The Captaincy: There’s No Rush

Jonathan Willis
August 29 2013 09:44AM

Thanks to our own Wanye Gretz, everybody’s talking about who the Edmonton Oilers’ next captain should be. Should it be one of the team’s young stars? Should it be Sam Gagner? Should it be a veteran like Andrew Ference?

I can’t help thinking there’s no rush to make a decision.

No Rush: Part One

It’s been made clear over the summer that rookie head coach Dallas Eakins will be the guy deciding who will captain the Oilers now after the departure of Shawn Horcoff. He’s new to the group, and it only makes sense that he wait until he’s seen them together in training camp, talked to the various candidates (and heard from other players about the various candidates) and just generally observed the team.

No Rush: Part Two

The other issue is that it might make sense to consider something other than a full-time, permanent captain at this point (something Jason Strudwick has suggested here previously). So far, there has been no indication that the Oilers are considering a rotating captaincy or a group of alternates without a designated captain, but it’s an idea that in my view has some merit.

First, the caveat. I was asked the other day by a very smart guy what I thought of the potential of Sam Gagner as captain. I told this person that I really didn’t know because I think it’s extremely difficult for an outsider to answer that question. To what degree the captaincy matters it matters inside the dressing room, and without a really good feel for the mix of personalities it’s difficult to be certain which player is the best fit for the role.

With that said, the sense that I get is there is a lack of certainty about who the best choice is. Taylor Hall’s exceptional 2013 campaign has established him as the best young player on the team right now. A year ago, Jordan Eberle would have been the consensus pick as the best of the bunch and as the team’s only full-time alternate was seemingly the favourite to be the captain in the future. Andrew Ference seems to be highly regarded and is joining the team from an extremely successful Bruins’ club, but he’s also 34 years old. Sam Gagner has been praised by general manager Craig MacTavish for his character but seems a step below the team’s upper tier skill-wise. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seems universally praised as a mature young man and though he hasn’t been mentioned often in this context a year from now that might be a very different story.

To me, it’s a group that seems well-suited to the old Jacques Lemaire strategy of having a rotating captain. If there is a reluctance to name one of the younger stars captain now, it saves the team from the installation and subsequent tricky removal of a short-term veteran captain while at the same time offering those young players a sort of trial run. It also stresses group leadership and allows the coach to reward especially compelling performances. With the five players named above, plus Nick Schultz and Ladislav Smid there seems to be no shortage of potential candidates for such a system, and unlike in Minnesota it would be a run with a definite end date – after one season, doubtless the choice for the permanent captaincy would be clearer.

I don’t expect the Oilers to go this route, but it wouldn’t bother me in the least if they did.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Canucks Army, the very funny Graphic Comments asks what the problem is with Tony Gallagher calling Roberto Luongo a diva:

I mean, really, doesn't every team want their starting goalie to be a highly distinguished performer that plays a leading role for them? Yes, but the Canucks are the only ones that can ice a goalie of Italian heritage, thereby making the "diva" label highly appropriate.

Click the link above to read more, or check out some of my recent stuff:

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
Avatar
#51 MessyEH!
August 29 2013, 05:47PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
7
props
The Soup Fascist wrote:

Another way to be sleeping with the fishes .....

Making the mistake of calling WANYE, WAYNE.

Nice knowing you, MessyEH!.

*Whistles nervously and hopes Wanye does not think he actually knows MessyEH!.

*Gulps nervously* Pacing back and forth he has only one thought. "Heres hoping Wanye is disgusted by the smell of a grown mans urine."

Avatar
#52 Walter Sobchak
August 29 2013, 09:02PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
7
props

Hall should be captain.

That is all.

Avatar
#53 David S
August 29 2013, 10:55AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
+1
6
props
Sanaa Montana wrote:

If Gagner is named captain, then, Omark needs to be one of his assistants.

Only reason the Oilers would name Gagner captain is because they wouldn't want to choose between the four kids who run the team and the team belongs to.

Captains are leaders, Gagner is a fortunate son.

"The skilled can fill their people with energy to confront the emptiness of others, while the incompetent drain their people in face of the fullness of others." Since Gagner joined the Oilers. they have done nothing but sucked. Gagner didn't fill anyone with hope, nor did he make any of his teammates better.

