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Who will don the "C"?
Handicapping the next Sharks Captain
6/14/10 - By Mike Lee -

With Rob Blake more than likely to announce his retirement on Friday, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan and GM Doug Wilson now get to figure out will wear the Captains “C” next season. The player who earns that honor will become the 8th regular captain in franchise history. San Jose stripped Patrick Marleau of the position last summer, after the Sharks were ousted from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round. Blake was named captain before last season, in order to instill more credibility and authority.

Now that Blake has decided to call it a career, the Sharks once again find themselves in need of a leader. There are plenty of candidates, so I’ve decided to try and handicap them.

The Front Runners

Dan Boyle

Pros: The gritty defenseman leaves it all on the ice just about every game, and he’s been an outspoken sounding board for the Sharks roster. That’s especially been the case when his teammates fell flat. He won’t pull any punches, and is respected in the locker room.

Cons: There’s little to like about Boyle filling the role. Boyle isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind, which could rub some players the wrong way.

Odds: 6/5

Joe Pavelski

Pros: The centerman emerged as a gamer in the playoffs, especially in the first round when the Sharks top line went AWOL. He became a leader, simply by setting an example that forced even the superstars to step it up. He was often found in the locker room after games to answer questions, especially after losses.

Cons: While a solid performer, he’s not a big numbers guy. Relatively unknown before his appearance on the US Olympic team, Pavelski still has to establish a name for himself, especially among the league’s officials.

Odds: 3/1

Joe Thornton

Pros: Thornton is the Sharks marquee player and has enough cache in the league to make him an obvious candidate. The big centerman is a perennial points leader and his seniority make him a good intermediary with on-ice officials.

Cons: Thornton is typically absent when things aren’t going well for the Sharks. Unlike Boyle, you won’t see the centerman responding to the media after tough losses. It would also be hard to bestow the responsibility on a guy that takes shifts off every so often.

Odds: 5/1

Mid-Pack Candidates

Dany Heatley

Pros: The 2nd year Sharks is another marquee player that has the cache to don a letter, and Heatley doesn’t seem to be averse to the idea. His numbers are certainly big enough to earn the respect of his teammates and officials, but more importantly the responsibility could help Heatley move past some of the skeletons that continue to dog his past.

Cons: The winger only has a year in teal under his belt, so he still has to establish himself in the locker room. After requesting trades from his last two teams, there are still questions about commitment.

Odds: 8/1

Patrick Marleau

Pros: He’s familiar with the role and he was the Sharks best player in the Conference Finals. His tenure speaks for itself.

Cons: For starters, he’s an unrestricted free-agent on July 1st, so he’s not even under contract for the 2010-11 season. He also had the “C” stripped after a 6-year stint as captain and may not even want the job back.

Odds: 12/1

Manny Malhotra

Pros: Anyone that takes a pay cut to come play for your team is an automatic candidate. Malhotra is also an energy-guy that would be a great example setter for the younger players.

Cons: Malhotra took a pay-cut last season, but his contributions will most likely command a decent raise. Given that San Jose needs to sign figure out if they want Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov back, salary cap issues could make Malhotra expendable.

Odds: 20/1

The Dark Horses

Scott Nichol

Pros: The feisty centerman was a spark plug for the Sharks last season. The 9-year veteran is also a fan-favorite for this all out style of play. If leading by example is the Sharks most important criteria, Nichol is a great choice.

Cons: The fourth-liner doesn’t get a lot of ice time, and his 34-year old frame is likely to see that decrease should the Sharks re-sign him. Like Marleau, Nichol is an unrestricted free-agent, although his sub-$1 million salary makes it easier for San Jose to re-sign him.

Odds: 30/1

Ryane Clowe

Pros: He’s the closest thing to Owen Nolan currently on the Sharks roster, except he’s never turned in Nolan’s numbers. The prototypical power forward has the makings of a leader, because he’s a no-nonsense kind of player.

Cons: Clowe just hasn’t played consistently enough in his career to warrant serious consideration. He can also lose his cool when the opposition gets under his skin, which doesn’t meld with the calm demeanor that a Wilson or McLellan is probably looking for.

Odds: 30/1

All the Rest

Evgeni Nabokov: I don’t think the Sharks bring back the moody netminder back, and goaltender’s don’t make good captains.

Devin Setoguchi: Needs to build on his first round performance and must establish a consistent game before anyone takes him seriously.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic: Could be the captain of the future.


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