What is a captain?
Lots of discussions about this today after Vinny Lecavalier was named captain for the second time in his Lightning career. Lecavalier spoke about how he will be a captain by example and work with other team leaders such as Marty St. Louis, Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone. He said he wants to lead like his childhood idol Steve Yzerman, who was 21 in 1986 when named Red Wings captain. Lecavalier and Yzerman have a connection in that Lecavalier, at 19, was the youngest full-time captain in NHL history when he was given the job by then-coach Steve Ludzik on march 11, 2000.
Lecavalier, of course, had the job taken away before the 2001-02 season, when the team decided he was not ready. The move was a big part of the rift between Lecavalier and then-coach John Tortorella.
"Anytime someone takes something from you , it's tough," Lecavalier said.
As for his style, Lecavalier channeled Yzerman: "I don't think he was a rah-rah guy screaming in the dressing room. He was a guy who led by example and played hard, and that's what brought the team together. He was a great hockey player and leader. I'll try to do the same."
Asked what he believed were the qualities of a captain, coach Barry Melrose had lots to say.
"I think choosing a captain is one of the most important jobs a coach has," he said. "I can't believe coaches who let players choose a captain. It never made any sense to me. ... What sold me on Vinny was in 2004 when he fought (Jarome) Iginla. He didn't need to do it. No one expected him to do it. Jarome is not an easy mark. Jarome is tough. That really changed my impression of Vinny when he did that."
Melrose said Lecavalier is capable of being a "dream captain."
Asked to explain what he meant, Melrose said, "A guy that changes the game. When you're down, he goes out and does something. When you're up, he turns a one-goal lead into a two-goal lead. The captain is the guy you look to to change the way the game is going, the way the week is going."
Melrose, as he has done before when speaking about relationships with players, distanced himself from Tortorella.
"(The captain) has to be a guy that I can challenge, and not worry about hurting his feelings because we have that type of relationship. Hopefully, as Vinny and I work together, and I coach him longer, that will become stronger and stronger. I can challenge Vinny to make him better and I think he'll realize it's not personal, that I'm trying to make him better or the team better. He's my voice in the dressing room. I think he's going to emerge as one of the best captains in the NHL."