Gagner is not a leader, never has been. He never took a game over in the 7 years he's been on the Oilers. He only performs when he's got a line to ride on. On his own Gagner is average at best.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWruORVacD8

Avatar
#54 Czar
August 29 2013, 12:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
6
props
cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

gosh, must be nice to be around the team and in the room.

or, are you trying to determine leadership qualities by watching the games on Sportsnet?

Fact is, none of us have any clue what happens in the room. Gagner could be developing into the type of guy behind the scenes that could captain material.

I will defer to the guys that, you know, are around the team all the time and have played the game to know what a "leader" is.

Might be a second tier fan but that's a first rate opinion.

Or as spyder said "unless you are an insider you are just guessing."

Avatar
#55 The Soup Fascist
August 29 2013, 04:05PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
6
props

I think it should be just like many minor hockey teams. Coach's kid is captain, gets to wear #9 (sorry Andy), and is 1st line centre.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 14th Captain in Oiler's history .......

WILL ACTON!!!!

Avatar
#56 Dangilitis
August 29 2013, 04:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
6
props

@MessyEH!

Last time the Oilers had those odds of winning the Cup, it was 05-06 season. I know, because my friend bought me a $10 ticket in October when he was in Vegas (for the record, I was more choked that the team lost than the fact that I had already spent the extra $300 in my head)... So another deep run in the playoffs would be fantastic, DSF. I get your point about public opinoin, but that's why the games are played.

A lot of pundits said the Oil were going to do a lot better last year, which was way premature. Maybe they don't want to make a risky be again, but Etem, Silfverberg, Smyth-Pelley, Palmieri, Holland, Marroon and Vatanen are just as risky. Losing Selanne and Souray, and needing Cogliano and Koivu to be as good as last year is also unlikely.

Avatar
#57 The Soup Fascist
August 29 2013, 05:33PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
6
props
Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Now wait! Is this sarcasm?!?...cause Fascists don't typically care about fairness and explaining themselves....

I am only an autocratic autoritarian when it comes to French Onion, Mulagatani and Chicken Noodle soups as well as Seinfeld trivia. Otherwise I am pretty (small "l") liberal in my thinking.

Avatar
#58 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
August 29 2013, 05:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
6
props

But seriously, and I'm not being sarcastic, I'm trying to understand your argument Gord.

From listening to what you had to say on 1260 and your posts here, and please correct me if I'm wrong or missing the point....you're asserting that Wanye is blowing smoke...and you are concerned that his starting this rumour about the captaincy will lead to a ground swell of support for the idea...to the point where Oilers management will cave to the pressure of public sentiment and as a result, name Gagner as the next Captain of the Oil?

Avatar
#59 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
August 29 2013, 05:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
6
props

The reason I think this topic is so devisive is because there is an element of the Oilers fan base that like or love Gagner and would like to see him rewarded .....and there's the other, albeit smaller, element that would like to see Gagner traded for "the big center"......and if they give Gags the C......he won't be part of that trade.

Avatar
#60 trentonl
August 29 2013, 10:39AM
Trash it!
33
trashes
+1
5
props

Ference will be a buyout candidate by the end of his contract. Huge mistake to pick him.

If not Gagner or Hall then Smyth should be the placeholder till one is ready.

Avatar
#61 Sanaa Montana
August 29 2013, 10:50AM
Trash it!
40
trashes
+1
5
props
Batfink wrote:

lol, beat me to it!

Don't worry. Go ahead, mention it again.

Avatar
#62 WILDTHING
August 29 2013, 01:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
5
props

Eakins is the one making the choice. He is new to the team and has never seen any of the players in a team atmosphere. I personally think there is no rush. There is more to captaincy than just wearing a "C". He has to do the extra curricular activities like plan the functions, team meetings, be respected between his peers and act as a liaison between the players and the coaches. (Which may not be what one of the kids needs right now). As a fan it really should not matter to us who wears the "C" (unless you are a 10yr old) as none of us are privy to what actually does go on between the players themselves. See Horcoff, Moreau, Buchberger, Smith, MacT and Fogolin.

Avatar
#63 Senator Theo
August 29 2013, 01:21PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
5
props

I don't really care who gets names captain. I don't think it should make that much difference to fans.

