The start of this upcoming season brings the Florida Panthers a number of challenges for new head coach Kevin Dineen, one of the “new” elements himself. With eleven new players signed, and the potential of youngsters Erik Gudbranson and Jonathan Huberdeau having an opportunity to make the club, this season is full of unknowns. It will be like one big puzzle needing to be put together as fast as possible. One of the first things on the new bench bosses’ plate has to be the selection of a team captain.
With so many changes and so much at stake this season (playoffs), this selection is either going to be met with welcome arms, or some serious doubts. In my mind the selection process for team captain is a rather simple and easy one. Before I tell you who I feel it should be, I will tell you why it shouldn’t be “someone” else. Of which you may draw your own conclusions to that statement.
First of all, I am in no way shape or form on the side of the fence where I believe in “giving” the C to someone just because they have been here for any significant length of time. Seniority has absolutely zero to do with this. Example being, if Jonathan Toews, or Jarome Iginla walked through that dressing room door for the first time, you can’t tell me that the captain for the team didn’t just make his entrance regardless of who is on the roster. You can toss the reasoning of seniority right out the window. Secondly, the player with this responsibility has to be a proven leader, a player that has been through the trenches, and has the voice that will be not only be heard, but be respected and listened to. By everyone. Officials on the ice as well.
Third, the captain has to have the gumption to stand up to the coach when he feels that the coach might be out of line, or needs to look at a situation differently. The captain needs to have the right mix of assertiveness, honesty, and likeability to be the leader of his team. Not everyone is captain material. Not everyone who has been a captain should have been a captain. Sometimes it’s by default because there’s no one else, but most of the time it’s because it’s the right decision. It doesn’t have to be popular, as popular doesn’t win games, and popularity should never force your hand in the decision making process.
The Panthers season is going to be a rocky ride, and there is going to be a boatload of pressure on them, especially if they start out slowly. This captain, whoever is ultimately selected, will need to be the “rock” for the team and be able to handle all the stresses of every situation that comes his way. All while keeping his game at the highest level. A player that youngsters like Big G can look up to, and a player that veterans like Jose Theodore and Brian Campbell respect. There are some significant factors that go into this decision and for Kevin Dineen to get this club off to a fast, and positive start, he needs to pick “his” guy. Whoever that is, because he’ll need to live with it all season. Dineen a former captain himself when he played will most likely pick a player that has similar attributes as he did. Hard working, tough to play against, nasty when he needs to be. Aggressive when the time is right. A take charge guy, and a voice that will be heard. If you think that this sounds like a player that was on the Panther roster last year, then we need to talk because, I don’t see it.
For me, this decision is pretty easy. Ed Jovanovski gets my vote and full endorsement as the new captain of the Florida Panthers. This is NOT a sentimental vote in any way shape or form. However for this season, this veteran defenceman is the only choice to be the teams’ leader both on the ice and in the dressing room. Should Big G make the club, I fully expect Jovo Cop to be his guide and mentor. What better player on the Panthers to have Erik mold himself after. With so much at stake and so many new personalities on the team that some people are so worried about meshing together, Jovanovski hands down is the right choice.
Now, if you disagree, I’d love to hear why, and I’d love to hear your suggestion of who it should be. And tell us why your selection is more deserving than Jovo Cop.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
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