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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brian Gionta Named Montreal's Captain: Ranking the NHL's "C's"

by Kamal Panesar

With the news leaking last week that Brian Gionta will become the 28th captain of the Montreal Canadiens, I thought it was a good time to take a look at and rank all 30 NHL captains.

Ranking the captains is no easy task, mind you, since all of them have some combination of leadership qualities, work ethic, and a never-quit mentality.

As such, deciding which one is better than another is like splitting hairs. The following list is a ranking of the 30 NHL captains based on my overall impression of them as captains.

I am sure that this ranking will spur debate, rage, happiness, and all sorts of emotions but keep in mind that the positioning of one person ahead or behind another is by no means meant as disrespect to any of these individuals.

Being an NHL captain takes a special kind of character, and I truly feel that all of these players demonstrate, in some way or another, a certain "je ne sais quoi."

Note: Five teams have not yet named team captains. In those instances, I have stated the person who I believe should become the captain. I have ranked those teams 30 through 26 for simplicity's sake and not because I feel that their potential captains are inferior.

All stats and info were compiled from ESPN.com and Wikipedia.org.


No. 30: Vancouver Canucks – Currently Vacant

My selection for captain: Henrik Sedin
Years in the league: 9
2010 Stats: 82 GP, 112 Points (29 G, 83 A), plus-35


No. 29: San Jose Sharks – Currently Vacant
My selection for captain: Dan Boyle
Years in the league: 11
2010 Stats: 76 GP, 58 Points (15 G, 43 A), plus-6



No. 28: Edmonton Oilers – Currently Vacant
My selection for captain: Ales Hemsky
Years in the league: 7
2010 Stats: 22 GP, 22 points (7 G, 15 A), plus-7


No. 27: Atlanta Thrashers – Currently Vacant
My selection for captain: Ron Hainsey
Years in the league: 7
2010 Stats: 80 GP, 26 points (5 G, 21 A), minus-6


No. 26: Anaheim Ducks – Currently Vacant
My selection for captain: Ryan Getzlaf
Years in the league: 5
2010 Stats: 66 GP, 69 points (19 G, 50 A), plus-4


No. 25: Florida Panthers – Bryan McCabe
What makes him great: Is in charge of a team in transition, but has been there before.

Years in the league: 14
2010 Stats: 82 GP, 43 points (8 G, 35 A), Minus-4

Awards and accomplishments:
• Second All-Star Team - 2004
• 1997 World Championship Gold


No. 24: New York Rangers – Chris Drury
What makes him great: Captain Clutch knows how to come through in a jam.

Years in the league: 11
2010 Stats: 77 GP, 32 points (14 G, 18 A), minus-10

Awards and accomplishments:
• 2001 Stanley Cup (Colorado)
• 2002 Olympic Silver
• 2010 Olympic Silver
• 2004 World Championship Bronze


No. 23: New York Islanders – Doug Weight
What makes him great: Like Foote, there isn’t much that Weight hasn’t experienced.

Years in the league: 18
2010 Stats: 36 GP, 17 points (1 G, 16 A), minus-1

Awards and accomplishments:
• 1995–96: Played in All-Star Game (NHL)
• 1995–96: World Cup of Hockey Championship (Team USA)
• 1997–98: Played in All-Star Game (NHL)
• 2000–01: Played in All-Star Game (NHL)
• 2001–02: Silver medal (XIX Olympic Winter Games)
• 2002–03: Played in All-Star Game (NHL)
• 2005–06: Stanley Cup Championship (Carolina Hurricanes)


No. 22: Los Angeles Kings – Dustin Brown
What makes him great: A young veteran with grit and determination.

Years in the league: 6
2010 Stats: 82 GP, 56 points (24 G, 32 A), minus-6

Awards and accomplishments:
• 2004 World Championship Bronze
• Played in NHL All-Star Game (2009)
• 2010 Olympic Silver


No. 21: St. Louis Blues – Eric Brewer
What makes him great: Has enough experience to be able to help guide a young, talented group.

Years in the league: 11
2010 Stats: 59 GP, 15 points (8 G, 7 A), minus-17

Awards and accomplishments:
• 2002 Olympic Gold Medal
• 2003 World Championship Gold
• 2003 – Played in NHL All-Star Game
• 2004 World Championship Gold
• 2007 World Championship Gold
• 2004 World Cup Gold


No. 20: Toronto Maple Leafs – Dion Phaneuf
What makes him great: He is the mold that the Leafs are being shaped in.