Hall is a great choice for obvious reasons, Ference too for that matter.

Sam also great qualities that you want in a leader. It also doesn't hurt that he can score anywhere between 0 and 8 points per game.

What's most important is that the players buy in to whomever is named.

Avatar
#64 Spydyr
August 29 2013, 01:42PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
+1
5
props
Larry wrote:

I don't think to many of us bloggers spend much time in the oil dressing room. Let the coach decide.

Really, I expected Eakins to contact each and every one of us for our opinions.

It is the dog days of summer let the diehard fans have a bit of fun.

Avatar
#65 Spydyr
August 29 2013, 12:59PM
Trash it!
9
trashes
+1
4
props
Batfink wrote:

I believe the qualifier for the statement was "Gagner is not a leader, never has been. He never took a game over in the 7 years he's been on the Oilers." Please include the context. Lowe was in a diatribe about his hockey knowledge. To my knowledge, Sam has never blown his own trumpet about that night.

Nope what the qualifier is winning six rings means so much more than getting 8 points in a regular season game.

You know what getting 8 points in a regular season game amounts to? Two points in the standing on a team that ended as a lotto pick. Big picture other than it being a shiny bauble it means next to nothing. Six Cup rings or a 8 point game what would you rather have?

Moving forward to today ,the past is the past, what you do next game is what really matters.

Avatar
#66 freelancer
August 29 2013, 04:51PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
4
props
Trentonl wrote:

I am saying choose Hall/Gagner. If they are too young in mgmt eyes then choose Smyth for this year and maybe one more if he plays another, then pass it to Hall. Ference will be dead weight by the end of his contract. Remember how it was to have Ethan Moreau as captain near the end....

I don't care if Smyth is captain for one season even, just a better pick then having Ference in his inevitable bad seasons.

The contradictions here are fantastic

Avatar
#67 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
August 29 2013, 05:23PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
4
props
The Soup Fascist wrote:

In fairness I should have highlighted the word SERIOUS, but I am too dumb to figure out fonts or bolding on this site and if I capitalize, PEOPLE THINK I AM YELLING!

And frankly I am too lazy to use the little wavy line thingamajig.

Now wait! Is this sarcasm?!?...cause Fascists don't typically care about fairness and explaining themselves....

Avatar
#68 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
August 29 2013, 07:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
4
props

The last couple of days of August are a wash with "man the summer is over." but on the other hand the fun is just about to begin. "mega stoked" With the young talent and Eakins passion for commitment this should be fun. As for a Captain I will pick the hardest worker and a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, Married to a local girl and has always given 100%

Vlad Smid

Avatar
#69 NJ
August 29 2013, 01:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
3
props

A couple things to consider: age is irrelevant if the leadership qualities have shown through in the past. Some players lead by example, others verbally. Crosby was a spoiled brat around the time he became a captain, I would suggest, because of his play on the ice. The sight of Hall bursting by a defense and snapping a goal is an inspiring sight and he plays hard. Toews: quiet leadership, inspiring play. Eberle has always been clutch, he always wants on the ice in pressure moments, a leader. I would also suggest that goin with old balls Smyth or Ference would be a mistake as it reminds me of Vinny Lecavalier and Alfredson. Smyth is done this year. It makes 0 sense.

Verbally: it's hard to say who could be the verbal leader simply because we don't know the locker room, or any locker room, but speaking from personal experience, it's always been more inspiring as a player to have someone go play his heart out, then run his mouth off and not put out on the ice.

I don't mind Gagner as the choice based on what I've heard about his work ethic and watching him drop the mitts makes me spill beverages all over my lap in my excitement to get on my feet. Not that my choice is being considered, darn you Dallas Eakins.

Avatar
#70 Trentonl
August 29 2013, 04:22PM
Trash it!
13
trashes
+1
3
props
Spydyr wrote:

Let me get this straight you are saying no to Ference because he will be "be a buyout candidate by the end of his contract" in say 3-4 years. Then you mentioned Smyth as a choice. No matter how much one loved Smyth he will be gone long before Ference.

