Who could bear the burden of the C if the Canucks trade Bo Horvat?
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
30 days ago
Bo Horvat’s future in Vancouver remains very much up in the air this season, made all the more complicated by the fact he is scoring at a rate previously unheard of from him. The old Alex Mogilny special where you go off in a contract year, and force a team to make a very hard choice: Do you pay for what you just saw, or do you try and land a deal based on his normal rate?
With every goal, does Bo Horvat price himself out of a team already attempting an awkward high school dance with the salary cap? Or does he prove himself so invaluable that the team does whatever it takes to keep him?
In the end, we have no idea how this is going to play out. Sometimes you get a feeling of how something might go with a player, but with Bo? It’s a mystery. The fact we’ve even gotten to this point seems unthinkable almost a year ago.
So while we wait to see how this plays out, let’s play a game in which we look into the Ghost of Christmas future and try to imagine a world without Bo Horvat. A world in which the Canucks move on from their steadfast captain, and they have to make the hard choice: Who is the next player to wear the C for Vancouver?
First off, let’s be very clear here. From the outside looking in, we are just making arguments based on surface level observations. We don’t have a full picture of the dynamics of the room, and for all we know Tanner Pearson is the guy who keeps everything together and they are hastily sewing on a “C” as we speak. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun and try and put forth our best logical arguments, because hell, what else are we going to do with our time?
So that being said, there are only two obvious options I can see for becoming the next Canucks captain. But there are also a few wild cards in the mix that could be suitable as well, options you might not ever have considered.
Who might those be, you ask?
This is clearly the most obvious choice for the Vancouver Canucks. This is his team, despite JT Miller flirting with that idea a couple of seasons ago. Even if awarding him the captaincy feels like it might be running parallel to the time the team made Roberto Luongo captain as possibly part of a bargaining chip to get him to sign a long term deal, he is still the correct choice. Unlike the Luongo captaincy, however, the EP40 era would make a lot more sense as he checks a lot of boxes.
Best player on the team? Check.
Leads by example and doesn’t take shifts off? Check.
Has a steely gaze that can look both determined, frustrated, sad, angry and slightly confused? Damn straight.
The only issue I would see here is if Elias Pettersson would take umbrage with having to deal with the media side of being the captain of the Vancouver Canucks. Having to trot out after your fifth loss in a row, the latest being a 7-0 drubbing to the Arizona Coyotes, while trying not to whither under the interrogation of Jeff Paterson is not the easiest of tasks. It’s the kind of thing that gives you a newfound respect for Henrik Sedin, who somehow always managed to sound polite, cordial, and encouraging, even after terrible losses.
Bo Horvat has done an admirable job in that regard, but you’d be allowed to wonder if EP40 wants to deal with that kind of heat. We’ve seen plenty of soft-spoken, dispirted scrums from him over his time in Vancouver, so I wonder if he would even want to go on that Frodo journey and have to bear the responsibility of the one “C” to rule them all.
I mean obviously Kuzmenko would be his Samwise, bringing that sense of happy-go-lucky light-heartedness companionship needed for such an epic tale, but even then, it’s a tough ask for anyone to have to deal with the rigors of captain responsibilities in a Canadian market. If he just wants to focus on himself and his game and not give up part of his soul to deal with the off the ice responsibilities of the captaincy, fair play to him.
But in terms of giving the captaincy to your most impactful player night in and night out, Elias Pettersson is the runaway winner. He has a 200 foot game, he rarely takes a shift off, he produces all of the offence for your team, he can make any player around him better, he probably just dangled around you while you were reading this article, that’s how good he is, and the list just goes on and on.
Also, there is something quaint about watching your captain go end to end and absolutely ether the other team into oblivion. Fans pointing to the screen scream-crying “That’s my guy! That is my guy!” brings a certain value to a team.
So the question simply for me would be “You in?” to Elias and if he says yes, it’s all his.
The second clear choice to me would be Luke Schenn. Now, this is obviously contingent on the Canucks keeping Schenn around and extending his contract, and like many Canucks looking for deals, he is possibly pricing himself out of the Canucks‘ salary cap range with his play this season.
But if he were to stick around, he is a top choice to give the captaincy to.
The boxes he ticks?
Stanley Cup winning experience, which we can debate the value of (GM’s seemingly put a high premium on this), but I still think it’s a solid resume builder for a captain. Hell, let’s back it up and just say experience in general is probably highlighted in bold on his LinkedIn profile, right after Telus Cup champion (nobody forgets their first Telus Cup).
There isn’t much Schenn hasn’t experienced in his NHL career, going from top NHL draft pick to playing in front of the seething spotlight of Toronto, to being traded to a battery tossing fan base in Philly, to seeing his career almost over in Arizona and Anaheim, to having to attend a family dinner while his brother celebrated a Stanley Cup, to bouncing back to win two Cups with Tampa Bay, to now playing himself into proving to be a reliable top four asset. If anyone wanted advice or a solid chat after a bad day at the office, I feel like Schenn would be able to assail you with an assortment of stories of his time in the NHL as a blueprint of how to carry yourself.
Also, he knows Gary Roberts, and you cannot discount that as an asset. Too much man is a skill not many have, but Gary seems able to teach people in the ways of this lifestyle.
