Assuming Montreal and Brian Gionta part ways after this season, who should follow in the footsteps of Saku Koivu, Jean Béliveau, Doug Harvey, Bob Gainey, et al?
Now let me begin first by stating I like Brian Gionta, I like what he brings to the table, I like his defensive abilities and experience, but us Hab fans are well aware of the short-comings (not a pun I swear) of this team and the time is now to change that image.
Brendan Gallagher isn’t going anywhere and although I’d be ok with David Desharnais moving on, that’s highly doubtful and that means there’s two guys still in your top six under 6 feet. If Gionta was to be kept moving forward (also not a pun), not only would you have to assume he’d be willing to take a significant pay-cut like down to the $3 million/year range from his current $5 million/year salary, but he’d also have to be willing to play on your third line. However, then we’re heading into next season with five guys (Brière, Gionta, Desharnais, Gallagher and Plekanec) under 6 feet tall in your top nine AGAIN. This just isn’t feasible.
So moving forward assuming Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien thank Gionta for his contributions and efforts and drive him to Trudeau airport for his flight back to New Jersey, who takes over the “C”?
Looking at this current roster I see honestly three serious candidates – Josh Gorges, Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec and a couple that will get consideration – Brandon Prust and PK Subban.
Now I love Brandon Prust he will run through a wall for his team but he’ll never be captain, some people say it should be your best player and while that is without a doubt PK Subban, he is nowhere near ready for that responsibility. He might have the personality for it and will probably be the Habs captain someday, but not right now. First, he has to sign that monster contract so we know he’s staying and time needs to pass in order to stop hearing about his alleged maturity issues. Josh Gorges is another Prust, a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, but the stay-at-home defenceman is not your typical NHL captain, and Josh Gorges is no Rod Langway, Scott Stevens, Adam Foote or Chris Chelios.
Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec are probably the top two choices as they have been a Hab for their whole careers, drafted by Montreal and brought up through the Montreal system, are one of their better players and have the personality to handle the Montreal media gauntlet. Andrei Markov has had a major positive effect on the young players of the Habs blueline over the years (ask Mike Komisarek how is bank account is looking), loves being a Hab and was in the discussion before Gionta was named Montreal’s 28th captain (thank goodness Scott Gomez wasn’t chosen… yeesh). Tomas Plekanec has definitely proven to be one of the game’s best two-way forwards and seriously deserves a Selke nomination this year. He consistently plays against the opposing teams’ best players and remains a plus player, has a surprising knack for scoring the winning goal or at a minimum setting the tone for it, just ask Chicago and Columbus from earlier this season, and the Czech Republic Olympic team seems to think he’s Captain material.
My choice is Tomas Plekanec and since he is signed through the 2015/2016 season, whether he stays then or not who knows, but maybe at that point PK Subban is ready to lead the Habs.
By Andrew Anderson @AndrewJA9