Captains. Some argue how to choose the perfect leader, every team has a captain and you’ll notice there is no set guideline to achieving the prestigious title. Some captains lead by example, the guys who go out and produce every night. Others by experience, the “Old dogs” if you will, provide off-ice insight invaluable to younger players. So which is better? Experience? Production? Today I’ll rank some of the top, current, captains in the league based on a number of factors such as experience, individual production, and team success.
5.) Dustin Brown. Brown has accomplished a lot of hardware in his NHL career. Drafted 13th overall in 2003, Brown would find himself named captain just after the start of the 2008-09 season making him the youngest captain in LA Kings history as well as the first (and only) U.S. born captain. Brown is most known for his hard hitting gritty style of play, and willingness to do whatever it takes to win, as well as his cool calm demeanor as a captain. Brown would go on to win not one, but two Stanley cups with the Kings, one in 2012 where he tied Anze Kopitar for the postseason points lead with 20, and the other in 2014 becoming just the second US born captain after Derian Hatcher, to hoist the greatest trophy in hockey. At the conclusion of the 2013-14 season he would go on to win the Mark Messier Leadership award "in recognition of his commitment and service to charities in his community."
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4.) Zdeno Chara. The tallest person to ever play in the NHL at 6 ft. 9in, and 2nd European born captain to win the cup after Nicklas Lidstrom, takes the number four spot on the list. Originally drafted in the third round, 56th overall by the New York Islanders, Chara would bounce around before becoming captain of the Boston Bruins. Traded by the Islanders which saw Chara, Bill Muckalt, and the second overall pick (Jason Spezza) sent to Ottawa in return for Alexei Yashin. And yes you read that correct. (Seriously, Mike Milbury what the @!#$ were you thinking?!?!) He would thrive in Ottawa before signing a 5yr/$37.5 million dollar deal with Boston where he was immediately named captain and established himself as an elite defenseman. Chara was just the third ever Slovak born captain in NHL history, and led his team to Cup glory in 2011. Chara is the epitome of Boston Bruins hockey, he’s big, mean, and isn’t the most popular player in the league. Without Zdeno Chara, the Bruins never would’ve found an identity, let alone win a Stanley Cup.
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3.) Sidney Crosby. Sid the Kid, what more can be said? Crosby, despite the heaviest expectations for a player in 20 years, would turn a bankrupt Pittsburgh Penguins team to a club that built a brand new arena and saw its fan base grow exponentially. The 2nd youngest captain in NHL history at 19 years of age, had already won the Art Ross Trophy (leading NHL scorer, 120 points), the Hart Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable player), and the Lester B. Pearson Award (Most outstanding player.) before turning 20. Crosby would be named captain in the 2007-08 season leading them to a Stanley cup final appearance, in which they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in six games, and again in 2008-09 where they would get revenge on the same Detroit team defeating them in seven games. Crosby then became the youngest NHL captain in history to win the Stanley Cup. Sid the Kid would go on to add to his hardware collection winning a “Rocket” Richard Trophy (Most Goals in an NHL season (51)), and the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2009-10. Sidney Crosby single handedly saved a failing franchise and led them to ultimate glory, not only being the face of the penguins, but as the face of the NHL.
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2.) Shane Doan. The longest-serving captain in the NHL right now. When you think of captains, Shane Doan has to come to mind. Drafted 7th overall in the 1995 NHL entry draft, Doan would be named captain in the 2003-04 season and would be the heart and soul of the struggling Phoenix* Coyotes. Doan would then go on to lead the Coyotes in scoring from 2003 to 2011, become the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer, and win over the approval of almost every NHL fan and player for his love of the game, and loyalty to the Coyotes. Shane Doan is the only person on this list to not hoist a Stanley Cup, which has nothing to do with his leadership, as the players around him were (How do I put this nicely?) garbage. Doan had many opportunities to go to a contending team and have a chance at winning it all, but always remained loyal through the not so thick, and very thin times. Doan is almost the perfect captain, loyal, hardworking, beloved, a great mentor, and a great player, but the fact that he has never won that one trophy that every player wants to hoist, I have to put him second. No one deserves to win a cup more than Shane Doan.
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1.) Jonathan Toews. Taking 1st on this list is the man known as “Captain Serious.” Toews was drafted 3rd overall in 2006 and would go on to win the Calder in 2007-08. The following year he was named captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, becoming the third youngest captain in NHL history at the age of 20. Toews would go on to lead his team to win the Stanley Cup in 2010, as well as taking home the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) for the Blackhawks first Stanley Cup in 49 years. Toews would then go on to lead what many people believe to be a dynasty Blackhawks team, to another victory in 2013 and as DJ Khaled would say, another one, in 2015. Toews is known for being incredibly serious when it comes to his leadership role, and has managed to lead a young Blackhawks team to the greatest success in modern NHL times. Not only has his team successfully won the Cup THREE times, but he has won so much hardware he probably had to buy a bigger house. He was the youngest player to ever join the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, World Championship gold medal, and Olympic Games gold medal) as well as winning the Best Forward in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Frank J. Selke trophy (Best defensive forward), 2015 Mark Messier Leadership Award, and the 2015 ESPY Best NHL Player. Hard to argue with his results.