Todd Richards, it's time to name a captain.
Leadership by committee made sense when it wasn't clear who led this group of players. That day is long gone.
Give this team someone to rally around. It's no secret that Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, and Boone Jenner are the heart and soul of this club (along with Sergei Bobrovsky, of course).
Pick one as your captain. The other two are alternates. Done.
There seems to be a fear of making the wrong choice. I get that. (
Adam Foote. Rick Nash.) And this is still a very young team. But Dubinsky just signed long-term. Nick Foligno has the opportunity to sign long-term. Boone Jenner is still on his entry-level deal, and is already playing himself into a long-term contract.
I just don't see the "press the eject button" mentality of a superstar, or an aging vet with one last chance for success. I see guys that are committed to winning. Guys that drive this team.
Again, I'll say: Give this team someone to rally around.
When someone takes extra swipes at Jenner, I want someone to say, "That's not going to fly. He's my captain."
If someone crashes Foligno hard into the boards or knocking the net off its moorings, I want someone to say, "That's our leader, our heart and soul, and you're not going to take him out."
If someone chirps at Dubinsky, I want everyone to take it personally, because Dubinsky is Blue Jackets Hockey.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying players don't have that live and die mentality. Especially those guys, and Matt Calvert, and Scott Hartnell, and Dalton Prout, and a few others. But this team is at its best when they're playing confrontational hockey. Yes, you can absolutely point to early season struggles as a result of many freak and unfortunate injuries. You also can look back and see a lot of guys not finishing checks. You see extra liberties being taken when they get our top players in the corners. You see too few people standing up for themselves and their teammates.
This isn't a knock against anyone else, certainly not when this team has had success being led by committee in the past. Yet, Jack Johnson and Jared Boll wearing alternate A's on their sweater - I don't know that I'm ok with that anymore. It screams rewarding players for their status, or their contract, and not for their play. That's not how Blue Jackets Hockey is supposed to work.
You've got your captain. It's time to give him the credit he deserves.