Canucks’ Captain Quinn Hughes: Young, Humble & Smart

Earlier this week, Quinn Hughes was named the captain of the Vancouver Canucks. In this role, he’ll become the 15th captain in the team’s history and the third defenseman to hold the title. He takes over the position from Bo Horvat, who was traded to the New York Islanders.

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Hughes is young, only 23 years old. However, from what I’ve seen, he looks both ready to lead the team and willing to learn what he doesn’t yet know on the job. In his interview announcing the captaincy, he shared that he was deeply honored by the appointment and that he also recognized the significance of leading a Canadian team in the hockey world. About his leadership style, he noted that he plans to lead by example, demonstrate a solid work ethic, and give his best on-ice performance. 

As the Canucks’ management spoke to the media, they affirmed that the decision to make Hughes captain involved discussions among themselves about who had the necessary talent and leadership qualities. They landed (easily it seems) on Hughes as the top candidate. In speaking about him, management highlighted his strong qualities for the job. They noted his dedication and hard work on and off the ice. 

Watching Hughes With the Media Confirms the Decision

When I listened to Hughes being introduced as the new Canucks’ captain, two things came across for me in addition to the points he was making. First, this guy is smart. Second, he is humble. I was impressed. 

Quinn Hughes Vancouver Canucks
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

His comments were straightforward and measured. He didn’t claim anything too special about himself, and he shared that he was willing to ask for advice – in fact, he had already done so. He had spoken with Brady Tkachuk, who’s another younger captain with the Ottawa Senators.

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What became apparent listening to Hughes answer questions is that he’s a likable kid without a single thing off-putting in his conversation. The youngster is a keeper, and I left the interview believing that the Canucks had themselves a solid representative as a captain. 

Hughes Qualities That Should Help Him as a Captain

During the interview, Hughes showed both his humility and intelligence. Here are what I believe are a number of qualities that should make him a good captain for this Canucks’ team.

Quality One: Hughes Has a Humble Demeanor

Hughes carries himself well in public, showing both a humble and down-to-earth personality. Despite his status as a top NHL defenseman, he’s about as level-headed and respectful as they come – both on and off the ice. In that way, he’s easy for fans to appreciate.

Quality Two: Hughes Is Intelligent 

Hughes is regarded as a highly intelligent player, and he shows it when he speaks. He has a high hockey IQ, and he shows excellent decision-making and vision on the ice. As I’ve watched him, I’ve seen that he can read the game, make precision passes, and carry his team’s offensive play.

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Quality Three: Hughes Comes From a Great Background

Two things in Hughes’ background spell success. First, before he entered the NHL he played two seasons at the University of Michigan. I happen to think that coming from a university background helps players learn to balance a hockey career with other life commitments. Second, Hughes comes from a hockey family. His younger brother Jack is also a great hockey player with the New Jersey Devils. And father, Jim Hughes has put together a background in coaching and player development. 

Quality Four: Hughes Has a Strong Work Ethic

Hughes is known for his strong work ethic and the dedication he has to improve his game. His commitment to training and development has been a key factor in his success as a defenseman. That leads by example and is a strong foundation for success. 

Quality Five: Hughes Just Doesn’t Quit

I recall well the Canucks’ surprising run toward the Stanley Cup in 2020 when they took the Vegas Golden Knights to Game 7 of their Western Conference Series. The series was goalie Thatcher Demko’s coming out party, but it also was a demonstration of Hughes’ never-quit attitude. 

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The Golden Knights, as they usually do, were a highly physical team and seemed to choose Hughes as their target. He was literally beaten to the ice shift after shift. I remember one camera shot, specifically. As the camera caught him lying on the ice, he just shook his head for a second and then got up to rejoin the play so it could happen all over again.

That was the moment I came to believe Hughes was a special player. That attitude is exactly the attitude this team needs to prosper on the ice – and Hughes demonstrates it in spades.

Hughes Is Relatable and Down-to-Earth

Hughes’ interview showed him to be relatable and down-to-earth. If he can carry these qualities to the job as captain of the Canucks, it bodes well for the team. I believe it matters that a captain is even-keeled, popular among teammates (several of the other would-be leaders of the Canucks showed up to support his announced position), and is able to speak thoughtfully on diverse topics with the media.

Quinn Hughes Vancouver Canucks
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While Hughes didn’t claim to have in-depth knowledge or all the answers, he gave the impression that was capable of carrying out both the good and the bad aspects of such a difficult role. He was also willing to learn. From what I’ve read about him, he’s been carrying himself like a captain for years. 

Hughes Is the Perfect Face of This Franchise

If you are going to choose the face of the Canucks’ franchise, he would have been my choice. He’s just a regular guy with great hockey skills, who is quietly confident, and easy to respect for his work ethic and skill. 

Overall, Hughes is relatable and respected both on and off the ice. I believe he’s going to be a great captain.

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