I am saying choose Hall/Gagner. If they are too young in mgmt eyes then choose Smyth for this year and maybe one more if he plays another, then pass it to Hall. Ference will be dead weight by the end of his contract. Remember how it was to have Ethan Moreau as captain near the end....

I don't care if Smyth is captain for one season even, just a better pick then having Ference in his inevitable bad seasons.

Avatar
#71 Quicksilver ballet
August 29 2013, 07:24PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
+1
3
props

Instead of players handing out a cap/hat of some sort, or a silly jacket for an unsung hero of the game award. Why not give the chosen player of the game the C for the next game? Put some punch behind that award for the first couple months of the season/till a full time one is appointed by Dallas Eakins. Maybe now's the time to focus on effort/winning rather than irrelevant humour.

Avatar
#72 Devolution
August 29 2013, 11:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
3
props
The Last Big Bear wrote:

That is a highly unorthodox idea, but I honestly kind of like the sound of it.

I'm seriously tempted to try this with my men's league team.

The only problem with this approach, or any rotating captain approach, is that the captains duties are just not on the ice. I don't know how much, but there are duties to the league, player's association, etc. and it doesn't make sense to have people constantly rotating.

Avatar
#73 Reg Dunlop
August 30 2013, 12:07AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
3
props
Serious Gord wrote:

Pretty accurate from where I sit. (That and I think giving gagner the c send the wrong message to the franchise player)

Which franchise player are you referring to?

I am sure you mean Hall but my point is why wouldn't RNH or Ebs potentially feel slighted by being bypassed? Maybe by inferring that Hall is THE franchise player you could be unleashing a train of events that results in Huge demanding a trade to a team that appreciates him.

When does training camp start?

Avatar
#74 oilersnation
August 29 2013, 12:11PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
2
props
Spydyr wrote:

So you're saying be like Tambo and assess the situation for a year or two? Have we not had enough of trying to run things by doing nothing. I know I have.

Not my choice of the way to go.As you mentioned unless you are an insider you are just guessing. That being said, my guess would be Ference or Smid.

so is sam the captian

Avatar
#75 Serious Gord
August 29 2013, 04:25PM
Trash it!
14
trashes
+1
2
props
Wäx Män Riley wrote:

You don't want to know what happens when you disagree with Wanye

*Thinks about the time he disagreed with Wanye...goes back to sucking thumb in fetal position*

There are four possibilities: (please correct me if I am wrong)

Wanye:

1. Is exagerating (aka lying about) the sureness of the informant(s) who told him gagner will be captain.

2. 's informant(s) lied to him.

3. fabricated it from whole cloth (iow flat out lied)

4. was told the truth and the decision to make gagner the captain has been made.

The tone of jonathons post would indicate he thinks its one of the top three options. IOW someone is lying - either Wanye or wanye's informant(s).

Avatar
#76 Serious Gord
August 29 2013, 05:06PM
Trash it!
12
trashes
+1
2
props
The Soup Fascist wrote:

Dude, you are way too serious.

Dude - we are talking about multi-million dollar egos here. Asserting something as fact in regard to them is a serious thing.

Avatar
#77 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
August 29 2013, 05:52PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
2
props
The Soup Fascist wrote:

I am only an autocratic autoritarian when it comes to French Onion, Mulagatani and Chicken Noodle soups as well as Seinfeld trivia. Otherwise I am pretty (small "l") liberal in my thinking.

*in his best Homer Simpson voice*

Mmmmmmmmmmmm.....Mulagataniiiiiiiiiiiii.........

Avatar
#78 Freewheeling Freddie
August 29 2013, 06:00PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
+1
2
props

It only makes sense that Gagne would be the next captain because our captains always get traded. Someone has told me the Oilers thought of having a playing coach just like Bobby Hull and JC Tremblay . Also Yak for captain.

Avatar
#79 Serious Gord
August 29 2013, 11:21PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
+1
2
props
Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

But seriously, and I'm not being sarcastic, I'm trying to understand your argument Gord.

From listening to what you had to say on 1260 and your posts here, and please correct me if I'm wrong or missing the point....you're asserting that Wanye is blowing smoke...and you are concerned that his starting this rumour about the captaincy will lead to a ground swell of support for the idea...to the point where Oilers management will cave to the pressure of public sentiment and as a result, name Gagner as the next Captain of the Oil?

