The poll is closed and the results are in. 118 of you voted on who should be the next captain of the Colorado Avalanche (if anyone) and the clear winner is veteran defenseman Adam Foote. Footer received 45% of the vote. Young center Paul Stastny pulled 23% and long-time Avalanche winger Milan Hejduk got 10%. As for the open-ended "Other" choice of players to wear the C, only one person voted for it. Who would they have preferred? Darcy Tucker?
Interestingly, the choice for the Avs to leave the C off anyone's jersey for a year in honor of departing franchise hero Joe Sakic received 19% of the vote, good enough for third overall in the poll behind Foote and Stastny.
Without a doubt the most experienced player on the team is Foote, who has been playing in the NHL since 1991-92 when he joined the Quebec Nordiques as a rookie defenseman. Since then, he's been a long-time letter-wearer, having been an alternate captain for the Avalanche during his initial and current runs with the team as well as captain during his nearly three season stay in Columbus with the Blue Jackets. Foote is known both for his defensive ability and his leadership skills and would be the obvious choice for the Avs to replace Sakic.
Paul Stastny has been playing in the NHL for three seasons now, but while the skilled center no doubt has the right pedigree and a ton of talent, he'd never been put into a leadership position by the Avalanche until the 2008-09 season. He wore an A on his jersey briefly before injuries ruined almost the entire rest of the year for him. While he's probably the best player on the Avalanche right now, he's hardly the most seasoned.
Milan Hejduk is the other player on the Avalanche with the most experience in Colorado, and has never played for another team. While he's worn the A for varying stretches of time in the past, he's not particularly known for his leadership skills. Hejduk has always been considered a quiet guy. On the ice, he's often played the role as right wing sidekick to future Hall of Fame centers Sakic and Peter Forsberg (and more recently, Stastny). Hejduk has never stood out as the captain type, not to say that he couldn't do it if asked.
Honestly, I'd be very surprised if the Avalanche picked anyone other than Foote to be captain next season, if they pick anyone at all. Not to say Terry Frei might not have a point about Foote's limited future in the league making Stastny a better long-term choice, but it seems like Footer has earned at least one year as the top dog in the locker room.
I doubt the Avs will go the "Empty C" route considering how young the team is now and how daunting the season ahead will be as they continue their efforts to rebuild. Even with three alternates (likely Foote, Hejduk and Stastny), it might be tough rallying the troops just to lose most nights without a designated number one guy on the ice. I have a feeling we'll see Footer wearing the C out of training camp in September.