As we say goodbye to Alfredsson, and say hello to the big hole in our hearts, it's our right as fans to start speculating who will wear the "C" next season. In my mind, there are only three possible candidates.
My opinion is that Spezza is the front runner in the discussion. After ten seasons, he is behind only Chris Neil and Chris Phillips in games played as a Senator. He's arguably the most dynamic offensive player in the Senators' short history. His 621 points in 611 games make him more than a point-per-game player. However, captaincy isn't always about offence. Leadership is important both on and off the ice, and we all know Spezza's effort and dedication can sometimes be questioned. And with restricted access to the locker room, I'm oblivious to his talents as a leader.
Chris Phillips could potentially be rewarded for his career-long dedication to the franchise. With 1,073 games played, Phillips is second to only Alfredsson in games played in a Senators uniform (and possibly still has more than the whole team combined. Minus Neil and Spezza. I didn't do the math, so don't quote me on it). His talent and role has diminished over the last few seasons, but his dedication, determination and compete level cannot be questioned. Phillips plays hard and is a good role model for this young Senators team. However, with only one year left on his contract, and Phillips' future uncertain, it would be a short-term nomination.
At 23 years of age, Karlsson has become one of the most exciting players in the NHL. He's won a Norris and on most nights, carries the team offensively on his small, skinny shoulders. It's highly unlikely that he'll get the "C" next season given the two aforementioned candidates, but it's not impossible, and the team might decide to shock us all again by giving him captaincy. The league has changed in the last decade and we are seeing more and more young guys thrust into leadership roles (See Crosby, Landeskog, Stamkos, etc.)
Chris Neil is definitely someone to consider, what with his dedication to the team on and off the ice, as well as his superhuman efforts in the community through his charity work. But realistically, his chances are very slim.
Regardless of who dons the "C" next season, it's safe to say that a new era is beginning in Ottawa, and despite feeling dejected and devastated, I'm quite optimistic and anxious to see how things develop.