Well, ladies and gentleman, New Jersey Devils fans of all ages and nationalities, one thing we thought we had locked up for quite some time was a captain. Without reverting back to a bitter early July, the New Jersey Devils are in search of not another head coach, but another captain.
Losing our fearless leader to free agency definitely was an Ivan Drago type of hit, but the Devils had an incredible run without him in 2010-11. I think this will be a reason for the team to grow together and rally to another playoff appearance in the spring of 2013. Just like the team did while not having Ilya Kovalchuk in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals versus the Philadelphia Flyers.
So, I’m going to get you into my head and give you my take on some potential candidates to get the “C” stitched on their chest. I even threw a curve ball in there for you loyal readers to create some out of the box thinking. Enjoy … and cheers to a successful 2012-2013 NHL season!
1. Ilya Kovalchuk.
This Russian scoring machine is my clear cut choice for captain. While Kovalchuk wasn’t as questionable as an Alex Semin has been, fans were bullied like a nerd in grade school by non Devils fans saying he was a “rental” player and he’d never change his one way style of hockey. Two years later, the percentage of Devils fans who didn’t want him has shrunk immensely.
I’ve heard every reason why he shouldn’t be captain. His English is still broken, he’s not great with media/interviews, and he’s not a player to hype up players on the ice. While I do agree that he struggles with the media and interview, whether by choice or not, Devils fans need to understand that we currently have the new face of the franchise signed. And he’s signed long term.
Martin Brodeur has carried that torch for a long time and even quoted during the 2012 post season that Zach Parise is the new face of the franchise, but Kovalchuk is clearly the best candidate for the title. He’s young, talented, changed his game, and could potentially wrap up his career in a Devils sweater.
2. Bryce Salvador.
Probably the strongest candidate besides Kovalchuk to hold the coaches and players attention for being the Devils next captain. While tasting the UFA menu, the Devils resigned Bryce for the next three years. Bryce (36) had an incredible comeback season after missing all of 2010-2011 with a severe concussion; I thought the guy would never play again. He’s definitely a good defenseman to have around for a few years while some players in the system develop in the AHL and also finish up college.
He’s a strong player, very outspoken, and gets the job done on the ice by playing physical, being patient with the puck down low, and having good vision to drive the play down the other end. I’m a little hesitant to think he encompasses the same traits as other captains around the league, but surely a strong fit considering so many players again will be UFA’s come Spring/Summer 2013 and youth also being a factor.
4. Andy Greene.
I’ve always liked Andy Greene as a player and person. He’s a steal for what he’s getting paid and I think he’s overshadowed heavily by other big name defensemen in the league. I think he has a much bigger impact on the ice and in the locker room despite being small in stature. The 2011-12 post season for Andy was one of the best stretches of games I’ve seen him play in a long time. Despite only having one point in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he had very complete games, moved the puck very well, and dished out plenty of physical play . I think he has more offensive potential but carries himself well and is a great teammate.
A solid runner up to consider for a “C” and the Devils have him locked up as well for the next 3 seasons.
3. Johan Hedberg.
So how much did I just jolt your brain with that player recommendation? I figured I’d give some Devils fans a little out of the box, right brain thinking. While I don’t think it would ever happen, especially from a backup goaltender trying to lead a team from behind the bench, he has every quality that encompasses what a captain should be.
Hedberg is admired by his teammates, coaches, and fans. He’s very vocal, carries himself well all around, and he’s like a mother goose with all the Swedish chicks following him under the roof at Prudential Center and with life outside of hockey.
“I think you just have to spend time around this guy at the rink. His play speaks for itself and what he has done, but he’s a consummate pro,” Peter Deboer said of Hedberg. “He’s taken the young Swedish players we’ve had here under his wing (Josefson, Larsson, Tedenby) when he was up here. He’s just a great man. I think that was an easy one (speaking of the Players’ Player Award).”