Editor's Note: The above video is from Joe Pavelski addressing Sharks fans on April 6.
SAN JOSE – New Sharks coach Peter DeBoer has said that the process of choosing a new captain and leadership group will be just that – a process. He’ll get to know the personalities on his team over the next few weeks of training camp before making any announcement about who will have a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ stitched onto his sweater.
One year ago, the Sharks were in a similar position after stripping the ‘C’ from Joe Thornton. It was likely a distraction throughout camp before Todd McLellan finally revealed just a few hours before the season opener in Los Angeles that Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic would serve as rotating alternates in what proved to be a failed experiment.
At present, the Sharks are one of just two teams without an official captain (DeBoer’s former team, the Devils, is the other). The exact time frame is unclear, but the Sharks will reveal their new captain and alternates at some point before Oct. 7 when they again open the season at the Staples Center.
“I think it’s important that someone does wear the ‘C,’” said Tommy Wingels, who has emerged as one of the club’s young leaders and could be in consideration for a letter. “That being said, that guy is not going to be the only guy who’s a leader on this team. One guy wears the ‘C,’ but we’ve said around here that this is a team of leaders. … It’ll be a leadership by committee, but I think it’s a good idea to have someone wear the ‘C.’”
As has been said for many months, Joe Pavelski is the odds-on favorite to become the next captain, although no one knows for sure what DeBoer is thinking. The 31-year-old right wing, who has developed into one of the NHL’s best goal scorers the past few seasons, embraced the role of unofficial team spokesman during last season’s bumpy ride.
Pavelski recently indicated to Sportsnet Canada that he would welcome becoming the ninth full-time captain in franchise history. “I think everybody wants to be a captain at some point,” he told the network.
“Obviously being a part of the leadership group you work every year to improve yourself, and to hopefully be a part of that at a young age and keep kind of throwing your name in there and keep being important to the team and contribute,” he followed up with local reporters on Friday.
Pavelski also hinted that last year’s structure didn’t work. “There were a lot of things going on and that was one of them,” he said.
Along with selecting the next captain, there’s also the matter of alternates of which the Sharks could select two full-time, or could even go with a rotating foursome (perhaps two alternates at home, and two on the road). One player that was curiously left out of the official group last season was Logan Couture, and the center admitted last season that he was disappointed when he wasn’t part of that group.
Does he want one this year?
“If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” Couture said. “I’m going to come in and do what I do, whether I have a letter or not. I’ve been here for a while and I think of myself as a leader on this team. [I’m] going to try and take on that role and help our team.”
Whether any of the previous alternates remain is in question. Thornton would seem like a logical choice to at least keep an ‘A’ after his strong season last year, but Marleau, who struggled, may not be. Vlasic, too, may have to earn a letter again, especially after the addition of veteran Paul Martin on defense.
"If I wear a letter, that's great, if I don't, that's great as well. It won't change the way I play,” Vlasic said.
“I’m just focused on playing and that stuff will take care of itself,” Marleau said.
Whatever happens, it will be a welcome change from the confusion and distractions that arose from some unfortunate decisions a year ago.