Sunday, March 25, 2012

Oh Captain, My Captain

Rogers' Sportsnet is a multi-faceted media contingent, spanning radio, TV, and more recently-- the print world. Their Sportsnet Magazine has a collector's edition out now call "The Captains: Ranking the Greatest Leaders in Hockey History." Yes, like so much Bleacher Report, the fantastic heads at Sportsnet got people together to make the ultimate list of captains all of the NHL and rank them 1 to 30. You can just tell how great subjective lists can be....

Strap in, folks-- it's about to get fun.

Alright, so they start off well enough, picking Montreal Canadiens' Jean Beliveau as the all-time top captain. Can't argue with that-- the statistics that Beliveau put up, the style of play he had, the fact that off the ice he very accommodating to the media and fans; he has to be there at the top spot because of how well-rounded he was both on and off the ice. So far, so good.

Number two on the list: Mark Messier.

The whole thing of lists is that....they'll be very subjective most of the time. This is a case where I think it holds true. Rangers' fans will always bring up 1994 and his guarantee and how he stepped up in the clutch to help bring the Rangers their first cup in 54 years. Fine, I get that and can appreciate that-- but in the history of captains, the fact he is SECOND on the list is somewhat of a head-scratcher. Especially when you at the guys in the third, fourth, and fifth spot (Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, and Steve Yzerman), I don't know how you can say that Messier is above them. Top-five?? Maybe depending on who you talk to. Top-ten?? Sure, I'll give you that if only for winning two Cups as captain.

Phil Esposito, Denis Potvin, Maurice Richard, Bobby Clarke, and Bobby Orr are the others in the top-ten, which, again-- the subjective nature of things and what they were able to do in their era with the team they had an the teams they went up against will always make the question of their positioning debatable.

Here's a shot of who is numbers 11 through 30:


The crazy thing about this is that Sidney Crosby is on this list. Sure, I don't doubt he'd be on a revisited list, but my belief that any active player should not be on the list. If you put Crosby there, why not put Jonathan Toews on that list?? The only other active player is Jarome Iginla-- but no Daniel Alfredsson or Nicklas Lidstrom or Joe Thornton or whoever??

More over, where's guys like Rod Langway, Trevor Linden, Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, or countless others. Dave Bidini, the go-to hockey musician, historian, and noted author, did an entire essay on guys who did get snubbed from this list and you could go on forever. Especially when you cut it off at 30, you know you're going to have omissions and this won't be definitive. In which case, why put it out??

The only good thing about this all is the inclusion of two women captains (Cassie Campbell [27] and Cammi Granato [30]), as well as going very old school with the likes of Eddie Shore, Syl Apps (19), Bill Cook (20), and King Clancy (26); as well as foreign innovators like Boris Mikhailov (17) and Sven Tumba (29), neither of whom played in the NHL at all-- so respect is given there.

This is an edition that's going to spark some chatter and counterpoints to each point make for each captain's position. Even so, there's sometimes where you can go off the wall in a good way or a bad way-- this instance....it could have been more of a hinderance than a help.

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