Simmer’s story speculating about the next Seattle Kraken captain is a wonderful conversation starter, because there isn’t a clear-cut answer, and it also raises several other questions.
For instance: why don’t the Kraken already have one? Seattle has been captain-less since veteran defenseman Mark Giordano departed at the trade deadline 18 months ago.
The Kraken aren’t unique in this regard; up to nine NHL teams haven’t currently handed out the “C.” But it’s somewhat surprising that general manager Ron Francis, himself a captain on three different teams during his Hall-of-Fame career, would allow his club’s vacancy to remain for so long.
Now, the results to date – 100 points in the last regular season, one win shy of reaching the conference finals – indicate the Kraken haven’t suffered without a captain. Seattle’s players were so tight-knit in 2022-23 that they didn’t resemble a hockey team so much as an eight-month group hug on skates.
I would argue, though, that you don’t need a captain in the room so much when things are going well. It’s when practices get lax, or personalities don’t mesh, or a losing streak raises tensions, that a captain can provide the pat on the back or kick in the rear that turns things around.
This, by the way, is why Rob is exactly right that it’s too soon to award the “C” to 20-year-old center Matty Beniers. All signs point to greatness for the reigning Calder Trophy winner. However, the captaincy shouldn’t automatically default to a team’s future superstar – especially if he’s not yet old enough to drink.
That said, there have been a handful of teenage NHL captains. The “C” was stitched on Connor McDavid’s Edmonton Oilers sweater when he was 19. Francis was all of 21 when he was named captain of the Hartford Whalers. Some have wondered if the Kraken are purposely keeping their captaincy open until they feel Beniers is ready.
If true, that could be a reason for the team to avoid giving the “C” to defenseman Vince Dunn, as Rob previously suggested. Not that Dunn would be a poor choice. As pointed out, he’s the right age, he’s signed for the next four seasons, and he’s a rising star in his own right.
But if management does intend for Beniers to be their long-term choice, they might choose a one- or two-season caretaker captain in the meantime. That would open the door for one of the club’s 30-something veterans.
Or, the Kraken might decide, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and go without one.
Personally, I hope Seattle does name a captain. Not because I’m a hopeless traditionalist, who longs for the return of wood sticks and chicken-wire above the boards. But team captains are a feature which sets hockey apart, and pre-dates the NHL itself. The 1917 Stanley Cup-winning Seattle Metropolitans were led by their captain, Hall-of-Famer Frank Foyston.
So Kraken, name a captain. Frank Foyston would want it that way.
— Editor’s Note: The other NHL teams presently without a captain – Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets. With Jonathan Toews as an unrestricted free agent (UFA) and having said his bye-bye’s, we should add the Chicago Blackhawks.
— The following came from reader ‘Bane’ in our comment section: (Fan comments are welcome at SHI. This is the 2nd time Bane has had reader feedback published)
“If the team is going to have a captain, in my outsider’s opinion, I think that captain should be Adam Larsson. Dude is constantly working hard, and he spends more time on the ice than anyone else. He throws a ton of nasty hits, blocks shots without hesitation, and plays fundamentally sound hockey. He is a well-respected veteran player with half a career of high-level performance behind him. That’s exactly the kind of example a captain should set for his teammates. But hey, the players know who their captain is, whoever he may be.”
Recent Kraken Profiles:
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Adam Larsson
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Vince Dunn
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Brandon Tanev