Years in the league: 5
2010 Stats: 81 GP, 32 points (12 G, 20 A), plus-1

Awards and accomplishments:
• 2007 World Championship Gold
• First Team All-Star 2008


No. 19: Minnesota Wild – Mikko Koivu
What makes him great: Strong leadership genes and competitive nature.

Years in the league: 5
2010 Stats: 80 GP, 71 Points (22 G, 49 A), minus-2

Awards and accomplishments:
• 2006 Olympic Sliver
• 2010 Olympic Bronze
• 2006 World Championship Bronze
• 2007 World Championship Silver
• 2008 World Championship Bronze
• 2004 World Cup of Hockey Silver


No. 18: New Jersey Devils – Jamie Langenbrunner
What makes him great: Like Adam Foote, Langenbrunner is a repository of experience.

Years in the league: 15
2010 Stats: 81 GP, 61 points (19 G, 42 A), plus-6

Awards and accomplishments:
• 1996–97 NHL Calder Trophy Finalist for Rookie of the Year (Dallas Stars)
• 1998 Member of the United States Olympic Hockey team
• 1998–99 NHL Stanley Cup Champion (Dallas Stars)
• 2002–03 NHL Stanley Cup Champion (New Jersey Devils)
• 2002–03 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Scoring Champion (New Jersey Devils)
• 2004 Member of the United States team at the World Cup of Hockey
• 2007–present New Jersey Devils Team Captain
• Named to 2010 United States Olympic Hockey team
• Named Captain of 2010 United States Olympic Hockey team
• 2010 Winter Olympic Silver Medalist - Men’s Ice Hockey


No. 17: Colorado Avalanche – Adam Foote
What makes him great: Battle hardened veteran who has seen it all

Years in the league: 18
2010 Stats: 67 GP, 9 points (0 G, 9 A), plus-8

Awards and accomplishments:
• Named to the OHL First All-Star team in 1990-91.
• Won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and 2001.
• Won an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in 2002.
• Won a World Cup championship with Team Canada in 2004.


No. 16: Nashville Predators – Shea Weber
What makes him great: He is young, skilled and determined

Years in the league: 5
2010 Stats: 78 GP, 43 points (16 G, 27 A), even

Awards and accomplishments:
• 2004 – WHL West Second All-Star Team
• 2004 – CHL Memorial Cup All-Star Team
• 2005 – WHL airBC Trophy
• 2005 – WHL West First All-Star Team
• 2007 – Played in NHL YoungStars Game
• 2009 - Played in NHL All-Star Game
• Named to the 2010 Olympics All-Star Team


No. 15: Columbus – Rick Nash
What makes him great: Like Lecavalier, Nash is intensely committed to the Columbus organization.

Years in the league: 7
2010 Stats: 76 GP, 67 points (33 G, 34 A), minus-2

Awards and accomplishments:
• NHL All-Rookie Team - 2003
• Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy - 2004 (shared with Ilya Kovalchuk and Jarome Iginla)
• NHL All-Star Game appearance - 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009
• NHL Foundation Player Award - 2009
• World Championships gold medal - 2007
• World Championships MVP – 2007
• World Championships All-Star Team - 2007, 2008
• Gold medal - 2010 Winter Olympic Games
• Best Play ESPY Award nomination - 2008


No. 14: Buffalo Sabres – Craig Rivet
What makes him great: Class and poise

Years in the league: 15
2010 Stats: 78 GP, 15 points (1 G, 14 A), minus-6

Awards and accomplishments:
• World Championship Gold Medal - 2003


No. 13: Washington Capitals – Alexander Ovechkin
What makes him great: Wants to win so badly that you, the fans, can taste it.

