Alex Pietrangelo (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
The St. Louis Blues named Alex Pietrangelo their captain Thursday, and the 26-year-old becomes the 21st player to wear the ‘C’ in franchise history. Pietrangelo said he understands he has big shoes to fill, but the organization feels he’s ready to face the pressure.Alex Pietrangelo’s growth has been steady over his career with the St. Louis Blues as he’s gone from first-round draft pick to all-star calibre defenseman in six short seasons. And as of Thursday, Pietrangelo’s growth has officially taken the next — and arguably biggest — step as he was appointed the 21st captain in Blues history. "I’m up for this challenge, and I think I’ve surrounded myself with a group of guys in this locker room that can support me, no matter what happens,” Pietrangelo said in a release. “Personally I want to keep growing as a player and lead by example on the ice. All I've known is the St. Louis Blues and the city of St. Louis. To be in this position to represent not only the team but the organization as a whole, it means a lot to me." Pietrangelo was the obvious frontrunner for the captaincy, but he wasn’t the only possibility. Teammates Alex Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and even relative-newcomer Paul Stastny all had somewhat legitimate claims to the ‘C’ that was vacated when David Backes left town for the Boston Bruins. However, each of Steen, Tarasenko and Stastny, as well as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, will take on alternate captaincies this coming season with the top job going to Pietrangelo. It makes perfect sense, too, because with Backes gone, Pietrangelo is the hands-down leader for the Blues, an all-around stud for the team who will be one of the major determining factors in deciding how far St. Louis goes in the near future. “He touches every facet of our team: power play, penalty kill, shutting games down, trying to score at the end of the game,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong told StLouisBlues.com of Pietrangelo. “He’s just an elite player. When his name comes up for Team Canada, he’s a lock when I talk to Mike Babcock and coaches around the League. He’s viewed as a top player. We’re certainly lucky to have him, and when you add the character — I think he’s going to be a great captain for the Blues.” Pietrangelo said. Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.