With as impressive as the turnaround on the ice was last season, perhaps more impressive was the complete turnaround in the dressing room. With the Rick Nash trade, there was a vacancy at Captain, and Todd Richards and the front office were more than willing to leave it open to see how the group responded, and to see who stepped up.
We've debated the candidates for a long time here on The Cannon, and the conventional wisdom is that we'll see a new Captain named sometime during the upcoming training camp. But, in addition to who the new Captain might be, when might we see him named?
I asked Todd Richards about the importance of having a Captain, and whether or not he felt it was a pertinent thing to have decided before the season starts. While Richards stressed the overall importance of the Captain position, he was careful not to take any teeth out of his overall leadership group as a whole. And, when I read between the lines, it almost seems like he--perhaps coyly--might be hinting that he might not pick a Captain at all.
"I've been asked this question a lot," Richards said. "I think everybody wants to see a 'C' on somebody, and I think most teams have it set up. I'm not saying I'm against it or for it. I think you have to find out what works with your group, what works with your team. I've said this before: for me, I value it as a really important decision. It's not just a 'C' on somebody's jersey, it's what it represents: the leader of your team, the face of your franchise. We have great leaders in the room. I believe that. But, what is the best fit for our team right now?"
When thinking about choosing a Captain, Richards doesn't seem to limit a potential decision simply to who the best player or voice might be. It's a complex formula, and it's clear he's giving it serious thought and consideration. "What is the best fit for individuals right now?" Richard noted when discussing how he might pick a Captain. "Is the player ready to bear the brunt of wearing the 'C' and being held accountable for all of those questions that you're going to get when things aren't going well? It's always easy to answer questions when things are going good. It's when things aren't going good that you have to stand to the forefront and you've gotta answer those tough questions."
I think most fans assume something is going to happen before the regular season kicks off. But, for those expecting and early announcement, you may be disappointed. "For me, I have no time-table set," Richards said. "As a coaching staff, as management, this is something that we really value, and we put a lot of importance on it. It's nothing that will be forced into, and nothing that will be rushed into."
Of course, the joke will be on me when they name a Captain before Sunday's home exhibition opener.