Photo Credit: Darrel Dyck/CP

Why Brock Boeser Should Be Captain Of The Vancouver Canucks

There’s yet to be any official announcement, but every indication is that the Vancouver Canucks will be naming the 12th captain in team history—or 14th if you count Dan Quinn and Doug Lidster as “tri-captains” with Trevor Linden in 1990/91—sometime before the start of the 2019/20 season. But who will it be?

In this series, CanucksArmy will be taking a good look at all the serious candidates for the job—and making the best possible arguments for each of them in turn.

It’s important to note that none of these articles represent the actual opinion of this author or the other writers on CanucksArmy. In other words, just because you’re reading an article entitled “Why Brock Boeser Should Be Captain Of The Vancouver Canucks” it doesn’t mean we actually believe Boeser should be captain of the Vancouver Canucks—we’re just engaging in the mental exercise of advocating for him as a captaincy candidate.

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Don’t worry—this author has a fairly inflexible opinion on who should actually wear the “C,” and this series will conclude with a three-part PR campaign for that individual. For now, however, there are several other players that are worthy of your consideration.

Avengers Assemble

Is there a greater human being in the National Hockey League than Brock Boeser? There might not be.

GM Jim Benning has made it a definitive goal of his tenure with the Vancouver Canucks to add players of outstanding character, and he’s certainly done that—but Boeser still stands head (and hair) and shoulders above the rest of the pack.

In fact, Boeser is so morally upstanding that he’s reminiscent of another notable leader currently dominating the cultural zeitgeist—Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America. Like Rogers, Boeser is in possession of a just heart, a great head of hair, and an unerring desire to do what is right. And like any good Avenger, Boeser has dedicated himself to helping those in need—and that can make for a pretty inspiring figure for any hockey team to follow.

The stories of Boeser’s kindness are too numerous to recount here, and they’ve been around since before he was drafted into the NHL. Who could forget Boeser taking Baylee Bjorge—his biggest fan in the world, who also happens to be a person with Down syndrome—to her high school prom. All Baylee had to do was ask, and Boeser was there to support her.

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He’s also made a concerted commitment to shutting down any hateful trolls sharing negative messages about Bjorge on social media. In other words, Boeser doesn’t just exude morality and justness—he’s also unafraid to do battle with the injustice in the world.

Baylee Bjorge isn’t the first individual that Brock Boeser has inspired, and she won’t be the last. Boeser stands as a powerful testament to the importance of always trying to do the right thing—and the enormous impact such an attitude can have on the people around him.

Perspective Is Everything

Boeser’s incorruptible nature was well-known before the Canucks selected him 23rd overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft—but that wasn’t the only thing known about him. Unfortunately, Boeser gained valuable perspective on some of life’s most difficult questions via a series of tragic happenings.

Before he even hit high school, Boeser’s father Duke was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 49. The same week, his paternal grandfather passed from pancreatic cancer. Two years later, his Duke was involved in a serious accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He spent the next few years watching his parents struggle with medical bills and appointments—all the while continuing to support his emerging sports career—and those experiences taught him to never take hockey for granted.

If that lesson wasn’t already apparent in Boeser’s life, it became even more apparent in August of 2014. While captaining Team USA at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup tournament, Boeser received news that four of his closest friends had been involved in a serious car crash. One of Boeser’s closest friends, Ty Alyea, died as a result. Boeser continues to wear #6 on his jersey as a tribute to Alyea.

These tragedies have no doubt given Boeser the important perspective that hockey isn’t everything, and that there are other things in life that are infinitely more important. However, his experiences have also shown him that hockey is still pretty important—and that his natural skills in the game can be used to better the lives of those around him.

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That’s the sort of moral center that a franchise can count on when it comes time for a leader to emerge.

Already A Mentor

Of course, Boeser’s accolades as a potential captain don’t all come from his time at North Dakota. Since joining the Canucks at the tail-end of the 2016/17 season, Boeser has already made an enormous impact on the culture of the team—and he’s already started to mentor the few players younger than him.

