Captain (ice hockey)
In ice hockey, the captain is the player designated by his team as the only person authorized to speak with the game officials regarding rule interpretations when he is on the ice. At most levels of play, each team must designate one captain and a number of alternate captains (usually two) who speak to the officials when the captain is on the bench. The captain wears a "C" on his jersey, while the alternate captains wear an "A".
Officially the captain has no other responsibility or authority, though depending on the league or individual team, he may have various informal duties, such as participation in pre-game ceremonies or other events outside of the game. As with most team sports that designate captains, the captain is usually a well-respected player and a de facto team leader.
Responsibilities and importance
According to International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and National Hockey League (NHL) rules, the only player allowed to speak with referees about rule interpretations is the captain, or, if the captain is not on the ice, an alternate captain.
Although the rules do not specify any other distinction between the captain and his teammates, the captain has numerous responsibilities to the team, particularly in North American professional hockey. The captain is a dressing room leader, and also represents the players' concerns to management. During the game, captains are expected to motivate their teams, particularly captains who are stars or franchise players.
The captain is often considered the primary representative of the team to the public, sometimes is responsible for organizing the team's social functions, and performing ceremonial on-ice functions such as award presentations or ceremonial faceoffs.
NHL teams need not designate the same player as captain from game to game, though most teams do. For instance in 1985, when Boston Bruins' captain Terry O'Reilly retired, Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton were named as co-captains of the team. Middleton wore the "C" during home games and Bourque for road games during the season's first half, and the two switched for the second half. This arrangement continued until Middleton retired in 1988 and Bourque became the sole captain. Some teams name two (such as the Buffalo Sabres during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 NHL seasons) or three (such as the Vancouver Canucks during the 1990–91 NHL season) captains for a season. Some teams rotate captains rather than keep one for an extended period of time (the Minnesota Wild rotated captaincy every one or two months until the 2009–10 season, when Mikko Koivu was named the first permanent captain since the franchise began). During each NHL game, however, only one player can officially be designated as captain.
Captains are selected by different means: in some instances, teams have held votes among their players to choose a team captain; on other occasions, the choice was made by team management. Captains are often chosen due to their seniority in the game, and years of service with their current club. However, franchise players — current or emerging stars — have also been named captains.
The rules of the IIHF, NHL and Hockey Canada do not permit goaltenders to be designated as on-ice captains, because of the logistical challenge of having the goaltender relay rules discussions between referees and coaches and then return to the crease. During the 1947–48 season, Bill Durnan, who was the Montreal Canadiens' captain, left the crease so often to argue calls that other teams claimed he was giving the Canadiens unscheduled timeouts. After the season, the NHL passed a rule barring goaltenders from performing the duties of captain, known as the "Durnan Rule." The Vancouver Canucks named goaltender Roberto Luongo as its captain during the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons, but the on-ice captain duties were delegated to his teammates. The NHL also bars playing coaches or playing managers from acting as captain or alternate captain. In the NCAA, there is no position-based restriction on the team captain.
Teams may designate alternate captains, often erroneously called "assistant captains". Alternate captains wear the letter A on their jerseys in the same manner that team captains wear the C.
In the NHL, teams may appoint a captain and up to two alternate captains, or they may appoint three alternate captains and no captain. A team commonly has three alternate captains when the team has not selected a captain, or when the serving captain is injured and misses a game. International and USA amateur rules don't allow this; they stipulate that "each team shall appoint a Captain and no more than two Alternate Captains." In the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and minor leagues under the jurisdiction of Hockey Canada, teams are allowed to have a captain with up to three alternate captains. If the team chooses to not appoint a captain, they are not permitted to appoint a fourth alternate captain. When the captain is off the ice or unavailable for the game, any alternate captain on the ice is responsible for fulfilling the captain's official role as liaison to the referees.
NHL teams may choose alternate captains from game to game or appoint regular alternate captains for the season. In North America, alternate captains perform many of the same leadership and team building roles as the captain. In the 1969–70 NHL season, the Boston Bruins had three alternate captains (Johnny Bucyk, Phil Esposito, and Ed Westfall) instead of a captain sporting the "C". However, as Bucyk was the most senior of the alternate captains, he was first one to be presented the Stanley Cup when the team won the championship in 1970 and 1972.
Designation on uniform
The letter "C" or "A" is attached to the jersey of the team's captain and alternate captains (commonly sewn at higher levels of play, though removable insignia exist so the "C" or "A" designation can be easily changed). The designation is traditionally placed on the left side of the jersey, though the IIHF, NHL, and NCAA rules specify only that it must be in a "conspicuous location on the front" of the player's jersey. Two teams in the NHL have jerseys with the designation on the right side, as the positioning of the crest on the front leaves insufficient space on the left for the letter: the Detroit Red Wings (regular jersey), and the Phoenix Coyotes (third jersey). The Buffalo Sabres' most recent third jersey, worn starting in the 2013–14 season, features the captains' patches on the sleeve of the jersey.
