We don’t yet know who will overtake Henrik Sedin as the 14th captain in Canucks history, but we do know he’ll have some big shoes to fill.
The Sedin twins shocked the hockey world by announcing their retirement on Monday, and in doing so, the Canucks will lose its two biggest leaders and arguably the two greatest players the franchise has ever had.
Henrik took over from Roberto Luongo as captain before the 2010-11 season and the franchise enjoyed some of their most successful seasons in history during the earlier half of his eight-year tenure. Daniel, meanwhile, has served as an assistant captain for the same duration.
It won’t be easy, but someone has to
replace succeed Henrik as the team’s captain.
Here we look at three potential candidates who could rep the ‘C’ in Vancouver next year.
1. Bo Horvat
If it were up to me, the next captain would be Bo Horvat.
The 22-year-old has endured four seasons with the Canucks thus far, and what he’s accomplished in that time should not be undervalued. The ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Horvat has shattered every limitation that has been put on him to this point in his career.
They said he was too slow, so he worked to make his speed a strength.
They said he didn’t have the offensive upside to be a first-line centre, and he’s now produced back-to-back 20 goal seasons.
They said his defensive game wasn’t good enough, so he put in the work to improve there last summer as well.
The key factor with Horvat is he represents the gap between the old and the new core.
Joining the team full-time in 2014, Horvat has seen this team transition in a way Boeser has not. Horvat was the first teenager to make the team since Ryan Kesler back in 2003-04, and he represents the first young player of this new core to come in and make a major impact.
He’s been through a management and coaching change. He’s experienced slumps and learned how to break through them. He’s played in the playoffs. He’s done and seen a lot of things that Boeser simply hasn’t had the opportunity to yet, and to me, that’s the big difference-maker.
Though he may not be as naturally gifted as Boeser, Horvat represents exactly what you want in a captain. He has an exceptional work ethic combined with a willingness to prove people wrong, and he’s also very well-spoken.
2. Brock Boeser
He may only have 71 NHL games under his belt, but 21-year-old goal scoring machine Brock Boeser certainly has a case for the next captaincy.
It worked out well the last time the Canucks made their best player captain, and after what transpired this season there’s no denying that Boeser is that.
In a season without much to cheer for, Boeser provided some badly needed hope for the future. It would make sense if he gets the ‘C’ to fully represent the new Canucks core the team is currently transitioning to.
Boeser has shown incredible poise, maturity, and confidence for a rookie, and those are all traits you want from your captain.
3. Alex Edler
If the Canucks want a veteran presence as their next captain, 31-year-old Alex Edler fits that bill.
After the Sedins officially retire, Edler will be the longest-serving Canuck on the roster. He’s played 755 games with the club over 12 seasons, and already serves as an assistant captain.
Now the franchise leader in points by a defenceman, Edler has spent more time than any current Canuck around the Sedins, and no doubt has learned a thing or two from them about leadership, hard work, and accountability.
Another option the Canucks have is to wait to assign a captain, delaying a decision until a young player emerges as a leader. Although this hasn’t been common in Canucks history (their only season without a captain was in 1974-75), it’s something other teams have done in recent memory.
Currently five NHL teams (Arizona, Buffalo, New York Rangers, Toronto, and Vegas) don’t have captains. The Maple Leafs have gone two years without one since trading Dion Phaneuf, though you can expect Auston Matthews to take that next season.
The Sedins have been the leaders of this team for a decade, so they could decide that giving the C to a young player right away would unnecessarily pile on pressure.
Linden on captaincy: You could do a leadership group. It certainly (also) puts the onus on the veteran guys, Sutter, Edler, Gudbranson, Del Zotto. And then you look to the young guys – Bo has been around four years and watched them every day. Perhaps he's ready to take that on.
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) April 4, 2018
Another option is to have co-captains, as the Canucks did after Stan Smyl retired in 1990. With Trevor Linden entering just his third NHL season, the Canucks rotated the C for one year to Dan Quinn, Doug Lister, and Linden. Linden took over as full-time captain the next season.
Regardless of who gets selected (and when) as the 14th captain in Canucks history, they’ll face the impossible task of replacing the franchise’s all-time leading scorer and one of the most respected faces in hockey.