Nowhere is Boeser’s mentorship more apparent than in the brilliant rookie campaign of Elias Pettersson. The young center spent much of the year with Boeser riding shotgun with him on the ice, and the pair became practically inseparable off it. For a player to come to an NHL franchise without a clear veteran leader must have been difficult, but Pettersson immediately found someone to look up to in Boeser—and it’s hard to imagine he isn’t significantly better off for it.

One only has to look at the duo’s charming performance at the annual Dice and Ice event to see how close they grew throughout the 2018/19 season—and how much Pettersson came to rely on Boeser to guide him through his first year in North America.

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The Captaincy Experience

Unlike many of the candidates we’ll talk about in this series, it bears mentioning that Brock Boeser does have some valuable experience as captain of a hockey team. He did serve as the captain of USA’s entry into the 2014 Under-17 Championships—and managed to lead his team to a bronze.

Aside from Bo Horvat—who served as captain of Team Canada in the same tournament in 2012 and for the OHL’s London Knights—Boeser is the only notable Canuck with any previous captaincy experience.

He’s done the job before, and he’s done it well—so while there may be a better candidate or two for the gig already on the Vancouver roster, it’s safe to say that Boeser remains an excellent choice. Even if he doesn’t wear the “C” on his jersey, one can only assume that he’ll remain a valuable component of the Canucks’ leadership core for years to come.

The Contract Question

As with Alex Edler, we’ll end this article with an important footnote—Brock Boeser is not currently under contract with the Vancouver Canucks. As a restricted free agent, there’s very little chance that Boeser is actually going anywhere, but it’s important to mention the fact that he’ll need a brand new deal before anyone considers giving him any sort of official leadership role.

That being said, there’s every indication that Vancouver fans can expect Boeser to sign a contract that is at least slightly below his fair market value. If he does take a hometown discount in the name of the franchise becoming more competitive, it will be just one more indication of how good of a person he is—and why he’s the kind of captain that this fanbase could be very proud to call their own.

  • Steampuck

    I have no dog in this fight (and I don’t know that I even care all that much), but I was surprised to learn that Boeser is one of only two Canucks with any experience as a captain. Given the emphasis put on character, above and beyond hockey skills and abilities, it is interesting to note how few junior/national team captains there are on this team…

    • Dirty30

      Although a rather notable example, Cody Hodgson was lauded for his character and leadership and it was one reason he was considered such a great pick at the time. What followed demonstrates that leadership in one setting may not translate to another.

      Brock, whether a Captain or not, demonstrates an incredible depth of character as do Bo and Elias, among others.

      And we have numerous examples of putative leaders who have acted atrociously.

      Leaders are leaders regardless of whether they carry the badge. It might be interesting we don’t have a lot of former captains, but we certainly have no shortage of leaders.

    • Here are a quite few other players with captain/assistant captain experience. I count at least 5 Benning prospects with international captaincy experience. This is not a comprehensive list but you can see a pattern of leadership amongst the Benning acquisitions:

      Prospects/New Players:
      Rathbone – High School (C) x 2
      Sautner – WHL (C)
      Brisboise – QMJHL (C) x 2
      Ututen – U18 (C)
      Woo – U17 (C)
      Juolevi – U16 (A), U18 (A), U20 (C)
      Madden – High School
      Gaudette – NCAA (A)
      Costmar – U16 (A)
      Gadjovich – OHL (A)
      Podkolzin – U17 (A), U18 (C)

      Biega – High School (C), NCAA (C/A) x 2, AHL (C/A) x 2
      Stecher – BCHL (C/A), NCAA (A)
      Miller – U20 (A)
      Sutter – U20 (A)

  • Hockey Bunker

    Quick thought. While we have been thinking about what players Canucks should offer sheet, what happens if Brock gets a 8 million for five years offer sheet, maybe to return home to Minny. Would you take the mandatory first second and third round picks or would you match?
    Haven’t seen any talk of this scenario. Are we being complacent?

    • North Van Halen

      Why would any team do that? We would math in a heartbeat.

      The only reason to offer sheet a player is if you think the opposing team won’t or can’t match. We have the space and need Brock more than a 1st & 3rd so matching would be a no brainer. The only thing you’d do is piss off the Canucks.

