It’s a long running tradition in the NHL that when a team wins the Stanley Cup, the cherished trophy is first presented to the team captain, who is the representative of his respective squad. It’s always exciting to watch that player displaying the ‘C’ on his jersey step up to the commissioner’s table and proudly except the most special prize in all of sports. But what happens if a team hasn’t appointed a captain, despite being deep in a playoff run? Such is the case for the surprising Montreal Canadiens. So just how did this Captain-less team get to this point?
Their defensive trapping style is one of the main reasons the NHL shut down for a season and implemented new rules. The game was excruciatingly boring and dull, and lacked offensive excitement. But it seems Montreal and their coach Jacques Martin have successfully resurrected a form of the trap, still used by teams such as the New Jersey Devils and the old Minnesota Wild. Or Jacques Lemaire coached teams. Yes, the Canadiens walked into the NHL playoffs and removed two of the most exciting teams in hockey. Of course having an extremely hot goalie hasn’t hurt either. But I digress. Their style of play, while suffocating and frustrating, has been very effective, and they essentially went from being the underdog eighth seed to the favorites to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Finals. So should the upstart Habs complete a fairytale story, and capture Lord Stanley’s mug, which player will have the honor of excepting the trophy?
One wonders if the coaching staff of the Canadiens have the thought in the back of their minds that they may have the wonderful conundrum of selecting a player to except the cup. Playoff run or not, no doubt there is at least a couple of players on the list of potential captains. The three leading candidates could possibly be sniper Mike Cammaleri or one of the shutdown defensman Hal Gill or Josh Gorges. But with the way Cammaleri has been playing, leading the team, engaging the media, and reveling in his opportunity to wear the blanc, bleu et rouge, he seems like the obvious choice. If Montreal advances to the Finals, which they have a very good chance of doing, it might be the time to appoint a captain. It’s clear that wearing the ‘C’ in Montreal is a huge honor and something not to be taken lightly, but would this team accept the Cup by committee? Hopefully not, because despite a rabid fanbase and cherished history, the Habs aren’t above anything, and need to carry on the tradition and name a Captain. Would it be a distraction? Maybe, but it might give even more motivation for the Habs to win, as if they don’t already have enough. This team is brimming with confidence and they continue to get better which each passing game. They still don’t know who they will face in the Conference finals, and there have been a lot of question as to which team they match up best with. But at this point, it’s almost as if it doesn’t matter who they face, because this team has destiny written all over it, and captain or not, the Habs have all the tools to challenge for the Cup. Look out NHL.