Friday, 18 September 2015

The C Of The CH

As you can see to the left, Max Pacioretty was named as the captain of the Montreal Canadiens today despite some thinking that PK Subban would be the obvious choice. It's not hard to understand why the Canadiens selected Pacioretty as he is their most dynamic scorer, appears to be one of the players the Canadiens will keep under contract for a while, and is a highly recognizable figure. Some may struggle with an American being the captain of Les Habitants, but the previous captain was American in Brian Gionta and a Finn in Saku Koivu preceded him. The only question should be whether he can lead the Canadiens back to the glory land, and it seems he's the right man for the job.

Montreal has an MVP-caliber goaltender in Carey Price, and they boast a fairly skillful blue line. Mix in some good young talent up front that includes Pacioretty, and there's no reason not to believe that the Canadiens won't make a run at the Atlantic Division title once again. While a team can always use some additional offence, there's hope that the Canadiens will see a resurgence in Alexander Semin and some bigger contributions from power forwards Devante Smith-Pelly and Zack Kassian.

"In my mind it is the biggest honor," Pacioretty told reporters. "I just can't believe that I'll be put in the same category as the people before me. I really am honored, and that's what is the most shocking part about this for me; that I don't believe I belong in the same sentence as any of those 28 other captains."

Those other 28 names include the likes of Toe Blake, Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Bob Gainey, Chris Chelios, and Yvon Cournoyer. Those are some pretty incredible names to be included with, so Pacioretty will have to carry the torch as proudly and as high as these other men as he leads the 2015-16 version of the Montreal Canadiens back to the Stanley Cup. What made Pacioretty's first statement as captain of the Montreal Canadiens is that he did it entirely in French.

"It's very important for me," Pacioretty said of learning and speaking French. "This is my home now - me and my family take it very seriously. We call Montreal home and this is a big part of the culture. We understand that. So I've been getting classes for a year, and this should motivate me and my family to do even more. I hope to do so. I don't think I'm going to be perfect overnight, but I'm going to do the best I can."

GM Marc Bergevin announced that PK Subban, Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, and Brendan Gallagher will serve as alternate captains this season, so it's not like Pacioretty won't have the backing of some solid veterans in the room. Personally, giving Gallagher a letter was a wise choice as he's always chirping at teammates and opponents, and his words will carry meaning with him being an alternate captain now. Markov and Gallagher will serve as alternate captains together, and Plekanec and Subban will do so together. One pairing will wear the "A" on the road and the other at home, switching at midseason.

"Obviously it's a big honor, it's something that I'm proud of," Gallagher said to reporters while wearing a big grin. "But that said, it's not going to change the way I am or what I do. We have a room full of leaders. I don't need to do anything differently than what I've done the last three years."

If there was any question as to the NHL turning into a young man's game, three of the five men picked to captain the Canadiens are under the age of thirty. The captain of the Canadiens is a 26 year-old who, reportedly, was the choice of Elise Beliveau, the wife of the late Jean Beliveau. That alone should be the nod of approval he needs to get the Canadiens another ring on the Stanley Cup and keep the fire burning hot under the rest of the Canadiens.

It's nothing less than the highest honour when the wife of one of the greatest players to ever lace up the skates picks you to share the same role as her late husband who was often called the greatest captain of all-time.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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