That's pretty much it. As I posted on Wanye's original thread, I think gagner would be a disaster for several reasons with the impact on hall being the most significant.

By possibly portraying gagner's captaincy as fact Wanye could be doing serious damage to the team.

If it is indeed fact, then MacT et al are bigger screw ups than even I thought they were. I truly do think that oil fans need to be vocal about what a bad idea this is - if Wanye is relaying the facts then maybe an uproar can reverse it.

Avatar
#80 gcw_rocks
August 31 2013, 10:51AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
2
props

This is a team that hired its last two head coaches and it's current GM without conducting a proper search. Why should we expect anything different in selecting a captain?

Avatar
#81 dano
August 29 2013, 10:52AM
Trash it!
17
trashes
+1
1
props

It would be funny if they gave the captaincy to one player for a certain amount of games for the season, say 20, therefore having 4 captains throughout the year.

Further they could put a stipulation that whichever player had the best record as captain for their 20 game stint would become the permanent captain.

Not a great measure of leadership, but it would be mighty entertaining...

Avatar
#82 The Last Big Bear
August 29 2013, 08:56PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
1
props
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Instead of players handing out a cap/hat of some sort, or a silly jacket for an unsung hero of the game award. Why not give the chosen player of the game the C for the next game? Put some punch behind that award for the first couple months of the season/till a full time one is appointed by Dallas Eakins. Maybe now's the time to focus on effort/winning rather than irrelevant humour.

That is a highly unorthodox idea, but I honestly kind of like the sound of it.

I'm seriously tempted to try this with my men's league team.

Avatar
#83 Serious Gord
August 29 2013, 11:26PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
1
props
Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

The reason I think this topic is so devisive is because there is an element of the Oilers fan base that like or love Gagner and would like to see him rewarded .....and there's the other, albeit smaller, element that would like to see Gagner traded for "the big center"......and if they give Gags the C......he won't be part of that trade.

Pretty accurate from where I sit. (That and I think giving gagner the c send the wrong message to the franchise player)

Avatar
#84 mayorblaine
August 29 2013, 03:42PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
+1
0
props

if we truly lived by the words "none of us spend any time in the locker room" then what the heck are we even discussing anything, anytime.

that's stupid saying. have an opinion. stick with it/change it, no matter just stop saying that. it's just dumb.

Avatar
#85 Serious Gord
August 29 2013, 03:47PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
+1
0
props

Jonathon :

You present the captaincy as still undecided.

Wanye presented it as fact that gagner will get the C.

Are you disagreeing with Wanye? And if so, why not say so above?

Avatar
#86 Quicksilver ballet
August 30 2013, 02:46AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Devolution wrote:

The only problem with this approach, or any rotating captain approach, is that the captains duties are just not on the ice. I don't know how much, but there are duties to the league, player's association, etc. and it doesn't make sense to have people constantly rotating.

In this day and age, where there's 3 support types for every one player on staff, I think these duties have been distributed to support staff whenever possible. Some things may still hinge on player input, but many of these mundane duties can be delegated to the support staffs.

I'm not speaking from experience of course, but teams go to great lengths to allow players to focus solely on on ice issues/duties.

Avatar
#87 Pucker
August 30 2013, 12:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
The Last Big Bear wrote:

That is a highly unorthodox idea, but I honestly kind of like the sound of it.

I'm seriously tempted to try this with my men's league team.

I coach young kids and find this very effective.

Wouldn't work with The Oiler's but it's great for kids.

Avatar
#88 Spydyr
August 30 2013, 01:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Trentonl wrote:

I am saying choose Hall/Gagner. If they are too young in mgmt eyes then choose Smyth for this year and maybe one more if he plays another, then pass it to Hall. Ference will be dead weight by the end of his contract. Remember how it was to have Ethan Moreau as captain near the end....

I don't care if Smyth is captain for one season even, just a better pick then having Ference in his inevitable bad seasons.

Smyth is in inevitable bad seasons right now.It is sad and hard to watch such a great warrior running down.

Avatar
#89 Big Dummy
August 30 2013, 07:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

But think of the poor bastards in charge of stitching on another "C" for every game. Give them a raise!

Comments are closed for this article.