Who should be the Flames’ alternate captains?

Since Mark Giordano was named the Flames’ captain back at the start of the 2013-14 season, Calgary has had a handful of different guys perform the task as alternates. Most recently, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, and Sean Monahan have carried that role, with a handful of other names, mostly since departed, who have worn the ‘A’ for a brief period of time.

Well, curiously enough, the Flames do not currently list any alternate captains. And considering the turnover ongoing in the club – Russell is gone, Wideman is almost certainly gone within the year, Monahan is going to be around forever hopefully – the lack of alternates at this point in time isn’t exactly surprising.

That means there’s room, though. And the Flames have a handful of potential candidates already.

Mikael Backlund

Backlund has already worn the ‘A’ for the Flames in the past. It hasn’t been for too long – just a couple of times when other players were injured – but he’s had it.

He’s also worn it the past two times he’s played for Team Sweden at the World Championships. Out of everybody on the Flames, he and Giordano have been around the longest. He’s been through the playoff droughts, and has stuck around year after year after year, present when the Flames delayed their rebuild, and then finally, during the rebuild itself.

Backlund has matured over the years into the most responsible two-way player on the roster, and has been able to provide something of a mentorship role on the ice as well, most notably (and recently) with Sam Bennett. He gets a lot of ice time and would probably be a fine player to get to wear an ‘A’ full time.

T.J. Brodie

Like Backlund, Brodie, too, has gotten the chance to wear the ‘A’ for the Flames in limited time before.

He’s also one of the longest-tenured members of the Flames, behind just Giordano and Backlund, and about tied with Lance Bouma. Unlike Bouma, though, and like Backlund and his defence partner, Brodie sees the ice. A lot. He’s one of the most frequently-played Flames, and as a top pairing defenceman, he’s pretty much constantly out there.

Frankly, it’s odd he’s only worn the ‘A’ in just brief periods of time this past season. Him getting it full-time would just make sense.

Johnny Gaudreau

Gaudreau has never worn a letter for the Flames. I have no idea if it’s something he’d want to do, but fact is, he’s a leader on this team. He led the team in scoring this past season, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, it was probably the first season of many. He’s already the guy to go to on offence, and is one of the team’s MVPs, if not just him outright.

So Gaudreau with a letter just plain might make sense.

Sean Monahan

It would be kind of odd to have a player have a letter for one year, even if only for half of the games, and then take it away the next, wouldn’t it? If Monahan isn’t back with a letter next season that would be eyebrow raising.

The question is, is he ready to wear a letter full time? He did captain the 67’s in his final year in junior, and at the age of soon-to-be 22, he’ll already be entering his fourth season in the NHL. It would be fitting, if only because he’s probably going to wear a letter for a long, long time.

Others

There is an argument to be had for a couple of other players. Deryk Engelland and Matt Stajan are veteran leaders on the Flames. At the same time, though, they aren’t a part of the core, and will likely be leaving the team sooner rather than later. There are enough core players above them that it probably isn’t necessary.

Newcomer Troy Brouwer is a veteran who is going to be with the Flames for a lot longer. He’s also worn an ‘A’ during his time in Washington, and when leadership is one of the things he was brought in for, it makes sense. But he is a newcomer – and the Flames already have enough candidates with greater longevity that he may not get a letter.

Michael Frolik and Dougie Hamilton could maybe be considered possibilities as well. They’re expected to be with the Flames for a while yet, and if they aren’t core players (though I would consider Hamilton one), they’re the next step below. But again, they’re relative newcomers who haven’t quite established themselves on the Flames in the way some of the above options have – and in that case, it probably makes more sense for their jerseys to stay plain.

Who do you think deserves to wear the alternates’ ‘A’s next season for the Flames? Sound off in the comments!

  • The Sultan

    Monahan should keep the A all season, both home and away. Brodie and Backlund deserve the A by virtue of being leaders on the ice, and for having been here the longest, and failing either of the above, Johnny Gaudreau if he wants it.

    Although I fully expect Sam Bennett to blossom into a first line center and future captain. And that’s no knock against Monahan, just the quality of players we have.

    • OKG

      Nice to see someone else who sees it like I do. Bennett is the kind of guy you go to war for, like Giordano and Iginla before him. Monahan is more of a placeholder captain, like Conroy was.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Mickis, Sean, TJ would be the pool I’d choose from. Either pick 2, or pick one and have the other two split home and away, or put all 3 on a rotation.

  • MWflames

    This article reminded me of how long backlund has been a part of this organization.

    I love that guy, and he’s always been very effective relative to what he earns. I’d be happy to see him be a lifer. Give him an A this year please.

    A’s should be backlund, Brodie and monahan. With the last two probably being captain material in he future.

