Saturday, November 21, 2009

C Is For Captain, That's Good Enough For Me

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.


Anonymous said...

Oh, what the hell, I second the motion!

Number31 said...

I'd vote for him too, but I'd also settle for a duo-captaincy like Carbo/Chelios had :D Honestly though, Pleky has been just fantastic. Even last year when things weren't working out, he never gave up, he kept trying, he kept working. He answers to all comments and critism whether with media interviews in the room or whatever with tact and honesty. And not only is he an integral part in getting Kostitsyn back on track, but he was trying to get Latendresse to "go to the front of the net and part your ass there".

All and all, I can't believe people still want him traded. Even last year I was holding my breath by the deadline and angrily tossing all those Tampa Bay rumors into the garbage.

He's a Habs grown player, one we can't lose. Even Derek Wills still comments on how amazing he worked when he was with the Bulldogs. I dare say, our best player to come out of the system?

Howard said...

JT, when I think of it I have to agree with your choice. On the surface Pleky seems a little introverted, not a ra-ra locker room guy but more of a leading by example type which I think the other players respect. If you can bring AK46 out of his fog, anything is possible. I've been watching Pleky and each shift is a revelation whether it be on the forecheck, backcheck, the rush, PK, PP, faceoffs, I often have to adjust my jaw from dropping! He seems like he's always out there! Yet is very strict about limiting his icetime. He definitely is a force on this team and while there may be more marquee players like Gio and Cammy there won't be a more all-round player.
I'm incredulous at Bob Gainey's shortsighteness in only signing him for one year and almost letting him go to arbitration last summer. Gainey of all people should know what kind of player that Plekanec is (he's been in the organization for 8 years!) How much more time do you need to evaluate a player? Unfortunately for Gainey, it's going to cost a lot more now than it would have last year as it did with Streit and the traitor who ended up going elsewhere for the money. SIGN HIM NOW!!!

Anvilcloud said...

Yes, let's at least include him in the conversation. And let's hope he's here next year.

Topham said...

Nothing to ridicule in the idea at all. He'd be an asset at captain.

Speaking of ridicule. That's what I got when I mentioned Hamrlik and captain in the same breath in the summer. I see he's somehow making his case too...

DB said...

Pleks should clearly be on the list. He reminds me a lot of Dave Keon - an excellent two-way centre who always worked his ass off and was a Conn Smythe winner. Yeah Keon was a Leaf, but so what, he still was a good player and he gains points because he still won't have anything to do with the Leafs after the way they treated him in the 70's.

The bigger question is not whether we think Pleks should be on the list, but whether Martin and Gainey will consider him. You would think if Pleks was in the running that he would have gotten the "A" last night instead of Moen.

Andrew Berkshire said...

He deserves to be at least considered that's for sure. To be honest though you're wrong about one thing, the little girl comment. I've forgotten about it completely. Plekanec has reinvented himself this season and he's been downright amazing. I would have no problem whatsoever with him being captain or assistant captain, he's earned it. If Pleks keeps up this pace all year we have a real shot in the playoffs.

pfhabs said...


-the C is fine by me even co-Captains but I would be more encouraged by a contract offer to Plekanec

-of course Bob would have to abandon his well thought out and proven no in-season negotiation policy

Brian said...

If the guys in the room get to vote their Captain, I'd think he has a decent chance.

Unknown said...

Like what you are proposing. Unfortunately because of Bob's boneheaded signing of Gomez, Pleks is more than likely gone. We simply don't have the cap space for TWO small second line centers.
If we don't like the Gomez deal now, how much more will it sting when Pleks walks.

~czechtacular said...


i'd be the last person to argue everything you've written in this. hell, i'm still waiting in frustration to see how many more injuries it takes for them to give him an "A". but really, the only thing i'd see that would prevent any seriousness in his bid would be... himself. ridiculously humble as he is, it's very likely he'd place a range of other names ahead of his own.

saskhab said...

Shocking! JT thinks her favourite player should be captain!

Just as shocking: I still think my favourite player (Markov)should be captain (for a lot of the same reasons you argued for Plex)!

J.T. said...

@saskhab: I'd be perfectly happy with Markov as captain as well. Love the guy. I'm just making the point that Pleks' name should be in the mix, which is a huge turnaround for him over last year.

pemorin said...

I'm happy you mentioned this, because i this passed through my mind the other day also. It's the kind of thing i did not discuss with anyone, almost out of inexplicable shame. Kind of like everybody would think i am a fool for thinking it. I am still not sure he would be my pick (i am happy with the current status quo), but he definitely deserves to be considered.