With reports surfacing that the Los Angeles Kings are going to be stripping Dustin Brown of his captaincy, maybe the Montreal Canadiens should do the same with Max Pacioretty.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 27, 2016
I mean, after all, these are the Kings we’re talking about, winners of two Stanley Cups within the last handful of years. Surely, they know what they’re doing.
Granted, Brown was at the helm of the ship for those two championships… and general manager Dean Lombardi does have the Mike Richards black mark on his otherwise stellar record at assessing character (cough Slava Voynov). But you know what they say? You can’t spell character without “CH.”
Well, no one actually says it… but (looks in dictionary) it’s true!
So, why not examine the pros and cons of taking away the “C” from the much-maligned Pacioretty, see what we can do about bringing Stanley Cup No. 25 back home and, perhaps most importantly, not take any of the below all that seriously?
Pro: It’s Time for a New Voice
There was a general consensus among the team’s fanbase that someone should be made to pay for the embarrassment of the team missing the playoffs despite starting the season 9-0.
Seeing as that someone isn’t head coach Michel Therrien for whatever reason, Pacioretty could be seen as the logical fall guy for the organization as a first-year captain without enough experience to guide the team through tough stretches.
Wow. Worded like that, that reasoning seems almost flawed, as if the only way for him to have experience is to get it… but, you know what, let’s move on:
It’s become abundantly clear the Habs need a new voice in the locker room. You know, someone like P.K. Subban… who’s been with the team for parts of seven seasons.
Now, he’s true captain material… so much so in fact that he already wears a letter and is free to help lead this team in conjunction with Pacioretty, just like Brendan Gallagher… and Tomas Plekanec… and Andrei Markov… and anyone else currently on the team who feels the need to lead by example.
So, before any more time is wasted, rip that single, purely symbolic letter from off Pacioretty’s jersey right away and give it to someone who actually knows how to enchant it with magical powers.
Pro: Pacioretty Doesn’t Get It Done
The simple fact of the matter is Pacioretty just doesn’t get it done. We know this because Guy Lafleur said so after one playoff run, arguing the Habs would never win anything with him. You know, right after Montreal won two playoff rounds?
Forget how in a near-retraction Lafleur commended Pacioretty on his play the following season. The stats speak for themselves: In four games played against the Ottawa Senators during the team’s five-game first-round exit in 2013, Pacioretty was held pointless.
Sure, he missed one game due to a separated shoulder, but a true leader would have played through the pain… uh, which he did in the aforementioned other games, even going so far as to not offer up excuses for his or the team’s performance. The nerve to talk out of turn like that! He wasn’t even captain then.
The following season, the one in which the Habs won two playoff rounds? He only scored 11 points in 17 games and of those 11, only five… FIVE were goals. That’s less than 25 over an entire season! Why is this guy still around? They traded away Rene Bourque, when he scored eight!
And the next postseason? He scored even fewer points! Admittedly, he did play far fewer games, but whose fault is that? Even if his point-per-game clip was actually on par with his production the previous year?
Even if his five markers this postseason not only represented a boost from his goal production in 2013-14, but were good enough—sorry, bad enough—to lead the team, that doesn’t take away from the matter at the heart of this debate that… uh…
Where was I?
Pro: Look at Where the Kings (and Sharks) Are
Right, the Kings are NHL royalty these days. And if they and the finalist San Jose Sharks for that matter feel the need to force a game of musical chairs on their players until they find a leadership combination that works, potentially shaving years off their window to win a championship in the process, so be it.
They must have a good reason, after all. It’s obviously worked… in this specific instance. Sure, the Sharks might not have won anything yet, literally, with this being the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final and a stacked Eastern Conference offensive powerhouse in their way, but get this:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have serious leadership issues themselves, haven’t you heard? The fools, going with the traditional approach of sticking with a given captain through thick and thin, after he’s won the team a single Stanley Cup. What are they thinking?
I swear, they even opted to switch head coaches when things weren’t working out instead of giving someone else the captaincy. And they must have deep-seated issues, psychological trauma even, having done the exact same thing just before they won their last championship too, firing what’s his name to give Dan Bylsma the reins.
Who does that? Really? Aside from the Sharks of course, last summer… and the Kings who won the first championship in franchise history the season they hired Darryl Sutter?
Who else, I mean? Definitely not the Canadiens. No need to worry there.
None that I can think of. Let’s get ‘er done!
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has also written for the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently writes about all things Habs for THW, with it being a career highlight for him to have covered the 2021 Stanley Cup Final as a credentialed member of the press.