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"___ ___", You've Got the Helm.

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Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure,
Your mind on a new romance.
-Paul Williams and Charles Fox, The Love Boat


The ship is setting sail in less than a month (really?) but one big question remains: who will be at the helm. For the first time since arriving in Denver, the Colorado Avalanche enter training camp without a captain, thanks to the retirement of Joe Sakic. And, with the departure of Ryan Smyth and Ian Laperriere, Joe Sacco has a difficult decision ahead of him.

The favorite would have to be Adam Foote. We ran a poll not too long ago, and Foote was the top vote-getter. Footer is just 2 games away from playing in his 800th game in an Avalanche uniform, many of them with the Alternate's "A" on his chest. He's been a captain before (for Columbus) and would seem to have the best leadership qualities of the current roster. However, while Foote has been an absolute warrior with an important game on the line, he didn't seem to have that same intensitity on a lousy Avalanche team last year. Beyond that, Foote is only signed through the upcoming season, and it kind of sounds like he's already got his bags packed to leave even sooner. Add in the perhaps-faux intrigue over his departure from Columbus and Foote is not quite the slam dunk that perhaps he should be.

Another long-time veteran option would be Milan Hejduk. Hejduk has actually played in more games for the Avs than Foote, albeit in fewer seasons (Hejduk has avoided major injury, while Foote has paid the price for the physical game that he plays). Hejduk appears to be a very likeable guy in the locker room and has had noticeable on-ice chemistry with several of the younger players (Stastny, Wolski and Galiardi). He doesn't really strike me as a guy would relish a leadership role, though. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

And then you have Paul Stastny. His composure during interviews has been as noticeable as that loveable missing tooth. He's been annointed "future captain" pretty much from day one. But he's still just 23 years old and already has the pressure of replacing the great Joe Sakic on the ice. Do we really want to throw the added weight of captaincy on his shoulders? Stastny himself doesn't think he'd be a very vocal leader (from the same Terry Frei article linked above):
I'll do what I can to lead by example. I'm not the most vocal guy. Footie's more vocal. I try to lead by example and mature as both a player and a person every day, and I feel I have the last few years


Maybe I'm way off base here, but after years of Sakic's silent leadership, wouldn't it be nice to have someone a little more vocal in the locker room guiding the team. Someone like, you know, Ian Laperriere? *Sigh* I'm not knocking Stastny (or Sakic), but I really think this team needs someone leading them who will kick them in the ass from time to time. That's not Stastny and it's not Hejduk. It is Foote, for sure, but then there's all those potential caveats listed above.

It's also possible that no one will be named captain. The Maple Leafs did not name a captain last year after Mats Sundin...well, after Mats Sundin did whatever it was that he did last year. With no clear-cut candidate and out of deference to Sakic's years of leadership it may just be that no one wears the "C" for another season. Fittingly, 19% who voted in the poll (including myself) feel that "None Of The Above" will be chosen. Clearly, the hockey gods are working behind the scenes on this one.