Email Hot Stove: Who Should be the Next Captain?

This edition of the Email Hot Stove features the Silver Seven staff discussing letters and leadership

Question: Who should be the next captain of the Ottawa Senators and why?

Peter: The next captain of the Ottawa Senators should be Kyle Turris. He should be named captain for the 2015-16 season; the Senators should have no captain for the 2014-15 season.

I'm not sure why I think this... probably because I don't want Phillips to be named captain (based on the fact that he isn't able to lead the way on the ice as well as the likelihood that he won't be with this team for more than a couple more seasons), I think Karlsson has enough on his plate without all the shit that comes with the captaincy, and I don't think it would be 'appropriate' (for lack of a better term) for Turris to jump straight into the captaincy. Turris, Phillips, and MacArthur should be the three associates, and I suppose Neil can be a fourth if the team is unwilling to take a letter away from him. Once Phillips and/or Neil moves on, Karlsson can have the vacant associateship.

Amelia: You don't think Turris has enough on his plate already without dealing with the captaincy too? He seems like a pretty shy guy.

Michaela: Here's what I think SHOULD happen: The Sens should wait a year, and go through the season with three alternates. Depending on how Kyle Turris handles being a full-time first-line centre, he should get the C. He's become a player who Paul MacLean can rely on night in and night out. I'm interested to see how he handles the new pressure that this season will bring, but I think he will learn to handle it. I do worry about Turris' media presence, as he is very shy. But he has a great relationship with local media, and always gives the "safe" answers that you would expect. I think he'll get more comfortable in front of the camera, especially after this season.

Here's what I think WILL happen: The Sens will give the C to Chris Phillips because they know he only has a couple of years left, and a lot of fans love him. When he's gone, they will give the C to Erik Karlsson because he is the most skilled (and most popular) player on the team and arguably the new face of this franchise.

Bottom line: I think Turris should eventually get the C. Whether or not that happens is another story.

Peter: Amelia, I think Turris does have a lot on his plate, especially this season with the new role, responsibilities, and higher expectations. But on the other hand, he's used to a lot of media scrutiny, with his usage under (and comparisons to) Gretzky, his setbacks with Tippett, the contract holdout, and now his time in Ottawa. I don't think Turris is quite ready for it yet, which is why I'd like to wait a season before making it official; he should be a bit more comfortable in his surroundings heading into 2015-16.

Michaela: Turris-for-captain-beginning-in-2015-16 buddies?

Michaela: Yes! Can we make t-shirts?

Mrs. O: I cannot pick one; there are two I believe could/should be given the C.
1. Perhaps he still has to become a bit more mature, but I believe Erik Karlsson is the face of this franchise. I think he puts the team on his back (sometimes to a detriment, but that's another topic altogether). I can't see him in the dressing room, but I wouldn't doubt if he has a good presence in there and I think he has a good rapport with the young and older players. I think the main strike against him is that maybe he's too "young" right now.
2. That said, I think that Turris would be a fine choice as well. He's got the kind of calming demeanor that #11 had, which we all know how he was as a captain. Turris has shown he can lead on the ice. He's a responsible player and he's only getting better with every season here. My only hesitation with Turris is that he may be too reserved to be captain, but sometimes that quiet leadership runs deeper than vocal leadership.
I would be happy with either of these players as captain, honestly.

Amelia: I both want and expect the team to name Karlsson. I'm not quite sure why there's a perception he lacks maturity, while young, this is his sixth season in the league and he's actually been with the big club longer than anyone save Phillips and Neil (I guess he's tied with Michalek as well). I think his commitment to rehabbing his Achilles injury also showed the kind of maturity people are looking for from him. While he's not exactly comfortable with invasions of his privacy from certain members of the Ottawa media, he's generally pretty comfortable with the PR aspects of being the face of the franchise (a 10 minute interview he gave last week really illustrated his comfort level).

I have nothing against Turris as captain. I think he would be very steady. I think without Spezza around, he'll have enough on his plate attention-wise that naming a caretaker captain (someone like Phillips who has an end date two years from now) to ease his transition.

