Jonathan Toews and Mike Richards, captains of last year's Stanley Cup finalists, are two of the youngest 'C'-bearers in the NHL. (Getty Images)
Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf took to the ice Sunday night wearing the ‘C’ for the first time after being voted Scott Niedermayer’s replacement by his teammates. Getzlaf, 25, joins the NHL’s rank of under-30 captains, a group that seemingly grows with every new anointed leader.
Of the 27 teams that currently have an official captain (San Jose, Atlanta and Vancouver do not), the average age of the man with the ‘C’ is a tad older than 30, but that includes greybeards Nicklas Lidstrom (40), Adam Foote (39) and Doug Weight (39). Of the 10 youngest NHL captains, the average age is less than 25; the average of the 16 oldest is 34.
In the Oct. 11 edition of The Hockey News, THN’s Ryan Kennedy examines the changing nature of the captaincy in the NHL and concludes it is more important than ever. But that got us thinking, if it’s so important, why is it so often handed to younger players? And who are the league’s youngest captains?
The answer to the first question is there are a number of factors involved – from both on and off the ice. The answer to the second, we have for you here with THN.com’s Top 10 youngest NHL captains.
The Blue Jackets sniper is the “old man” of the group and enters his third season as team captain.
‘Big Daddy Cane’ turns 26 on Oct. 29. He was handed the ‘C’ last January, despite the fact his predecessor, Rod Brind’Amour, was still with the team. In the midst of a terrible season, Carolina’s management felt it best to make the inevitable transition sooner than later.
‘The King of Kings’ turns 26 just six days after Staal and is entering his third season as L.A.’s captain. Quoted in Kennedy’s story, Brown was happy the Kings were a young team when he was named captain.
Richards turned 25 in February and followed in the footsteps of Flyers legend Bobby Clarke as a young guy handed the reins early in his career. Richards is also entering his third season as captain. (Picking up on a trend here?)
Phaneuf, born April 10, was named the 20th captain in Maple Leafs history after the team went two seasons without anyone wearing the ‘C’ following Mats Sundin’s departure.
The league’s newest captain – for now – was born May 10, exactly a month after Phaneuf. Getzlaf is big, strong and has 100-point potential. He’s also already a Stanley Cup and Olympic champion.
Born in August, Weber was named Nashville’s captain in July after Jason Arnott was traded to New Jersey. Known for a booming shot and bone-crunching hits, Weber is deadly at both ends of the ice.
The last of the 25-year-old captains, ‘Ovie’ actually turned down the ‘C’ at one point, before his predecessor, Chris Clark, was traded in December 2009; Ovechkin was a unanimous choice by his teammates to take the ‘C’ after Clark was dealt.
Crosby is also a Cup and Olympic champion. He was named Pens captain while still 19 years old prior to the 2007-08 season. He’ll have a chance to reach Steve Yzerman’s record of 19 seasons as captain.
The youngest captain in the league just led his team to the Stanley Cup. Toews was only 20 when he was named captain of the Blackhawks and, along with Crosby, has a chance to be a ‘lifer’ and surpass Yzerman’s mark.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Mondays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 5, and other great features from the world of hockey.