In the locker room, there are a few people who have the floor whenever encouragement needs to be instilled or tough love is required. The coach goes silent and the captains have the floor to address their team. With the departure of Francois Beauchemin, the Anaheim Ducks find themselves one assistant captain short. What do you need in any captain on your team? You need a hard worker so the example is set without words. You also need a veteran who has a few years of experience in the toughest of situations. The two favorites to succeed Beauchemin in Anaheim and who meet those requirements, are Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Kesler.
Cogliano: Discipline and Hard Work
Cogliano has become more notable in the past year because he is now the NHL’s leading iron man having played in 622 consecutive regular season games. How is Cogliano able to keep such a long streak alive in the hard-hitting Western Conference? He’s disciplined in his fitness, diet, and practice. Most of his team has joined him in his ritualistic stretching and warm up routine before games. They all look to him for advice on diet and how to stay fit in the offseason.
Cogliano, like Kesler, turned his game up during the playoffs getting nine points in 16 games. His hard and fast skating was able to help the penalty kill and he provided secondary scoring beyond the talents of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
He has been with the team for a few years now and the scribes in Anaheim always mark him as one of the best interviews in the room after wins or losses. Cogliano displays his leadership with hard work on the ice and maturity in the locker room. He could be the one with a new patch on his jersey come October. But there’s also Ryan Kesler.
Kesler: Veteran and Calming Presence
Ryan Kesler was the new guy last year. He came in and wanted to play well but at the back of his mind, he couldn’t shake that he was now teammates with some former enemies. He warmed up to his new friends in the coming months and was comfortable not long after training camp.
When the playoffs came, Bruce Boudreau noted how Kesler was able to keep the bench calm in this LA Times article. He brought a new type of presence and intensity to the Ducks with his positive attitude during games whether the team was down or up.
Kesler has also lived through some painful playoff memories. Losing the Stanley Cup in game 7 to Boston while he was with the Vancouver Canucks still sits at the back of his mind. It’s this type of knowledge and experience that can help the younger players on a predominantly youthful roster.
Whoever takes the spot vacated by Beauchemin will have the task of joining Getzlaf and Perry to help push this team past their game 7 failures and into championship mode. Both of them can do it and both can do it well.
I am a young product of Southern California taking in the world of hockey from the palm trees. I was raised by Kings fans and rebelled to the Ducks in 1993. This sport is incredible and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game, the fans, and most of all, coaches and players.