During the Carolina Hurricanes end of season media availability with the players last week, I had the opportunity to address the team’s two-headed captaincy directly with the two players who comprise it, Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk. Both said they were fine with it, but one admitted it was a little weird.
With the future of Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters currently up in the air, the future of the team’s dual-captain approach is up in the air, as well. It’s a concept that Peters received some criticism for over the course of the season, but whether or not it was a good or bad move is up for debate. They have missed the playoffs consistently, whether it be with a single captain, no captain or two captains.
Hurricanes With the “C”
The Hurricanes have not had a plethora of captains over the years. In fact, since becoming the Hurricanes, prior to this season, the team had only had five captains. Kevin Dineen was the captain when the team was moved to Raleigh, NC — he was captain of the Whalers prior to the move from Hartford. Keith Primeau assumed the duties for two years following Dineen. Fan favorite and until recently, executive vice-president and general manager, Ron Francis wore the “C” for five years.
Equally loved by the fans was Rod Brind’Amour, who also wore the captain’s sweater for five years. Eric Staal followed Brind’Amour and was the captain as well as the face of the team for seven years until being traded to the New York Rangers in 2015.
Wearing the “C” has not been something taken lightly in the Hurricanes organization. In fact, Peters declined to name a captain in the 2016-17 season, opting instead for four alternates. They were Staal, Faulk, Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask. This was another of Peters’ moves that came under scrutiny. Peters said, “It’s a young group of leaders that are emerging, and it’s time for them to take a step and take over.” When the team did not make the playoffs in 2017, there was little doubt that there would be a”C” on the ice in 2017-18.
You Want a Captain? Have Two
In the months leading up to the naming of a captain for the Hurricanes this season, the speculation was varied as to who it might be when announced by Peters. I wrote that the “C” was likely to be a “J.” It seemed obvious that Staal, Faulk, Skinner or the recently returned Justin Williams would wear the “C” for the Hurricanes.
In fact, almost immediately upon his return to the Hurricanes, Williams seemed to be the obvious choice. His natural leadership abilities were glaring, and his recent experience with the Washington Capitals and their ability to win seemed to make Williams the guy. As it turned out, Williams was not the guy, and there was no one “guy.”
Peters named two captains, Staal and Faulk. Skinner was named as an alternate. There were mixed reactions to the move. The two players who filled the roles had similar comments as to how they felt about the two-headed captaincy. Jordan Staal said,
I think it worked fine this year. I don’t think there were any issues. I think Faulker did a great job and hopefully, I did an okay job, too. It was no real issue, I guess.
I really did not expect Staal to say anything negative in response to my question. His answer was thoughtful and honest. Staal has been a leader on the team regardless of whether or not he was wearing a title. It is not likely that being a captain along with Faulk changed much if anything about how he conducted himself.
I asked Faulk the same question, was the two-captain idea a good one, did it work, etc? He had a bit more to say. Faulk said,
I think Jordan and I are comfortable with each other. I think obviously it’s a weird situation. You don’t really see it. The last guys to do it were Briere and Drury, I think in Buffalo. It’s different, it’s weird. I don’t know if maybe you’ll have to ask other guys what they think of it. Between the two of us, we get along obviously really well. We understand each other real well. We know what to expect from each other and what each other brings. I don’t think that’s taken away anything from us or changed our approach our day and how we carry ourselves in here.
Faulk referenced the 2006 Buffalo Sabres who also had co-captains, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. To boil it down, for the Hurricanes it seemed to work even though it is weird. It’s the weirdness that fans first responded to when Peters announced the plan for two captains. Whether or not it worked is up for debate, as the team is once again not in the playoffs.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.