Years in the league: 5
2010 Stats: 72 GP, 109 points (50 G, 59 A), plus-45

Awards and accomplishments:
• NHL All-Rookie Team: 2006
• NHL First All-Star Team: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
• NHL Number 1 Star of the Month: January 2006, January 2008, March 2008, November 2008, January 2010
• NHL Offensive Player of the Month: January 2006
• NHL Rookie of the Month: December 2005 and January 2006
• NHL Number 1 Star of the Week: Week Ending – December 30, 2007; March 9, 2008; March 23, 2008; December 28, 2008; October 5, 2009; January 18, 2010.
• NHL Offensive Player of the Week: Week Ending – December 31, 2005; January 23, 2006
• NHL Player of the Year – Sporting News: 2008, 2009
• NHL All-Star Game selections: 2007, 2008, 2009
• Calder Memorial Trophy – NHL Rookie of the Year: 2006
• Kharlamov Trophy – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
• Lester B. Pearson Award (Most Outstanding Player): 2008, 2009
• Ted Lindsay Award (Formerly known as Lester B. Pearson Award): 2010
• Hart Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player): 2008, 2009
• Art Ross Trophy: 2008 (112 points)
• Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy: 2008 (65 goals), 2009 (56 goals)
• 2005 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships – Best Forward
• 2006 Winter Olympics – Ice Hockey All-Tournament Team
• 2006 IIHF World Championship – Media All-Star Team
• 2008 IIHF World Championship – Media All-Star Team


No. 12: Ottawa Senators – Daniel Alfredsson
What makes him great: Wants desperately to get his team over the championship hump.

Years in the league: 14
2010 Stats: 70 GP, 71 points (20 G, 51 A), plus-8

Awards and accomplishments:
• 1996 — NHL All-Rookie Team
• 1996 — Calder Memorial Trophy
• 1996 — Played in NHL All-Star Game
• 1997 — Played in NHL All-Star Game
• 1998 — Played in NHL All-Star Game
• 2004 — Played in NHL All-Star Game
• 2005–06 — Second Team All-Star
• 2006 — Gold medal at the Winter Olympics
• 2008 — Starter to NHL All-Star Game, Guy Carbonneau Award for 'Top Penalty-Killer'


No. 11: Montreal Canadiens – Brian Gionta
What makes him great: Instills confidence with his quiet intensity.

Years in the league: 8
2010 Stats: 61 GP, 46 points (28 G, 18 A), plus-3

Awards and accomplishments:
• 2002–03: Stanley Cup — New Jersey Devils (NHL)


No. 10: Tampa Bay Lightning – Vincent Lecavalier
What makes him great: Despite ups and downs, Lecavalier remains intensely committed to Tampa Bay.

Years in the league: 11
2010 Stats: 82 GP, 70 points (24 G, 46 A), minus-16

Awards and accomplishments:
• NHL Second All-Star Team - 2007
• NHL All-Star Game - 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009
• Stanley Cup - 2004
• Rocket Richard Trophy - 2007
• King Clancy Memorial Trophy - 2008
• World Cup of Hockey Championship - 2004
• World Cup of Hockey All-Star Team - 2004
• World Cup of Hockey MVP - 2004


No. 9: Carolina Hurricanes – Eric Staal
What makes him great: Dogged determination

Years in the league: 6
2010 Stats: 70 GP, 70 points (29 G, 41 A), plus-4

Awards and accomplishments:
• 2003–04: Played in the YoungStars Game (NHL)
• 2005–06: Won Stanley Cup with Carolina Hurricanes, NHL 2nd All-Star Team
• 2007: World Ice Hockey gold
• NHL All-Star Game appearances: 2007, 2998, 2009
• 2007–08: All-Star Game MVP
• 2010: Olympic gold (Staal became the 23rd member of the Triple Gold Club)


No. 8: Boston Bruins – Zdeno Chara
What makes him great: His size aside, Chara is a tower of strength for the Bruins.

Years in the league: 12
2010 Stats: 80 GP, 44 points (7 G, 44 A), plus-19

Awards and accomplishments:
• Played in NHL All-Star Game in 2003, 2007, 2008 (starter) and 2009.
• Named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2004 and 2009.
• Named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 2006 and 2008.
• Won the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2009.
• Won the hardest shot competition at the NHL All-Star Game SuperSkills Competition in 2007, 2008 and 2009.


No. 7: Philadelphia Flyers – Mike Richards
What makes him great: Gritty workhorse in the mold of Bobby Clarke.

