The Vancouver Canucks have a few options for who will be an alternate captain and wear an “A” next season. Normally, this role would go to players like Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev, but as neither is in Vancouver, the team will have to look for new additions to their leadership group. Brandon Sutter did re-sign with the team this off-season, and should be wearing an “A” once the season kicks off. With that in mind, here are four players who could join Sutter and Bo Horvat as part of the leadership group.
Brock Boeser is the third longest-tenured Canuck right now behind Sutter and Horvat. Since he arrived in 2017, he has shown up for this team regardless of its place in the standings. He was nominated for the Calder Trophy, was named the MVP of the 2017-18 NHL All-Star game, and is already closing in on 100 goals in his NHL career. He leads by example, and would be a great addition to the leadership group.
Boeser does have some experience wearing a letter in his career. He wore an “A” at the University of North Dakota, and during his time at Burnsville High back in 2013-14. He also has experience being named captain, as he donned the “C” for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2014. He has the experience, and knows what it takes to be part of a team’s leadership group.
Ekman-Larsson only recently arrived in Vancouver, but he should still be considered when as a player who wears an “A” this season. He had been the captain of the Arizona Coyotes since 2018-19, and has worn a letter with the franchise since the 2014-15 season. Throughout his career, he has also captained Team Sweden, including the 2018-19 World Championships.
One moment stands out when discussing Ekman-Larsson’s leadership, and it happened in Vancouver. During the Sedin’s final home game, he ensured the Coyotes shook the hands of the Sedins before they left the ice. He understood how important these players were to Vancouver, and the league, and ensured his team honoured them. That is a moment that Vancouver fans will always remember. He showed his leadership capacity and why he should be considered part of the leadership group on this year’s Canucks team.
J.T. Miller has stepped up not only on the ice, but also off it in his first two seasons with the Canucks. He has 118 points in 122 games with the franchise, and was tied with Elias Pettersson in points during Vancouver’s 2019-20 playoff run. A veteran of 557 career games, he has found a home on the west coast, and is finally living up to the expectations from when he was drafted 15th overall back in 2011.
Miller’s off-ice leadership was on full display last season when the Canucks went through their COVID-19 shutdown. The majority of the team had contracted the virus and were in no shape to play, despite the league’s push to bring them back early. During a Zoom call, Miller made it clear that the team was not ready, especially because the league would force them to play 19 games in 31 days. His call was heard, and the league pushed the scheduled start back a few days. You want players like that on your team. Players who look out for their teammates and speak up when something is wrong. Miller brings all those qualities and would be a great addition to the leadership group.
Since coming to Vancouver, Tyler Motte has become a fan favourite. He works hard on every shift, and has sacrificed his body on numerous occasions, all for the good of the team. You won’t see him scoring big goals every night, but he is a key part of this team’s success.
Motte leads by example on and off the ice. He isn’t afraid to show that he is vulnerable, and is willing to speak up on everyday issues. He opened up about his mental health struggles and helped promote the hockey talks program, which was inspired by former Canuck Rick Rypien, who tragically lost his battle with mental health. He is a leader in the community, and the dressing room. He is an easy player to cheer for, and shows up night after night; he could easily be part of the leadership group this season.
Some Great Options Avaliable
The Canucks have quite a few options for who wears an “A” this season. They could even alternate, as they have in the past with different combinations, depending on if the team is playing at home or on the road. Regardless of who wears a letter, this team is full of leaders, though the four players mentioned in this article should do an adequate job of replacing the void left by Edler’s departure.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.