Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Why naming Quinn Hughes captain would be the right call and why the Canucks should do it fast
5 months ago
Since the departure of Bo Horvat, the Vancouver Canucks’ 14th captain, two players have been at the heart of conversations to be the new captain: Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. While it initially looked like Pettersson was the front-runner of the two, recent reports from Rick Dhaliwal and Elliotte Friedman have suggested otherwise, with both insiders saying it looks like Hughes will be the Canucks’ next captain.
Rick Tocchet certainly seems to be among those who think Hughes is an ideal choice for captain.
“He’s projecting to that level. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” Tocchet said earlier this offseason during an appearance on the Missin’ Curfew podcast. “Huggy has really kind of made that trajectory to be a captain.”
Tocchet’s not the only person projecting Hughes to have a stellar year. Yours truly went as far as crowning Hughes a 20-goal scorer in this year’s inaugural CanucksArmy Hot Take Survivors.
Entering his fifth season with the Canucks, the soon-to-be 24-year-old’s potential appointment to captaincy was reignited a few weeks ago when the Canucks released a video visiting the defenceman at his lake house, shared with brother Jack Hughes, in Bloomington, Michigan.
While the video gave fans an inside look at the Hughes brothers’ competitive rivalries, boat outings, and off-season workouts, it also emphasized Quinn’s evolution from his rookie year, both on and off the ice. From cooking at home instead of eating at the rink, to being one of the longer-tenured players on the team, instead of the youngest.
Prior to Horvat’s captaincy, the Canucks were captainless after the retirement of Henrik Sedin for a season. Following that trend, if the Canucks decided not to name a captain to begin this season, the announcement would likely come the following year. One benefit of naming a Canucks captain this season rather than next is the chance to do so at the team’s home opener, which will take place at the first game of the year, rather than halfway through October.
The question then becomes do the Canucks wait? Unless the Canucks are still weighing their options for captaincy, there shouldn’t be any other reason for the team to prolong the decision any longer. The Canucks were already captainless for the latter half of this season, and given they spent yet another consecutive year reshuffling their roster, naming a captain would not only eliminate one of the team’s greatest unknowns, but it would also demonstrate to fans that the fiasco of the last two years is finally behind the organization.
And while as the team’s leading scorer and undeniable face of the franchise Pettersson may have been the easy answer to succeed Horvat as captain, from afar, there seems to be a greater eagerness from Hughes to take that next step in his career to support players trying to become a regular fixture in the lineup.
While that feeling isn’t devoid in Pettersson as well, Hughes also seems better suited for the interviews, limelight, and expectations that rest heavily on a shoulder’s captain. And from what we’ve witnessed from Hughes already, he isn’t the type of player to fold until pressure, but rather, rise to the occasion.
At just 23 years old, Hughes is just a year younger than Horvat was when he became captain, and for those who think Hughes is still too young, Trevor Linden was only 21 when he captained the team for the first time. By those standards, the Canucks are actually behind the eight-ball on this decision.
In general, there’s also been an insurgence of younger captains in the league. While this certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, in the last few seasons, post-Connor McDavid’s captaincy, more and more players who captained teams for quite some teams have either retired, been traded, or had their titles removed altogether in favour of younger upcoming stars — the latest example being Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators, a close friend of Hughes.
As the Canucks once again re-embark on their journey to a playoff spot, there’s no better person to be at the helm of this team than Hughes. He’s a success story in the making and the epitome of the types of players the Canucks are trying to bring into their system. Hughes was a top 10 draft pick by the organization, a protegee from the moment he stepped on the ice, and a season closer to locking down a Norris Trophy. All he’s missing is the “C” on his chest to equate to the leadership he’s already brought to the team.
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