You also have the fact that Luke Schenn WANTS to be in Vancouver. He is not looking at the door with one foot out, he actually wants to be in this city and be part of the solution here. It helps that he’s won his Cups, so he doesn’t have that hanging over his head if he decides to set up shop in Vancouver, and he clearly enjoys playing in this city. It helps that he’s become a cult hero of sorts in this town, and his current salary scientifically makes it impossible to ever get mad about mistakes he makes on the ice, but even if he got a bump in salary and had to face more scrutiny, he’d be up to the task.
Scrums after horrible losses would not bother Luke Schenn. Thomas Drance staring into his eyes and letting out a chortle for the ages? Luke would barely blink. Faber demanding to know how much DAWG he had him in that night? He’d happily break it down for him.
Luke Schenn would handle any post game scrum with ease.
He also plays a very honest game and is another one of those lead by example players. You can tell he is playing to the best of his abilities and it’s very rare to see him mailing it in.
Also, there is something quaint about watching your captain going full Matt Milano and punting a player through the glass, then turning around to pummel a guy into the ice. Fans pointing to the screen, scream-crying “That’s my guy! That is my guy!” brings a certain value to a team.
So the question simply for me would be “Are you extending Luke Schenn?” and if they are, give him that “C”.
We’ve quite firmly reached the end of our obvious answers on the list, so now we turn to our outside the box solutions.
JT Miller at one point had murmurs from the fan base about possibly getting the captaincy, back in the bubble days. This was before the swearing and the turnovers had become a major part of his identity.
Still, there was something to be said about watching a guy with passion, going out and scoring a bundle of points, vocally standing up to management and the league over COVID issues, and wondering if that was something the team needed out of their captain.
That ship has most likely sailed, what with the blind passes to the other teams, but in order to honour that time period, we will include him on the list.
Besides, maybe if you full Keenan/Kovalev on him and just bury him with duties, perhaps it will trigger a resurgence in his defensive game.
Play the entire overtime and then answer all the questions in the scrum post game? Let’s do this.
Is there a happier player on the team right now? Clearly not.
There’s that old cliche the Louie DeBrusk’s of the world break out when a new player has success. “They’re too young to know any better!!!” they exclaim, as if Connor McDavid was simply too naïve to realize his Oilers were in fact trash in 2016, and never should have gone two rounds deep in the playoffs. Had they sat him down and talked to him and explained how poorly constructed his roster was, he would have done the right thing and gone out in the first round in a four game sweep.
That being said, there is something refreshing about not only watching a player have fun and enjoy themselves on the ice, but also watching someone who seems oblivious to how things normally work in the NHL. Kuzmenko breaks all of the rules in the scrums by answering openly and honestly and not worrying a single moment about how his answers might impact the fan base or media.
Obviously it helps that he’s a darling with the media and it’s impossible to get angry at anything he does. He could come out and say White Lotus is overrated garbage and even though if anyone else said that you’d be ready to fight to the death against that summation, if Kuzmenko said it, he’d give his impish grin and you’d just go “Oh you!” and go about your day.
Having the chaos giraffe as your captain feels like a very good marketing situation. Think of the plush toys you could sell!
I also feel there is a certain charm of having every other team having to crane their neck to look up to see your captain’s face on ceremonial face offs.
And if Zdeno Chara has taught us anything, the bigger you are, the bigger the lie you can get away with telling, so Myers could dance by any issue the team runs into.
“Why did we fail to make the playoffs? Well, we saw the Boston Bruins cast a magical curse on us during an open ice-practice, and look, I’m going to level with you, we tried our best to cleanse ourselves of their disgusting magic. The problem is they used wind magic as their base, and not many of use are proficient enough in counter curses to wind magic. I mean, Bo was top tier in that, but once we traded him, woof. We were done for. Anyways, I’m off to Disneyland to spend the day with Keanu Reeves and Bart Simpson.”
Look, sometimes you just do anything to try and justify an investment, and to try and get a small return on it.
Sure, he just lost a foot race to the puck again, but he talked about it openly and honestly for five minutes after the game, so you know, that’s nice.
I mostly want this to happen just to see even more opportunities for Quinn Hughes looking tired and sad to appear online.
The truth of the matter is there are some players that are fantastic to discuss hockey with in the locker room after games. Players who when they talk to you, you can see their hockey intelligence on full display. This comes in the form of them remembering every single detail on a play you ask them about, or them breaking down an event in the hockey game and walking you through things. You can almost see their eyes light up and their brain starting to fire on all cylinders as they talk about hockey.
Troy Stecher? Fantastic at this. There was no one better to talk shop with than Troy From Richmond. JT Miller, yes, he is also very very good at this. Which might make his current play even more maddening, because he clearly knows he’s not playing great and is making bad decisions, but continues to do them. But I digress.
Quinn Hughes is also one of those players you just absolutely love talking to about the game of hockey. When he opens up, you can see his brilliance on display, and he can break the game down to such a high level for you that you feel smarter for just having spoken to him.
So in terms of being someone who can explain the game and teach it to others, this is actually a quality I think Quinn Hughes is brimming with.
I just feel like nothing ruffles this guy. He feels like the type of person who when you rear end him in traffic because you weren’t paying attention, he’s the one who calms you down and makes sure you’re ok. He leads the team in “Dad Energy”, which I need to make very clear, is very different from the “Daddy Energy” Luke Schenn leads the team in.
He also leads the team in “Did you hurt my son? Well, it’s go time now,” fights per 60 on the team.
You can go the boring route and just hand out some A’s for a while (which is what I actually think they would do) but that’s tedious and I dislike it. We shall discuss it no further.
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