Get your arguments and ridicule ready everyone. I'm gonna say something that's been on my mind for the last month, and you're gonna laugh. And argue. But I don't care anymore. It's got to be said. So, here goes: I think Tomas Plekanec should be considered for captain. There. It's out there.
Before you argue and ridicule, though, let me make the case for it. When you think of the qualities you'd like to have in a captain, what comes to mind? For me, they are work ethic, history with the team, contributions on the ice, leadership on the ice and in the room, the ability to publicly represent the team and personal strength. Of course, French would be an asset in Montreal too, but the current crop of players can't provide that option. So, looking at the factors I've named, Plekanec is not a ridiculous candidate for the "C."
Work ethic. Plekanec is the first one on the ice at practice every single day. He shows up at training camp in the best possible physical shape each season, and he never, ever takes a shift off during a game. The man works hard and any player taking an example from him would be better for it.
History with the team. Pleks is homegrown, which means he knows the organization intimately. He worked his way up to the big team after being a third-round draft pick and spending parts of four seasons in Hamilton. He knows what it means to be demoted and to be a young player fighting for ice time in Montreal. He also knows what it feels like to see your hard work pay off on the scoreboard. There's a lot of knowledge he can pass on to the younger players who are following the same path he took to get to Montreal.
Contributions on the ice. Nobody can argue with the results Plekanec's getting this year. Without any consistency in his linemates, he's been the team's best player. He's the team leader in scoring, is a great penalty killer, takes the important faceoffs and hustles all night long. This year, he's even introduced a higher level of chippiness in the corners too, which is certainly welcome.
Leadership. This is an intangible nobody can really quantify, except for the players in the room. But there are hints about what's going on there. You hear respect in their voices when players like Mike Cammalleri and Max Pacioretty talk about how hard Plekanec works and how well he's playing. You see him on the ice, talking and gesturing, communicating with his teammates with great confidence. You hear the stories about how he's taken it upon himself to talk Andrei Kostitsyn through his slump, explaining that Kostitsyn doesn't like yelling and needs to be praised when he does something good. Those things say "leader" to me, but of course, they don't tell the whole story. Only his teammates know that part.
Ability to represent the team in the community. Plekanec speaks English very well and is extremely accomodating with the media, especially this year. He'd have no trouble functioning appropriately at official events. He gives the impression he's comfortable in Montreal and he knows and respects the history of the team.
Personal strength. We all know Plekanec's candor and blunt self-assessment can be detrimental to his reputation. Nobody's going to forget the infamous "little girl" comment, no matter how well he plays. But Plekanec says those things because he cares. Two years ago when the team got eliminated by Philly, the enduring image for me was of Pleks desperately throwing himself at the empty net to try to prevent the back-breaking final goal, then lying desolate in the crease afterwards. He wants to win and he wants to be the best player on the team. That takes determination and pride. He's gone through some very tough times and learned from them. It's a process, and at 27, his character is still evolving.
The argument most of you will present is that there are other guys who are better with the media and more charismatic, like Cammalleri. There's Gionta, who's the definition of "intense." There's Markov who's the team's best all-around player and Hamrlik who's got seniority. All of those players could be candidates for the captaincy when the "C" is finally awarded. My point is that Plekanec should be included in that group as well. His play this year should have earned him that respect, both from the fans and from the team's management.
So there you go. Pleky for captain. I'd vote for him.