Just like every ship, a hockey club needs a skipper. The type of player that can lead a team to victory, and get them out of the gutter when they’re losing. Heck, the Canadiens just traded for one. Captains like Jonathan Toews, John Tavares, and Sidney Crosby act as coaches on the ice. Players consistently look for direction during a game, and having a leader who understands all facets is key to a team succeeding. Las Vegas is no different, and will need true guidance from their first ever captain.
Over the next six months or so, I’ll start examining who could be the captain in Las Vegas. Back in December I wrote about the LA Kings outgrowing Captain Dustin Brown. Well, we now know that is the case after they stripped the “C” off his sweater and handed it to Selke winner Anze Kopitar. Tough to argue with the Kings brass, especially after another lousy statistical season for Brown. However, my argument was never about numbers with DB.
I still think he’d be an effective captain because he’s a leader on and off the ice. His play may not result in points, but every player on the ice is a better player because of Brown. His physical style protects teammates as opponents shy away. Not too mention, every star the Kings have (Kopitar, Doughty, Quick) have all credited Brown for leading them to two Stanley Cup victories. Arguably the best center and defenseman have been impacted by DB’s leadership. That’s the type of captain Las Vegas needs, a hard-working respected player.
Okay, so not many were sold on my Dustin Brown love, and I understand. Like I said, four-straight seasons of 30 points or less is very underwhelming. So you need more firepower for your Las Vegas captain? Okay how does 82 points last season sound? Or 65 points in 2014-15, and 76 in 2013-14? Those numbers sound fantastic, but why would they be available? Easy, age and money.
Jumbo Joe Thornton is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, and was a big factor in San Jose’s Cup bid. However, San Jose might take advantage of Thornton’s expiring NMC and expose him to expansion. Las Vegas would then be in position to do one of two things with Thornton; 1) Select him and sign him to a deal prior to July 1st OR 2) Do not select him and hope he signs with Vegas after July 1st.
A very interesting scenario could play itself out, and benefit Las Vegas no matter what. Landing Thornton would be a no brainer as a brand new club looking for veteran leadership. Joe Pavelski might wear the “C” but Thornton is still an important voice for the Sharks. Thornton would have no issue directing Las Vegas right out of the gate. His next contract won’t break the bank, and he wants to play into his 40’s. He’s well respected around the league with players, officials, and fans.
I truly believe he would be honored to wear the first “C” in Las Vegas. Plus he may give us more gems like this after a game.