Steve Yzerman served as the captain of the Detroit Red Wings for twenty years (1986–87 to 2005–06) and 1,303 games during that time, the longest term in the history of the NHL by both years and games. Daniel Alfredsson holds the record as the longest serving European captain serving for 14 years- (1999–2000 to 2012–2013). The Boston Bruins' Ray Bourque was previously the longest-tenured captain in NHL history from 1985–86 to 1999–2000, being co-captain for the first three seasons. Brian Bellows was the youngest captain in NHL history, serving as the interim captain of the Minnesota North Stars from January 1984 until May 1984. The youngest permanent NHL captain in history is Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche, who became captain on September 4, 2012 at the age of 19 years, 268 days.
|Bellows, BrianBrian Bellows||Minnesota North Stars||September 1, 1964||January 10, 1984†||19 years, 131 days||Interim|
|Landeskog, GabrielGabriel Landeskog||Colorado Avalanche||November 23, 1992||September 4, 2012||19 years, 286 days||January 19, 2013||20 years, 57 days||Permanent|
|Crosby, SidneySidney Crosby||Pittsburgh Penguins||August 7, 1987||May 31, 2007||19 years, 297 days||October 5, 2007||20 years, 59 days||Permanent|
|Lecavalier, VincentVincent Lecavalier||Tampa Bay Lightning||April 21, 1980||March 1, 2000||19 years, 315 days||March 1, 2000||19 years, 315 days||Permanent|
|Toews, JonathanJonathan Toews||Chicago Blackhawks||April 29, 1988||July 18, 2008||20 years, 80 days||October 10, 2008||20 years, 164 days||Permanent|
|Yzerman, SteveSteve Yzerman||Detroit Red Wings||May 9, 1965||October 7, 1986||21 years, 151 days||October 9, 1986||21 years, 153 days||Permanent|
|Schoenfeld, JimJim Schoenfeld||Buffalo Sabres||September 4, 1952||September 1, 1974||21 years, 362 days||October 14, 1974||22 years, 40 days||Permanent|
† An exact date for Brian Bellows' captaincy has not yet been determined. The previous captain, Craig Hartsburg, was injured on January 3, 1984, and Bellows became interim captain shortly thereafter in January 1984.
Stanley Cup Finals
Charlie Gardiner was the first NHL captain born in Europe to lead his team to a Stanley Cup title (1934), Lars-Erik Sjoberg was the first NHL captain born and trained in Europe. Derian Hatcher became the first American-born captain to win the Stanley Cup in 1999. Daniel Alfredsson was the first European-born and trained captain to lead an NHL team to the Stanley Cup Final (2007), while Nicklas Lidstrom was the first captain born and trained in Europe to lead an NHL team to a Stanley Cup title (2008), followed by Zdeno Chara (2011). Mark Messier was the first NHL player to win the Stanley Cup as captain of two different teams: the Edmonton Oilers in 1990 and the New York Rangers in 1994. Sidney Crosby became the youngest captain to win the Stanley Cup in 2009.
Dirk Graham became the first NHL captain of African descent when he was named captain of the Chicago Blackhawks in March 1989. Jarome Iginla, who became captain of the Calgary Flames in 2003, has been cited by ESPN as the first black captain in NHL history.
In NHL history, there have been six goaltenders who served as official team captains:
- John Ross Roach (Toronto St. Patricks): 1924–25 season
- George Hainsworth (Montreal Canadiens): 1932–33 season
- Roy Worters (New York Americans): 1932–33 season
- Alex Connell (Ottawa Senators): 1932–33 season
- Charlie Gardiner (Chicago Black Hawks): 1933–34 season
- Bill Durnan (Montreal Canadiens): latter half of 1947–48 season
The Hockey Hall of Fame displays a picture of Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Turk Broda wearing the Captain's "C", but he never actually served in that capacity, and he was actually wearing Toronto team Captain Syl Apps' sweater.
Prior to the 1948–49 season, the NHL made a change to the rules, prohibiting goalies from being captains or alternate captains. This was in response to complaints from opponents of the Montreal Canadiens, who complained that Durnan left his crease to argue with the referee at strategic points during games, resulting in unscheduled timeouts. This rule is sometimes referred to as the "Durnan Rule".
Although the Canucks appointed Roberto Luongo as its team captain for the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons, since he could not be his team's official on-ice captain, Willie Mitchell acted as the official on-ice captain, serving as liaison to the officials, and Henrik Sedin and Mattias Ohlund performed ceremonial aspects of the position such as pre-game faceoffs.
- Captain (sports)
- List of current NHL captains and alternate captains
- List of current AHL captains
- List of current SHL captains and alternate captains
- List of Team Canada captains
|Positions on the hockey rink|
|Power forward | Enforcer | Grinder | Pest | Captain | Head coach | Referee & linesman|
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- 1986–87 Detroit Red Wings season showing their first game played on October 9, 1986 at the Quebec Nordiques and Steve Yzerman's career stats showing he played in all 80 games that season.
- "Class of 1996, Jim Schoenfeld, Buffalo Sabres Defenseman". 2009-04-15. "In September 1974, at age 22, Schoenfeld became the NHL's youngest captain..."
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- "Next captain of the Canucks is Luongo". 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-10-01.