The Canadiens appointed right winger Brian Gionta to the role of team captain Wednesday. “Appointed” is the operative word. More often than not, in the past, the selection of Canadiens captain was left to the players in what was a dressing room popularity contest. This decision was made exclusively by head coach Jacques Martin and Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier.
In the end the choice was between Gionta or ten year team-veteran Andrei Markov. Markov, because of his tenure, seemed a logical choice but for two factors; he can become an unrestricted free agent next July and his English language skills make burdensome the nightly job of facing the media. Gionta has four more years on a five year contract he signed last summer.
Markov and Hal Gill remain alternate captains.
The captain has, according to the NHL rulebook, “the sole privilege of discussing with the referee any questiions relating to interpretation of rules which may arise during the progress of the game.” When the captain is not on the ice that responsibility falls on the alternates.
Off the ice the captain is asked to represent players concerns and issues to team management. He is also the team’s primary representative to the public meaning social functions, on-ice ceremonies and the often difficult and unenviable job of dealing with the post game media after every game, a gruelling job, especially in Montreal, after losses.