Pete DeBoer apparently wants a single designated leader for the Golden Knights.
The team has never attached a “C” to a specific sweater. The Knights have, since an expansion beginning in October 2017, instead chosen a handful of alternate captains.
The reasoning hasn’t changed. It’s a tight group. Everyone gets along. It has always worked this way. There are 23 captains.
Handling it that way makes it is easier to write than a grocery list. Yet there is evidence for keeping it simple and consistent.
When your first three seasons deliver a Stanley Cup Final, playoff berth and first place in the Pacific Division at the time sports went dark because of the coronavirus, change is difficult to endorse. But it seems DeBoer will take a shot.
The man who on Jan. 15 replaced Gerard Gallant as coach said on a recent team podcast he believes in naming a captain. It’s a theory he would need to run past owner Bill Foley, president of hockey operations George McPhee and general manager Kelly McCrimmon.
The second name makes most decisions while being supported by the first. The third one tends to agree a lot.
So the second will decide.
Captains converse with referees over rule interpretations. They face more media than anyone. They represent the team in most all matters. Not every franchise has one. Most do.
Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t eligible for the Knights as a goalie. Good. Keep his dry sense of humor intact.
But should DeBoer convince the hierarchy that Vegas would do well to make that change, here are a few suggestions as to who would most deserve that coveted letter.
Mark Stone: He’s the layup. A more obvious pick than Daniel-Day Lewis for best actor in “There Will Be Blood.” Captains aren’t always the best player on a team. Stone is. Works as hard as anyone. Has enough experience. Is signed through 2026-27. He’s doesn’t embrace talking with the media — few Knights do despite what many reporters want to believe — but does so in a measured tone, unless the Knights don’t show up in Minnesota and lose 4-0. Then he’s not so measured.
Jonathan Marchessault: He would be terrific. Small in stature, massive in heart. Fearless. Guys would follow him. He is brutally honest. Good or bad, he tells things as they are. For this, he’s respected as much or more than anyone in the room by those who cover the team. Problem is, such public openness would mean trainers having to revive McPhee after he passes out following each media availability.
Max Pacioretty: He already wore the ‘C’ in Montreal, a role that’s more lost cause than trying to reach an unemployment office right now. Want to feel like you’re running a marathon every day? Be an American captain of a Canadian team. That team. Pacioretty seems more content not having to face such scrutiny. Pressure? In coming from the Canadiens to the Golden Knights, he went from driving in rush hour through the Holland Tunnel to lounging on the sands of Maui.
Nate Schmidt: He is the team’s union representative and never at a loss for words. But he has also spent part of his coronavirus quarantine having himself filmed picking up penne pasta with his mouth via a strand of uncooked spaghetti. He might be a few jacks short of a full deck. Eh, I’m guessing this isn’t the guy.
Nikita Gusev: Sure, it’s not a sensible choice. Would be a heavy underdog at the books given he’s been traded to New Jersey. But if DeBoer gets his wish and can name a captain, how much will those upstairs regret not giving their coach the option of picking a player who doesn’t speak much English?
Reporter: “Nikita, you guys have lost five straight and players are questioning the desire and work ethic of some teammates. Screams have constantly been heard from inside the room. What has happened to this team?”
Gusev: Ten-minute answer in Russian.
Translator: “Lower body injury.”
A management’s dream.
Gallant: Another huge long shot for obvious reasons. But even for a just a day, maybe he would tell us the real story behind his firing and, well, when and why the rift between him and McPhee began. Because if we know anything, and we know very little, it sure didn’t have much to do with a loss at Buffalo.
Oh Captain! My Captain!
DeBoer should choose wisely.
If, of course, given a chance by the second name.
Contact columnist Ed Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.