Years in the league: 5
2010 Stats: 82 GP, 62 points (31 G, 31 A), minus-2

Awards and accomplishments:
• Calder Cup championship (with the Philadelphia Phantoms) - 2004–05
• NHL All-Star Game - 2008
• Bobby Clarke Trophy (Philadelphia Flyers' MVP) - 2007–08, 2008–09
• Gene Hart Memorial Award (Philadelphia Flyers' fan favorite) - 2007–08
• World Junior gold medal - 2005
• Winter Olympic Gold Medal - Vancouver 2010


No. 6: Phoenix Coyotes – Shane Doan
What makes him great: He is a supremely classy individual with an insatiable work ethic.

Years in the league: 14
2010 Stats: 82 GP, 55 points (18 G, 37 A), plus-3

Awards and accomplishments:
• Named to the Memorial Cup All-Star Team in 1995.
• Won the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy (Memorial Cup MVP) in 1995.
• Played in the NHL All-Star Game in 2004 and 2009.


No. 5: Dallas Stars – Brendan Morrow
What makes him great: Learned under Carbonneau and Gainey’s tutelage

Years in the league: 10
2010 Stats: 76 GP, 46 points (20 G, 26 A), minus-3

Awards and accomplishments:
• 2004 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships gold medal
• Gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics (Team Canada)


No. 4: Chicago Blackhawks – Jonathan Toews
What makes him great: Maturity and wisdom beyond his years

Years in the league: 3
2010 Stats: 76 GP, 68 points (25 G, 43 A), plus-22

Awards and accomplishments:
• Nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy – 2008
• NHL All-Star Game - 2009 (starter)
• All-Star selection of the 2010 Olympic Hockey Tournament
• 2010 Winter Olympics - Best Forward
• 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy winner
• Second-youngest to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (22 years, 41 days; only Patrick Roy was younger); youngest Captain to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
• Youngest person to gain entry into the Triple Gold Club (22 years, 41 days at time last component was achieved)
• Named full captain of an NHL team after only 64 NHL games; third youngest full captain (Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier) in NHL history.
• 2010 Stanley Cup Champion
• One of only six players to win Olympic gold and the Stanley Cup in the same year.


No. 3: Pittsburgh Penguins – Sidney Crosby
What makes him great: The face of his city and the NHL

Years in the league: 5
2010 Stats: 81 GP, 109 points (51 G, 58 A), plus-15

Awards and accomplishments:
• Mark Messier Leadership Award (2010)
• Rocket Richard Trophy (2010)
• Stanley Cup (2009)
• Art Ross Trophy (Leading Scorer) (2007)
• Lester B. Pearson Award (2007)
• Hart Memorial Trophy (2007)
• Sporting News NHL Player of the Year (2007)
• NHL First All-Star Team (2007)
• NHL All-Rookie Team (2006)
• Rookie of the Month (October 2005)
• All-Star Game (2007, 2008, 2009)
• Mark Messier Leadership Award (2010)
• World Championships All-Star Team (2006)
• World Championship Best Forward (2006)
• World Championship Leading Scorer (2006)
• Olympic Gold Medal (2010)


No. 2: Calgary Flames – Jarome Iginla
What makes him great: Pure heart and humility

Years in the league: 13
2010 Stats: 82 GP, 69 points (32 G, 37 A), minus-2

Awards and accomplishments:
• NHL All-Rookie Team (1997)
• First team All-Star (2002, 2008, 2009)
• Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy (2002, 2004)
• Art Ross Trophy (2002)
• Lester B. Pearson Award (2002)
• ESPY Best NHL Player (2002, 2004)
• Second team All-Star (2004)
• King Clancy Memorial Trophy (2004)
• NHL Foundation Player Award (2004)
• Mark Messier Leadership Award (2009)


No. 1: Detroit Red Wings – Nicklas Lidstrom
What makes him great: A stalwart, both on and off the ice.

Years in the league: 18
2010 Stats: 82 GP, 49 points (9 G, 40 A), plus-22

Awards and accomplishments:
• World Championship gold medal winner (Sweden, 1991).
• NHL All-Rookie Team (1992).
• 4-time Stanley Cup winner (1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008).
• 11-time NHL All-Star (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009*).
• 9-time NHL First All-Star Team member (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2008).
• 2-time NHL Second All-Star Team member (2009 and 2010).
• 6-time Norris Trophy winner (2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2008).
• Conn Smythe Trophy winner (2002).
• Olympic gold medal winner (Sweden, 2006); Lidstrom became a member of the Triple Gold Club with this win.
• Olympic All-Star Team (2006).

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