These days aren't the greatest for Sens fans. This upcoming season we will have our third captain in three seasons, and we have essentially become the joke of the league due to an extremely cheap owner, lack of success, and simply a bad image. Since Spezza has left, many people have been wondering whom the next captain will be. I think it's a legitimate question, but one that should have a very simple answer. Erik Karlsson deserves the captaincy, and he should be given the reins next year.
There are some people who would disagree with that, but what other options are there? Two of the more popular choices are Chris Phillips and Chris Neil, but Karlsson makes much more sense logically. Neil is already 35 years old and has only two years left on his deal. Phillips is 36 years old and also has only two years left on his contract. I'm assuming (hoping?) that they will both be gone in 2016, and then the team would have to find another captain once again. For a team that has been the butt of the joke too many times, they need to avoid another poor choice here. No doubt I think Neil and Phillips are both good leaders in the dressing room, but why give either one of them the captaincy if they will be gone soon? Also, there's no doubt in my mind if either of them became captain, he would be the worst player in the league to wear the 'C.' Let's not kid ourselves, Phillips is nothing more than a third pairing defenseman at this point, and Neil is a fourth line enforcer. The only other players that maybe come close are Bryce Salvador and Andrew Ference, but they are still better than Neil and Phillips. Yes, you must be a good leader to wear the 'C', but I think you should still be at least one of the better players on the team as well.
The team has gone through so much bad publicity over the past few years, and they really need to do something right. Giving Karlsson the captaincy is a step in the right direction. Karlsson is revered in Ottawa, and I think he is more than up for the challenge. I'm not sure if he has quite the same qualities the Alfie had to be a captain, but from what I hear he is quite vocal in the dressing room. He is easily the best player on the team, a good leader, and most of all it is a good PR move for the team. Karlsson is still signed for the next five years at least, so there should be some stability with the leader of the team. There will obviously be critics for Karlsson saying his is too young or immature, but if you look at captains nowadays, many of them are young and talented players. Guys like Gabriel Landeskog, John Tavares, Claude Giroux, and Steven Stamkos were all questioned about their leadership, and they have done just fine in all aspects of the game.
The thing with this captaincy decision is that it's more than the actual naming of a captain. It represents the stability that the organization has, and if a veteran gets the captaincy then we may see this same episode in a few years time. I'm sure Sens fans are sick of other fans taking jabs at them, and I can assure you if Karlsson isn't captain, those jabs will continue. It just doesn't look good when one team has "Sidney Crosby: captain", and the other team has "Chris Phillips: captain." The team needs something positive, and naming Karlsson the captain makes me feel optimistic for the future.
I think that if the team really believes Karlsson isn't ready, then don't have a captain next season. Wait and assess how things go then make a decision a year from now. However, I do think he is ready for the upcoming season, and he deserves it. Another sobering thought about this is that if Karlsson is named captain hopefully he won't want to leave the mess that he is currently involved in. Losing Spezza is fine, but if Karlsson ever leaves then the organization has truly failed everyone.
I think at the end of the day Ottawa will make the right decision, because they realize how important Karlsson is to this team. It just makes so much sense because he is the best player, a good leader, and he will hopefully be with the team for a very long time. It sure beats naming Neil or Phillips captain and having to find a new captain in a few years time again. This is now Karlsson's team, and he needs to get his recognition.