canadiens celebration

The sujet du jour is the vacant position of captain of the Canadiens. In the last few days the Gazette’s Jack Todd made an impressive case for Andrei Markov in the role.  Colleague Dave Stubbs spoke with former Habs captain Yvan Cournoyer about his days as captain in the 70’s.

Logic tells us that Markov is the number one candidate.  As I’ve written in this space before, I’m not sure he is all that excited about the prospect.  If not, the names Plekanec and Subban come up along with Pacioretty and Prust.

The final decision will be made between general manager Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien.  Having the players vote on it is an unsatisfactory non-starter.  The last time that happened we got co-captains, Guy Carbonneau and Chris Chelios, following a vote that divided the room evenly into French/English camps.

I’m one of those who believes that ideally the captain of the Canadiens should be able to speak both of Canada’s official languages, if only to communicate with the mass of media that, win or lose,  invades the dressing room after every game.

The Canadiens haven’t had a captain who could give interviews in English and French in fifteen years, dating back to Vincent Damphousse in 1999.

So, with that in mind, is it a stretch to add David Desharnais’ name to candidates list.  Anyone who has paid attention has to know and respect Desharnais and the path he’s been forced to take to become a top-six forward in the NHL.  He has the ear of his teammates.  When asked, he handles the media impeccably.

Not that I wish the job on anyone.  Being captain of the Canadiens goes far behind the days of Yvan Cournoyer.  In the 70’s Cournoyer was basically asked to be a spokesman for a room filled with the likes of Serge Savard, Jacques Lemaire, Guy Lapointe, Larry Robinson and Guy Lafleur.  Most nights there were four or five newspapermen a couple of radio microphones and one TV camera in the room after the game.  All players were available, win or lose.

Now, it seems to be demanded of the team captain that he stand in front of as many as 30 reporters with microphones stuck in his face and explain why he and his teammates won or lost a game.  The winning nights may be tolerable.  Trying to rationalize a loss, while most of his teammates are hiding in the weight room is less tolerable.

Saku Koivu and then Brian Gionta were there for the media through thick and thin without complaint or even a hard word no matter the inane level of the questioning.   And failure to show brings down the wrath of media gods.  Ask Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf who passed on the post game media after a particularly brutal loss at home against St. Louis last March.  The Toronto media questioned his leadership and his fitness to be Leafs captain.  Forced him to go on to local radio and apologize.  Who needs that?

In the end I thought Subban summed the debate up perfectly.  “I don’t think it really matters a whole lot. We have plenty of guys who have captain-type qualities. I’ve always joked that whoever has the C on his jersey is basically the guy who has to stick around after every loss.”