That said, if they feel the young guys aren't ready, Phillips is definitely the lesser of two evils in terms of leadership (vs. Neil). While he's declined sharply, there's still a lot of respect for his tenure in Ottawa and his success at the height of his career. He doesn't show the frustration of a player like Neil on the ice and does attempt to be a leader during play (yeah, I mean the pointing).

Adnan: The next captain should be Erik Karlsson. To me the captain is mostly a marketing and a PR thing. Karlsson is obviously the most marketable guy and he's pretty good at dealing with the media with his little quips. I don't know if he's good at inspiring others through his leadership but I don't know that about anyone else either, so I will ignore that.

Sheer Craziness: Call me crazy but I agree with Adnan. Captainship is at least in part a marketing tool. Often the best player becomes the captain, like Crosby or Ovechkin. Karlsson is without doubt the most talented player on the team. As such I think he should be the next captain. He's had a lot of seasoning. He's clearly a leader on the ice. The Sens need to embrace the fact that the Karlsson years are upon us and make him captain. No other choice makes as much sense to me.

B_T: Of course it's a marketing tool, but what about a negotiating tool?

What about Bobby Ryan, with a nice new extension to go along with the C?

He's arguably the second most skilled player on the team behind Karlsson, he's got a good amount of experience (should hit 500 games this season), he's been good with the media and fans, and you can't deny the optics of having the guy with the C sign a brand new long term extension after the last two captains bailing for greener pastures in two consecutive years.

Sure, he hasn't been with the team for very long, but teams have given the C to brand new signings before - seems to have worked out fine for Boston.

Ary: I'm on the "3 A's and then Turris" train. For many of the reasons stated by the rest of you, I don't think that the team should select a Captain this year and just focus on the on-ice stuff. Leading by committee, which is something we've heard so much from the team this year, is going to happen regardless of who is assigned the C, but I think that this year will be important for management to evaluate the leadership group as a whole while the team is in a transition period.

Nkb: I've wrestled with this question a lot longer than I should have but I've come to the following conclusion: putting the C on any given player has more power to alienate that individual than it does to unite a team. My feeling is that leadership isn't something that's imbued to anyone wearing a letter -- dressing room hierarchies work themselves out largely independently of things like "who's captain". At the same time, the captain of any struggling team will bear a disproportionate amount of the public blame. Whether we like it or not, this kind of pressure can matter. Further, situations like what's taking place currently in San Jose with the Sharks are basically going to war with their best player over a felt letter on his jersey are just too great a risk to take. Give the C to Phillips to keep it away from Karlsson or someone who carries more weight on the actual playing of the game. If Karlsson is going to lead, he can do it without the C. But the team desperately needs to avoid silliness with its' best players and so should not pin this responsibility on them for now.

Sheer Craziness: Re: B_T. Remember how well that strategy worked for NJ concerning Parise. Or what Weber tried with Nashville. I feel like for every time it works, there's at least one it didn't. And I don't want a third summer of the captain leaving. As long as BRy has no extension in place, it becomes more and more likely he walks. And I doubt the captainship changes his opinion much.

Peter: I think B_T's suggestion was that we use the captaincy as an incentive to get Ryan to actually sign an extension, sort of like what Boston may have done with Chara when those dastardly fellows stole him from the Sens. I'm skeptical that the tactic would work, but I suppose it's as good as any.

I like nkb's point, too, but that's one reason I think the team should go without a captain--and also a reason why I don't think Karlsson would necessarily benefit from being named it, if that's what ends up happening. Considering the number of haters who still criticize Karlsson despite the fact that he's far and away this team's best player, I don't think the added pressure or attention of the captaincy would benefit him.

Turris is a very good player, but he's also pretty vanilla. (Side note: That also happens to be his favourite flavour of cheesecake.) Vanilla captains don't usually take much shit in the media or from fans, so the captaincy probably wouldn't negatively affect him if he were given it in a year's time.

B_T: The key there was 'with a long term extension', though. Not something that applied to Parise or Weber.

Sheer Craziness: Sorry, missed the extension bit. Hey, I'd do a lot of things for Ryan if he signed a long-term extension

Who should be the next captain of the Ottawa Senators?

Erik Karlsson91
Marc Methot27
Chris Neil11
Chris Phillips42
Bobby Ryan13
Kyle Turris45
No captain, three As99
Don't know4

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