks should move quickly. The team also re-signed Dave Dziurzynski, and I'm not even giving him his own blurb. I'm a jerk. [SE]
- In a stunning move, Ilya Kovalchuck has retired from the NHL. [Devils]
- In a not-so-stunning move, the KHL will reportedly pay Kovalchuck $20M a year to play there. And you thought Wade Redden was getting paid. [Puck Daddy]
- Speaking of getting paid, Tukka Rask of the Boston Bruins just got an 8-year, $56M deal. [Boston Globe]
- Speaking of getting paid, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins just got an 8-year, $52M deal. So, they're paying their goalie more than their top center. Interesting. [Bruins]
- Finally, NHL 14 will include an NHL '94 anniversary mode. NHL '94 will always get all of the love because of Swingers, but NHL '96 is superior in every way. [YouTube]