With less than a month until the season begins, the Nashville Predators are still without a captain. GM David Poile is in no rush to choose another though.
Since Mike Fisher‘s retirement less than a month ago, the Nashville Predators have been on the hunt for their next captain. Fisher served as the captain for one season, before hanging up the skates after 18 NHL seasons. Now, GM David Poile and HC Peter Laviolette face the task of selecting the next Predator captain.
When Fisher retired, the question on every fan’s mind was not only how to replace his production, but also who would replace him as the leader of the Predators. Although he was only captain for one season, Fisher was a vital leader in the Predators Stanley Cup run. His veteran savvy served the Predators well, as the team is as young as any in the league. Choosing a captain is never an easy task, as that player effectively becomes the face of the franchise. With the Predators’ season opener on October 5th, Poile and Laviolette have yet to select a new captain. However, they have made it clear that they are in no rush.
How are they going about it?
GM Poile said that “Peter (Laviolette) and I are going to talk to a number of players throughout training camp. We’re going to more or less interview a lot of guys and form the leadership group from which the (alternate) captains and captain will come from. … It might be by the beginning of the season.”
Poile’s thoroughness in the process is reassuring, however, fans are dying to know who will be the next Predator to wear the captain’s ‘C’.
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Last season’s alternate captains Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis are the clear favorites in most people’s minds. Fisher was 36 when named captain, which means that the next captain will be much younger. Josi, 27, and Ellis, 26, are two strong candidates. Both are a part of the Predators blue line, which is among the best in the NHL. Both are quiet, yet confident leaders, who have been instrumental in the Predators success in recent years.
Although Josi and Ellis are obviously the favorites. Other names are in the mix as well. Players like P.K. Subban, 28, and Ryan Johansen, 25, are in the mix. Subban served as an alternate captain for the Montreal Canadiens from 2014-2016. Johansen, while young, has been a great leader and producer for the Predators over the last two years.
Laviolette said that, “We do feel that a lot of players have really matured and shown good leadership and learned from the right people and are in situations to possibly expand their role.”
What about Ellis?
Ellis’ campaign for captain took a hit last week. Eliotte Friedman reported that Ellis would not be able to start the season. Ellis has been fighting a knee injury this offseason, and recovery from surgery will keep him off the ice for a while. However, Laviolette stated that Ellis’ injury would not disqualify him from the captaincy.
“This injury, while we wish he had him for the start of camp, is a short-term thing, relatively speaking, in his career,” Laviolette said.
Is Josi the Next Captain?
On Sunday, 19 Predators served at the 12th Man for the Tennessee Titans season opener in Nashville. The Titans offensive line became famous during the NHL Playoffs for their appearances in Smashville, chugging beers and parading catfish around.
The Predators returned the favor on Sunday, and served as the Titans hype men. Although this is a needle in a haystack, Josi was the Predator who drove the Titan Sword into the field, while the other 18 Predators watched. Could that indicate a potential captaincy? That’s for the fans to decide.
A sword into a football field is certainly not the final say on who will be captain of a hockey team. Maybe an indicator though. Only time will tell…
Laviolette and Poile are in no rush. They’re as good a GM/HC duo that you’ll find in sports, so Predator fans can rest assured that they’ll make the right choice.