Why Brian Gionta should be the next Habs captain
Having gone without a captain last season, Coach Jacques Martin has promised Habs fans that he will announce his choice to wear the big 'C' during the upcoming training camp. While there’s a strong leadership core from which to choose, I’ve personally maintained for the past year that my pick for the job is Brian Gionta.
Naturally, my choice was initially personal. Being a mere five foot two myself, I can relate to Gionta’s constantly being underestimated because of his size. After watching him play a season with the Habs, I’ve developed other reasons which have only served to reinforce my pick for Gio as the captain of my fave hockey team.
A nice balance with Coach Jacques Martin
While I’ve never admittedly been a huge fan of Martin’s, Gio has been quoted as saying he’s got a lot of respect for his coach. With Martin coaching a defensive game of hockey, it’s important to have a captain who will help balance that by leading the charge offensively.
Despite being labeled a smurf, Gionta has proven to be a consistently hard working, intelligent, and level headed hockey player. He’s first to defend a teammate, isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas to fight for the puck, and often comes up with it no matter the size of his opponent.
Gionta knows his job, and he’s forever on the attack. He offers a terrific energy to balance Martin’s defense-oriented style.
Tenure with the team
In naming a captain, I think it’s important that the new captain be around with the team for more than a year or two. I’ve heard Josh Gorges, Hal Gill and Andrei Markov proposed as candidates for the captaincy, and while I like these players, none are guaranteed to be here after next season.
Gionta’s signed for another four years in Montreal.
Desire and ability to handle the media and the fans
In the RDS post-season interviews, Gionta was practically giggling with delight when asked about the possibility of his being named captain. In a city with the intense media scrutiny that Montreal has, it’s important to have a captain that will not shy away from the newshounds or the fans.
Gionta’s already gotten pretty good at working the constant cameras and microphones in his face without saying anything he doesn’t really want to. Just rewatch any of his post-season interview clips if you need a reminder.
He’s aware of the pressure of the Montreal media and truly humbled by the franchise’s history. He’s one of the few players who doesn’t take a regular beating from the fanbase.
He’s comfortable with the press, he’s really good at dealing with the Montreal fishbowl, and he seemingly wants to do it. I say let him.
Maturity and experience.
One of the reasons I prefer Gionta over younger leaders like Mike Cammalleri and Josh Gorges is the simple fact that Gio has a Stanley Cup ring. He has the knowledge that helped fuel the Habs post-season run to the Eastern Conference Finals (ECF), and I fully expect he can continue to draw upon that to help them time and again.
Some of the younger players, like rookie PK Subban, will no doubt benefit from Gio’s work ethic and experience both on and off the ice.
The players themselves
When interviewed on TSN's Off The Record (OTR) former Hab Georges Laraque said that while Gill was the most vocal in the dressing room, it was really Gionta’s team.
On l’Anti-Chambre, Mathieu Darche said that if it were up to him he’d name Gionta as captain.
At a recent fan meet-n-greet, centreman Tomas Plekanec picked Gionta, maybe Gill, but Gill’s only got a year left on his contract. I don’t speak Czech, but I have it on good authority from a fan that does that this is the gist of the interview.
Yeah, Laraque is gone now but he was there long enough last season to observe the team interaction in the dressing room and form an opinion. Since I’ve never been in the Habs dressing room, I suspect he knows more than me.
And who am I to argue with the players themselves?
Really, I think it’s hard for the team to go wrong with any of the guys who formed the leadership group last season and carried the Habs into their unexpected post-season run. Still, when I stack them up against one another, Gionta’s my clear choice.
Scott Gomez’s contract makes him open to constant attack by the fans and the media, which could easily set him up to be a scapegoat in Montreal’s incessant spotlight—so he's not a good choice.
Gill, Gorges, and Markov are only guaranteed to be Habs for the next season. Also Gorges and Markov don't have Gio's experience, and Markov doesn’t like the media glare all that much.
Cammalleri doesn’t have a Cup ring either. This lack of experience versus Gionta is really my only strike against him when assessing the candidates, so he’d probably be my second choice for the job.
Brian Gionta is a little man who always plays big. He has the respect and ear of his coach and teammates and he’s proven to be a leader both on and off the ice with a strong work ethic and can-do attitude.
I believe he possesses all the heart, drive, experience and talent necessary to lead the Habs to their 25th Stanley Cup.
Read the He Said counter-point.
Tyg used to frequent the old Forum during her early childhood when her father was a corporate season ticket holder, where she fell in love with Larry Robinson, so her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.
Thursday, August 19, 2010