Five Thoughts For Friday

Thinking a bit about jersey numbers, the captaincy, and Ottawa's youth

1. I've seen a bit of chat about jersey numbers recently, since David Legwand couldn't pick his traditional number 11, because it will eventually be retired for some Daniel Alfredsson guy. It's funny, because essentially, jersey numbers should be meaningless. They hardly even serve a purpose these days, except maybe to distinguish Jamie Benn from Jordie Benn. And yet, so much superstition follows them. You get guys like Dan Cleary changing to 71 so Alfie can wear number 11. Kyle Turris changing to number 7 when he came to Ottawa. Jason Spezza taking number 90 when he went to Dallas since Tyler Seguin already wears 91 (19 is retired in honour of the late Bill Masterton), and for some reason, Alex Chiasson chose 90 for the fall. Whenever number 55 is a choice, I pick it. For some reason, it's just my number.

Legwand chose number 17, most recently worn by Filip Kuba in the capital, but also warn by notables like Jody Hull and Bill Muckalt. You gotta hope that Muckalt's luck doesn't rub off on the guy. Of course, I'm kidding, because numbers should be meaningless. But playoff beards and touching the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl should also be meaningless. Superstition in hockey is a funny thing.

2. A lot has been made about who will be the next captain of the Senators. Some people wonder if there's even a point in discussing it. After all, the captain should be a leader in the dressing room, something that we as mere fans can't know. But at the same time, the captain can be a huge marketing tool. If Erik Karlsson becomes the new captain, people will definitely go out and buy captain King Karl jerseys. Some people also think that the captainship is gimmicky anyway, since leaders will lead the team with or without a letter. Most people seem to think that having three assistants is a terrible choice, because it makes the franchise look like it's in transition. I can't know for sure, since I've never been in any sort of competitive hockey dressing room, but I think that captain choice at least affects players a little bit. I mean, you can't help but think that choosing Andrew Ference before he's even played a game for the Oilers, or choosing Gabriel Landeskog as a 19-year-old sophomore sends a message to the rest of the team. I think the captain choice for the upcoming year will give a sense of whether the coaching staff think that the youth movement has truly arrived.

3. On the topic of captains, many people have said it should be Karlsson. Trevor Shackles wrote a good FanPost arguing why it shouldn't be Chris Phillips or Chris Neil, with the main argument being that both will probably be done in two years, and that means in two years at most, the Sens will need a new captain. The other big argument for a young guy seems to be Kyle Turris. (Funny, I wrote that as a joke as my first FanPost on this site.) I think it's more likely that the Sens use a homegrown product like Karlsson, even though Turris will be in his fourth season in Ottawa this fall.

4. What kind of captain would each of those two make? As a comparison, Alfredsson always seemed reluctant to be captain in public. He would often take charge on the ice, but he didn't love media attention after the games. Spezza, on the other hand, seemed to relish the role of being the go-to-guy for the media. Probably a bit of introversion/extraversion at play there. I think that Karlsson tends to be more of a joker with media, while Turris is definitely shyer in front of a camera. You can hear arguments for why each type of captain is better.

If the team decides to go the route of most talented player as captain though, there's no competition.

5. Finally, as writers, we've just started gearing up for the Sens' Top 25 under 25 series (coming to a blog near you early into August!), and I have to say that I'm shocked by how many players on past lists are no longer eligible. Look back just a year and a half to the rankings from Winter 2013, and notice how many are gone. Turris, Mark Borowiecki, and Eric Gryba are all too old. Stephane Da Costa, Kaspars Daugavins, and Jim O'Brien would all be too old if they were still in the organization. Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen were both sent away as part of the Bobby Ryan trade, and Andre Petersson was also traded. The Summer 2013 rankings are more relevant, but even still, guys like Cory Conacher along with the aforementioned Borowiecki and Turris are no longer eligible. All that to say, stay tuned, because this year's rankings will definitely feature some new names!

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