Who Wears The “C”?
A familiar face is no longer walking amongst the Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Former captain and long-time Bolt Vincent Lecavalier was bought out of his contract this off-season leaving behind a big void in leadership. No. 4 has been the clubhouse leader since the 2008-09 season and leaves behind a rich legacy both on-and-off the ice in Tampa Bay. With the longest tenured team captain in Lightning history now a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, a new leader must be appointed. But who takes that spot? There are really only two choices.
One would assume a veteran would naturally take the reins. That certainly fits the profile of right-winger Martin St. Louis. A long time alternate captain, St. Louis knows the locker room and the organization better than anyone. He is coming off perhaps the most impressive season of his career, albeit a lockout shortened one. He won the Art Ross Trophy by virtue of scoring the most points (60) of any NHL player, with 17 goals and 43 assists. He was the oldest player to ever win the scoring title at 37-years-old. In addition, he sets a great example through his work-ethic which is virtually unmatchable. He continues to keep himself in tremendous shape every off-season, and enjoys the drive of getting ready for a new season.
“It’s one of the parts of being a pro that I actually enjoy, getting ready for a season,” says St. Louis. “I enjoy that aspect, the preparation to put yourself in the best position possible to have a good start, a great year.”
The other obvious choice is perhaps the face of the franchise in center Steven Stamkos. While he is only 23 years of age, Stamkos is no question the most complete player on this team. He is the engine of the Lightning attack having led the team in goals the past 4 seasons. Stamkos has become a more efficient puck distributor, and at times last year showed very good aggressive play on defense. Young players like the Penguins Sidney Crosby and the Capitals Alexander Ovechkin have been named captains early in their careers, and Stamkos says he’s ready to take on more of a leadership role.
“I think over the last couple of years that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” Stamkos said. “It’s not something that happens over night. It takes time you have to learn through experiences, good and bad, and I think I’m ready for that for sure.”
Ultimately the decision will come down to GM Steve Yzerman and Head Coach Jon Cooper. The team will announce their new captain on October 1st, two days before the season opener against the Boston Bruins.
So who do you believe deserves to wear the “C” for the Lightning this season? Is it the ageless Martin St. Louis? Or will the young phenom Steven Stamkos take the helm?