With the doldrums of summer upon us, and the Chicago Blackhawks currently hoping someone calls to take Bryan Bickell off their hands, one of the more notable story lines relates to the assistant captaincy for the team heading into the 2015-16 season.
The trade of Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars left an assistant captains vacancy, with a small host of candidates available to replace him. Jonathan Toews wears the ‘C’, with Duncan Keith donning one of the A’s. But with Sharp now moving on, having been a cap casualty, who could he pass the number onto in the upcoming season?
There aren’t too many options, as the leaders in the locker room and the key members of the core have been firmly established. As such, there are likely only a trio of candidates to take the ‘A’ from Patrick Sharp: Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and, perhaps the most likely and obvious, Brent Seabrook.
We could probably throw Niklas Hjalmarsson’s name in there as a dark horse, as he represents the other skater that is a part of the core, but it’ll probably be too difficult for him to overcome any of the other three.
Kane would certainly be an interesting case. A player once noted just as much for his exploits off the ice as those on it, he has cleaned up his party boy image considerably. He’s matured right before our eyes, with the Blackhawks’ patience in him paying off completely. A veteran that always knows the right thing to say and the co-face of the franchise, along with Toews, could be handed a letter due to that latter factor.
Hossa could call it quits at some point in the next few years, and there’s a certain degree of uncertainty in regard to Seabrook’s future. If the goal is longevity, which isn’t necessarily a large concern with an assistant captain, Kane could be tabbed.
But the far more likely options are Hossa and Seabrook, as they’ve each worn an ‘A’ on various occasions, whether in preseason tilts or while Keith or Sharp were out due to injury.
Hossa is a seasoned vet of almost 1,200 NHL games and has been an integral part of all three Stanley Cup teams in Chicago. He’s as respected as they come, not only in the Blackhawks’ locker room, but in the league as a whole. His experience alone makes him a contender for the letter.
However, the most likely candidate of all is that of Keith’s blue line partner in Seabrook. He has most often worn the letter in the absence of Keith or Sharp and has been a steady leader in the locker room over the past several years. A career Blackhawk, “Seabs” is noted in recent years for a stern talking to which he delivered to Toews in a second-round matchup against the Detroit Red Wings back in 2013 that is largely credited with helping to springboard them to a win in that series.
There aren’t really any ways in which the Blackhawks can go wrong with the letter choice. Kane and Seabrook are players that have come up through the organization, while Hossa seems like a career Blackhawk at this point and is also worthy of the letter. It might seem insignificant on some level for us, but in the locker room, it’s anything but. And any of the three directions that the Blackhawks could go with that letter should be well received.