Case for Captain: Max Pacioretty

As the season edges closer, we also come closer to finding out who will have the “C” sewn on their jersey for this upcoming season. That is, if they to opt for a captain. During the 2014-15 season, the Montreal Canadiens uncommonly went without a captain for an entire season. Instead, they replaced the role with four alternate captains.

A case can be made for several players to be named the formal leader of the team. Alternate captains Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec all come to mind. Habs legend Guy Lafleur commented previously that he believes the hard working Brendan Gallagher is a good influence on the team and should serve as the captain. Many have argued that the true choice for captaincy is Carey Price. Although, rule 6.1 in the National Hockey League rulebook clearly states “no playing Coach or playing Manager or goalkeeper shall be permitted to act as Captain or Alternate Captain“. Even though Price will not have a “C” on his jersey does not mean he can not be a leader in the locker room.

There is so much talent, leadership, and maturity in the locker room that the case can be made for several individuals. But this specific article will be arguing the case for Max Pacioretty.

Photo: NHL.com

Photo: NHL.com

Max Pacioretty
Position: Left Wing
Age:
26
Birthplace:
New Canaan, CT, USA
Height:
6’2″
Weight:
214
Drafted:
22nd Overall (1st Round) – 2007 / Montreal (pick via San Jose)
Career Statistics:
144 Goals + 136 Assists = 280 Points in 399 Games

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A quality found in every perfect captain is maturity and leadership. It’s not only that many of the Habs faithful want the nearly 27-year old to be named captain, but Pacioretty understands that he has a leadership role on the team and wants to fulfill it. After the departure of former captain Brian Gionta to Buffalo, it became time for Pacioretty to step up in the locker room.

Those nights when we saw the Jean Béliveau and Saku ceremonies, all of these special nights seeing a lot of the legends around, they’ve really helped me understand what it takes to be a leader, I learned a lot from these events. I hope to incorporate that into my game and also my leadership role on this team.” – Max Pacioretty via Dave Stubbs/Montreal Gazette

As Pacioretty pointed out in Stubbs’ piece in the past, leaders carry themselves a certain way. They dress sharply, walk with a straight posture, display an acceptable level of confidence, and more.

I try to shave every day. It’s a small thing, but there’s something about having a family. You just want to set a good example for your kid. I think I’ve realized over the years how important it is to carry yourself a certain way.” – Max Pacioretty via Dave Stubbs/Montreal Gazette

Not that Pacioretty ever came across as an immature little kid to anybody, but he has had much reason to step up as a leader. Becoming a veteran on the team, his offensive display becoming a centre of attention in a hockey crazy city, and off the ice – becoming a father. Positive values were within Max as a child as well.

“I had to dress properly, always have my shirt tucked in and behave with dignity. I apply those principles today. I never leave the house without being properly dressed and shaved. I want to be a role model for young people.” – Max Pacioretty via Rejean Tremblay/QMI Agency/Toronto Sun

Typically, you want a captain who can back up his words on the ice. The captain of the team does not have to be the most talented athlete known to mankind, but it is ideal if they can set examples and earn respect from fans, officials, and the league alike. Not only can he perform on the ice, but for the last four consecutive seasons – Pacioretty has lead the team in points. If that is not a reason for the young professionals to look up to somebody and want to model your game after, I don’t know what is.

Pacioretty

As for respect from the referees, Guy Lafleur makes legitimate points as to why Gallagher would make a good captain and I am not here to try and refute them. But as for having to deal with the officials, it’s not a secret that Gallagher is not necessarily their favourite guy. It’s not rare either that opponents can get away with a lot against Brendan that they wouldn’t be able to get away with on somebody who’s name is not Brendan. As much effort and heart as Gallagher puts in to the game, for now – the distanced relationship with the officials is a critical hit to any potential captaincy. In the following quote, Pacioretty explains his relationship with the stripes.

Relationships with the referees is probably one of the biggest parts about being a leader. I’ve talked to Berge and Mike about that early on and they said, “It’s really important because everything goes through you, on the ice. We can’t be out there, you have to have a good relationship with the refs.” I’ve established really good relationships with a lot of them. Obviously, there’s times when I’m heated and I don’t like a call that’s been made, but I never say or do anything out of line. And I always make sure I apologize and always try to be calm and cool when I’m talking with them.” – Max Pacioretty via Dave Stubbs/Montreal Gazette

As previously mentioned, there is so much leadership and talent on this current Montreal Canadiens squad that whether it’s Pacioretty, Subban, Markov, Plekanec, Gallagher, or whoever, fans should be pleased with the decision. That is, if there is a decision to be made this year. While Bergevin and  management have expressed their understanding for the tradition that is to name a captain, they also recognize that it is certainly not a need. When they feel the team needs one, then one will be named.

One more interesting thing to note, well-respected wife of the late Jean Beliveau, Mrs. Elise Beliveau, had some praise for the left winger. According to Sportsnet, Mrs. Beliveau told TVA Sports in an interview that she told Pacioretty the morning of Jean Beliveau’s funeral “I hope you’ll be the captain. You’re the one for it“. While at no point has Max asked for captainship, he has stated that of course he would accept the honour.

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