The NHL trade deadline is on the horizon and there’s a good chance Claude Giroux will be shipped off to another team in pursuit of a Stanley Cup. His absence will leave many holes within the Flyers organization, one of the biggest being his title as captain, a role he has held since 2012. There will be plenty of potential heirs to the throne, but not everyone makes a good captain. For the Flyers, it’ll be about finding the right guy to lead the team through one of the toughest stretches in franchise history.
The seemingly natural solution for next captain is the veteran who is the second best forward on the team behind Giroux, but it just can’t be the case. Couturier, who is in his 11th NHL season, just started wearing an “A” in 2019-20. Even though he may well be a respected voice in the room, it’s resonates the same stale voice that has influenced the team for a decade now. The next captain should be a breath of fresh air taking the team in a different direction, not more of the same tire spinning that’s been happening for years.
The second-longest tenured assistant on the team other than Couturier would be Ivan Provorov. The 25-year-old seems to take the “lead by example” route, which there’s nothing wrong with, but it may not equate to a great hockey captain. Is his voice loud enough to matter then the team needs it most? Does the rest of the team have the collective brain power to follow a lead by example approach?
A name that has started to rise to the top of the leadership group among the current team seems to be Scott Laughton. The 2012 first round pick has established himself as a flexible, bottom-nine forward that can squeeze into any role the team demands of him. Even though he’s a relied upon member of the team, typically speaking, the captain is also one of your best players. Even though Laughton may be one of the hardest working, he doesn’t really qualify as the best, which may ultimately keep him from being crowned captain.
A Young Guy
The team could always take the route the did with Giroux and thrust the title on to a young player. Right now, that would probably be Joel Farabee, who at just 21 years old, has the brightest future among the Flyers’ forwards. Potentially Cam York, who appears to be the real deal on the blueline, although he hasn’t secured a full-time NHL spot just yet. There’s a good chance that one day Farabee will be a leader on the team, but throwing the “C” on him right now seems premature. It’s best to let someone earn it rather than an undeserved coronation just because he’s young and the most talented option they currently have.
The Flyers roster is full of veteran players. Kevin Hayes? Cam Atkinson? Ryan Ellis? Maybe Justin Braun if he re-signs? Realistically, they could all throw their hat in the ring and be acceptable captains as they seem like the veteran leadership group on the team anyway. Sometimes players work better as the supporting cast rather than the guy in the spotlight, though having a relatively fresh voice take over in the room could help right the ship for the future.
The Flyers are probably poised to have a very busy summer when another large portion of the roster gets overhauled. Who knows who will be on the team to start the 2022-23 season. Maybe a young up-and-coming star is acquired, or a well-respected veteran that has leadership credentials with a past team is added. It’s very possible the next captain isn’t on the team yet.
These days, it’s not uncommon for a team to lose its captain for one reason or another and roll without a new “C” for a few seasons until somebody stands above the crowd and earns the title. That could very well be the best path for the Flyers to take. The veterans who have been here forever just continue to drag out the same problems that are already here, the kids are too young and don’t have a strong enough hold on an NHL spot yet to be calling the shots, and the veteran core of new guys appears to be a better supporting cast rather than bonafide leaders. Maybe rolling with a handful of assistants for at least the 2022-23 season and letting the cream rise to the top is the best way for the Flyers to pick a leader out moving forward.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: bleacherreport.com