Sep 132010

After a meeting with Mike Gillis this morning, Roberto Luongo has given up the Canucks captaincy.

Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that goaltender Roberto Luongo has decided he will relinquish his role as team captain. Luongo’s leadership remains important to the club’s continued success and he will continue to support teammates with his work ethic, discipline and desire to win.

“Roberto has been an excellent captain for our team the past two seasons,” said Mike Gillis. “We respect and support his decision to relinquish the captaincy and are confident that he will continue to help lead our team through his tremendous character and work ethic both on and off of the ice.”

“I am honoured to have served as captain of the Vancouver Canucks for the past two seasons,” said Roberto Luongo. “Being captain in a Canadian city for a team with such passionate fans is a privilege and an experience I will always take pride in. I will continue to be a leader on this team and support my teammates the same way I always have while focusing on our ultimate goal.”

As controversial as it was at the time Luongo succeeded Markus Naslund as Canucks captain, there was little doubt that he possessed – possesses – the traits that make him a good captain. He was the Canucks’ best player – in fact one of the best players in the NHL – and the team’s emotional leader. He was vocal on and off the ice and, win or lose, didn’t shy away from the media spotlight in this hockey-mad city. He was (is) active in the community and took over Nazzy’s Suite Corner, a suite that gives sick and underprivileged kids the opportunity to watch Canucks games at Rogers Arena. Officially or unofficially he was already one of the team’s leaders; the question wasn’t whether or not he deserved the “C” but rather if it was the right move to also add the weight of the captaincy to his big shoulders.

Whether or not Luongo wanted to give up the “C”, the fact that he did only adds to the argument that he is a good leader. Whether or not he thought the weight of the captaincy took away from his own play, he realized it created a distraction to the team. And as any good leader would do, he shoved his ego aside and put his team’s well-being ahead of his own.

Over the next week or so, the next great debate in Canucks Nation will center on potential Luongo replacements. Certainly, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler have to be the front-runners, and both already served as alternate captains last season. Henrik is a quiet and assertive leader; Kesler is a bit more emotional. Personally, I’d give Henrik the nod but only because I think he’s calmer and more mature than Kesler is at this point of their careers. He’s widely-respected, not only in his own dressing room, but by his peers from other teams as well.

If you look at the list of recent Stanley Cup champions and their captains – Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer, Rod Brind’amour, Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Dave Andreychuk – all are respected, quiet and lead-by-example types by nature, but still able to command the attention of the room. Henrik fits the same mould, and IMHO anyway, deserves the captaincy just as much.

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  • Sternip

    Good news! I was worried this wouldn’t happen but I think it will be for the good of the whole team, including Luongo himself. At least he’s had the chance to make history as the first goalkeeper captain.

    I really hope Kesler becomes captain – I think he might be the less popular choice, but he’s a player that could be captain for years to come, there’s no issue of getting on over on a brother (not that I actually think that would be an issue for the Sedins), he’s got all the qualities, has been a team captain before and is a more determined presence on the ice than Henrik (not to say that Henrik isn’t determined, but you don’t see him get quite as passionate as Ryan can). I guess the only issue is ice time, as he’s never going to play on the first line.

    It’s a shame what happened to Willie Mitchell, because he would have been my first pick this time last year,

  • J.J. Guerrero


  • J.J. Guerrero

    Kesler is definitely more emotional than Henrik, on the ice and off it. I’m not sure yet though if that’s a good or bad thing. I mean, I think back to Kes’ post-game interviews and he’s always so happy after wins (I remember there was that one clip of him and SOB dancing after one playoff game) and always brooding after a loss. I don’t know… Maybe it’s just me but I prefer someone who is more even-keel in fear that the rest of the team – and especially the fans and media – feed off his roller coaster of emotions.

    It’s weird though eh? We have 2 guys who are legitimate captain material and they couldn’t be more different. At the end of the day, I guess it’s just a matter of them identifying the kind of captain they need – the quiet but assertive type or a more aggresive, more emotional one.

  • Sternip

    Yeah, it’s a question of philosophy I guess, and both though I agree are legitimate captain material, neither are the perfect candidates. Do you think though there’s any chance that Kesler feels more free to be like that at the moment because he’s not the captain? To be fair, as I live in the UK I don’t get to see players interviewed as much as you do.

    Do you think giving the captaincy to Henrik could be a lot of extra pressure to put on someone coming off a season like he’s had?

    What’s the chance of a surprise move for Daniel Sedin? I think that would give most people a chuckle! :)

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