The Detroit Red Wings are one of the most storied teams in NHL history. Guys like Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom and many more have worn the “C” on their Jersey as team captain. The team has had no shortage of great leaders and seemed poised to see many more in the years to come.
Detroit’s current captain, Henrik Zetterberg, is 35 years of age and not getting any younger. “Z” has had a hell of a career and is destined for the Hall of Fame. The 7th round pick in 1999 has won one Stanley Cup (2008), a Conn Smythe trophy as NHL Playoff MVP (2008), the Calder Memorial trophy as Rookie of the Year (2003), and the Frank J Selke trophy as best defensive forward (2008). He holds the team record for points in consecutive games and playoff goals and points.
Detroit will have a tough time replacing Z’s leadership in the locker room. Who should succeed Zetterberg as captain in the Motor City? Here are a few options:
Justin Abdelkader signed a seven year contract extension midseason and will be on the team long after Zetterberg calls it a career. He seems to be a safe bet in terms of future on the team. Abdelkader has shown a willingness to stand up for his teammates, and after his altercation with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mike Blunden during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, he’s become almost like a folk hero of sorts amongst the fan base. His grit and ability to produce on the score sheet should make him a great candidate to wear the C next.
Kronwall, in my honest opinion, seems to be underappreciated within the organization, despite being assistant captain. I can’t quite pinpoint why I get this feeling, but regardless, Kronner is a great candidate to wear the C next. He has shown grit and willingness to stand up for teammates. He’s someone who can make teammates better. He’ll also be the longest tenured Red Wing after Z leaves. However, Kronner is 35 years old. He may leave the same year Zetterberg does, so he probably seems unlikely to succeed Zetterberg.
Larkin is going to be 20 next year. He had an amazing rookie season, leading the team in points and among league leaders in plus/minus. However, although he will be captain down the line, giving him the C would be a risk. The team has rallied around him before, yes, but he has no experience in leading an NHL locker room. Still, I can see the Wings trying to rush his development and putting the C on him.
Tatar has emerged as a leader in the locker room, and although he, like Larkin, have no experience in leading an NHL locker room, he is still looked at as a leader and could fill into the C role easily. He’s one of the top scorers on the Red Wings and is able to really make everyone around him better. He seems to be well liked by teammates and coaches. He seems to know what to say at the right time. Tatar should be seriously considered to succeed Zetterberg’s reign.
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