By Alex Cole (Sports Editor)
The Montreal Canadiens will not have a captain this year. Instead, they will have four assistant captains, two of whom will wear the “A” every single game. The decision was announced on Monday of last week during the team’s annual charity golf tournament. The four players named as assistant captains are veteran defenceman Andrei Markov, longtime forward Thomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, and rising star P.K Subban. Markov and Plekanec will wear the “A” every game, while Pacioretty and Subban will alternate their roles. For the first half of the season, Pacioretty will be the third assistant during away games, and Subban will wear the “A” during home games. The second half of the season will see Pacioretty and Subban swapping roles.
The decision to not name a captain was primarily made due to the fact that last year’s captain, Brian Gionta, and assistant captain, Josh Gorges, left the team to pursue contracts with the Buffalo Sabres. Habs General Manager Marc Bergevin says that this season will “be a transition year as far as leadership” and wants to ease the younger players into leadership roles. He also added that next summer, the organization will evaluate whether or not they want to name a captain or not.
Pacioretty and Subban are both excited to take on their newfound responsibilities. When asked about sharing the third “A” with P.K. Suabban, Pacioretty said, “I consider P.K. a very close friend and an unbelievable player, so it’s an honour for me to share a letter with him.” P.K Subban also commented on the matter by saying “we’re confident that we have many leaders, not just one. I think it’s a step forward for the team. And this way, it’s not a distraction.”
P.K Subban has been criticized in the past for his on-ice behaviour and style of play but believes his new leadership role will be good for his game. “I think responsibility […] holds a player accountable and ultimately makes him better,” said Subban. He also went on to say that he realizes that more will be expected of him this year as opposed to previous seasons.
The last time the Habs went without a captain was during the 2009-2010 season when long time Captain Saku Koivu left the team for the Anaheim Ducks. The franchise has had a rich history of Captains such as Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, and Maurice Richard. These will be big shoes to fill, and only time will tell whether or not the four new assistant captains can prove to be the leaders the franchise is looking for.