      The reason guys like Kappanen & Johnsson are enticing is because Toronto would have trouble matching due to cap constraints.
      Of course if we sign Myers & Nyqvist to bloated contracts, this option suddenly becomes more feasible to the competition (Jim please don’t)

    • Don’t forget that a team needs to have their own draft picks in the subsequent draft to do an offer sheet. Minnesota does not have their 2020 3rd round pick because they traded it to Nashville on Saturday so there is no way that Minnesota can offer sheet Boeser in that price range (unless they reacquire the pick from Nashville).

  • Kanuckhotep

    As a fan it is not really my place to say who should be team captain or not. It’s the organization and the room who most benefit from appreciable on and off ice leadership and shouldn’t be perceived as a popularity contest. Brock is truly a mensch though and as worthy as Bo or even young Petey. We shall know whom it will be soon enough.

  • North Van Halen

    I get this series is just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks but there is 0 chance Brock is our next captain.
    The list is 3 players long, Bo & Petey (if you want to pick our captain for the foreseeable future) or Alex if you want one for a couple of years until Petey is ready.
    No one else on this team should be considered.

    • I think Brock is just as deserving as Pettersson at this point.

      Interestingly enough, Pettersson is next in the series. Look for that next week, followed by one more dark horse candidate (any guesses?) before we finally get to Bo.

      • North Van Halen

        Sorry dude, respectfully disagree. Brock is no Petey. Brock’s good, Petey is potentially franchise altering.

        Petey is the only guy that could challenge Bo at this point, which is why you could temporarily give it to Edler while it shakes out. Bo & Petey drive this bus, Brock is a great compliment but he’s a winger (strike 1), that doesn’t kill penalties (strike 2), and isn’t the hardest worker on the ice (strike 3).
        Short of writing an article as long as yours , Pettersson is the best player and one of the hardest workers Horvat was a slam dunk until he came along and his emergence as perhaps the future heart and soul of this team is the only reason to delay Bo’s crowning.

  • speering major

    Petterson might be the choice for captain. His confidence, compete level, and firing off death stares as a 19 year old foreigner seem like good indicator to me. Petterson is the teams best player and might emerge as a 100 point producer down the road

    He has that fierce competitive streak and you can tell he demands a lot from himself. I can only imagine that will translate to his teammates as he matures. Seems like he could lead by both example and death stares

    It’s hard to tell from the outside looking in. I don’t know. Bo could be the captain now and that might be a decision they want to reverse in a couple seasons. I could actually see a strong argument to give Edler the C while the next leader between Bo, Brock, and Elias emerges.

  • Steamer

    C’mon man – right after Draft weekend, & this is the best you can do? This is the level of discussion elementary school kids have. Really, really embarassing.

  • Rodeobill

    You do see him communicating and directing on the ice through clips online, and during games, that is good, but I think this kind of choice needs someone who never takes a shift off, never gives up. Scratch the choice thing… in the best case scenario, it should be a role that is intuitively justified in the locker room and acknowledged by the team because that person is the leader regardless of whether they wear the letter, and because that person has taken that role for themselves. In the same vein that “true power can not be given, it must be taken,” the Captaincy should put on a person that is that person in the eyes of the team already. Who does everyone listen to like a quarterback in a huddle? Who stays the longest?
    Motivates his teammates? Never gives up? Plays hard every shift? Cares?
    These questions would help diagnose who it should be, but also who it shouldn’t be. Ultimately the team needs to intuit this person for themselves. Giving it to a rookie (EDM) can really mess up that natural team leader and put too much on one young guy, if they grow into that later, that’s great. Boeser could be the good deeds off the ice captain perhaps, but I don’t think he is the best choice for the C right now. I think it is a pretty safe guess as to who it will be.

  • rediiis

    I would go with 3 A Caps this year. Horvat, Miller and Edler. You could even go 4 with Tanev. One of them is gonna be injured. I really want a healthy 82 game season from all, but pucks happen. In the end, neither the team or fans should care about who is named to talk after a loss or win. I would vote for the best in microphone. I need a poll.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      I totally agree, the Canucks have lots of talented high character individuals that are worthy of the captaincy. I would rather they have 3 alternates until the team is a playoff participant.