By now you've heard that Milan Hejduk was named 3rd captain of the Avalanche today. The veteran would seem to be a logical choice to follow Joe Sakic and Adam Foote in wearing the C. Which begs the obvious question: why now?
In both today's press release, and the post-practice video interview and Skipper Joe Sacco praises Hejduk for being a leader both on and off the ice. I can't speak so much for the latter, but it sure has felt like the former has been desperately needed by the struggling young team. Sacco mentions a process; a need to evaluate which player steps up into a leadership role. That troubles me on a couple of levels.
There's a couple of scenarios you can draw up for this. Scenario 1: Sacco didn't know in September that Hejduk had the qualities to be team captain. Does that make much sense? After coaching Hejduk for two years, a light bulb suddenly went on in the comic book thought bubble over Sacco's head that made him go "wait a minute, I bet that Hejduk kid could be a good leader?" Err?
Scenario 2 is a little more troublesome and a lot more grassy knollish. In that imaginary situation, Sacco is aware of Hejduk's steady hand on and off the ice, but leaves the door open in case one of the young guns - Stastny, Duchene, O'Reilly, Johnson, et al - steps up their leadership game. The implied result being that none did (and note also that Sacco is still going to rotate the 2nd "A").
Personally, my vote is for scenario 3 whereupon our hero fails to recognize just how important a captain is to a fragile young team and quickly moves to make amends by doing what he should have done in September. I say process, schmrocess. If Hejduk is the choice for captain today, he should have been the choice for captain two months ago. Sacco named a captain today because the team is floundering and the ship needs to be righted before it slams into the rocks.
Is Hejduk the right call? I think so. Is it too late? Probably not - although headlines like "Avalanche settle on veteran Milan Hejduk as captain" don't exactly exude confidence in the timing, do they? I'm looking forward to seeing the team respond on the ice. Hopefully, they don't wait two months to do it...because the Avs are only two points away from 14th place in the conference.
PS: Hejduk's reaction video is worth watching just for movember mustache. I've always secretly been a little disappointed that Hejduk didn't do the playoff beard thing, so having him join his teammates (and this blogger) in the cheesy mustache movement warms my heart a little bit.