    I wouldn’t burden gaudreau with an A, let him focus on being a point machine. I get the sense he loves pressure on the ice, but may not thrive with more off ice pressure

  • beloch

    First of all, I’d like to remind everyone that the role of the Captain and Alternate Captains is to represent the team when talking to officials. Many fans think of the job as being primarily one of leadership, which has indeed grown around the role, but that’s not the case. The core role of the job really is communicating with the refs.

    If Giordano and Brodie remain a pair (they should), it doesn’t make a lot of sense to slap an A on Brodie. Ideally, you want a captain or alternate on the ice as much as possible, so giving an A to a guy who is mostly on the ice when the Captain is tends to be sub-optimal.

    Spreading the C’s and A’s across multiple defensive pairings is a great way to have good coverage of the job. I could see the team leaving Wideman with an A just to show their support for the guy, but that’s honestly a bad idea. The refs are going to be heavily prejudiced against him and, whether that’s fair or not, it does impair Wideman’s ability to do the job. Among the other defenders outside of the top pairing, Engelland seems to be the best candidate. I’m not sure if Jokipakka’s English is up to snuff yet, Dougie is still very young, and the other two positions on the blueline seem to be rather up in the air at present.

    Brouwer was a captain in junior, so I could see him wearing an A for the Flames. His job may be to limit the liberties (and slashes) other teams are taking with Gaudreau, so it makes sense for him to be designated to talk to the refs. Monahan is unquestionably future leadership material, but is he assertive enough to do this job yet? If Brouwer does not wind up playing on the top line, it makes sense to give Monahan an A. The Flames really need to be consistently giving the ref’s an ear-full whenever somebody tries to crack Johnny’s wrists.

    • supra steve

      “the role of the Captain and Alternate Captains is to represent the team when talking to officials.”

      Yes, that is the role, by definition. But in reality, anyone and everyone talks to the officials during and in between play. I can think of no situation where having a D pairing both wear a letter would create a problem when they were not on the ice. When needed, during stoppages in play, players wearing letters can and do go from bench to ice to talk with officials.

      I do agree that Wideman is probably not the best choice this season.

    • cberg

      Beloch,
      Thanks for the insightful commentary on the actual role of the Assistant Captains, especially on the ice. This would have really enhanced the article past the popularity contest-type listing of a bunch of guys.

      Obviously the function is pretty important to take into consideration, and the primary reason I wouldn’t be thinking TJ Brodie, since Giordano is usually on the ice with him. I would continue that role with Monahan because they seem to be grooming him for Captaincy down the road, plus he plays regularly with Gaudreau. Backlund seems an obvious choice too. After that probably Stajan and then I don’t know. There are several relatively new guys that might also be good, like Frolic (duplicates Backlund) and Brouwer (possibility, may duplicate Monahan) and of course Wideman. With Wides I’m hoping a trade comes along sooner than later, and I’m torn on whether its better or worse having him talk to the refs to get beyond last year’s incident.

      • freethe flames

        While I have a great deal of respect for Stajan and I believe he is part of the leadership team(locker room) I think his game has taken a significant dip the last two seasons. The only time I thought he was reasonably effective last year was when he played with Backs at the end of the season. Unfortunately we have him for 2 more seasons at over $3m a year; thank you BB.

        Like you I am hoping that the Flames can move Wides; I had hoped he would have been at the draft- he and one of our picks for a NHL forward, I still hope he can be moved in a hockey deal but I would be happy with a trade for draft picks. As it sits now, NJ seems like the logical place; they have cap space, they have a need for a veteran RHD, and they have 2 third and 4th round draft picks. Trade Wides and our 5th to NJ for one of each of their 3/4 picks and I would be happy. Then use the cap space to sign another UFA forward and defender for less than $4 and have some cap space for another deal if needed.

        Watching players get signed for reasonable deals Schenn for $1.25m ave for 2 years and K Hayes $2.6m for 2 years makes me believe it is a buyers market right now; but w/o cap space not much can get done.

  • Foximus

    Monahan for sure. Backlund would be a good choice as another.
    I agree that since Brodie plays with Giordano it would be a waste for him. I’m thinking Hamilton as the 3rd “A”. He’s part of the long term and plays on a different line than Gio.

  • jupiter

    I agree that Wideman will attract prejudice from the official’s. I also think it is wrong, and has been brought about by the jerk who runs the league.

    It has also resulted in punishing the Flames organization and greatly diminishing the value of one of there assets.

    Bettman dismissing the arbitrator and his decision will surely keep this case alive for another 6 months, which will handicap the organization even more.

  • Skuehler

    Man TJ is everything ypu want in a pro. His game does the talking and while he plays with a ton of confidence he doesnt come accross as cocky. He seems like a logical choice, along with Monahan, to wear an A.

  • Brodano12

    It seems very obvious to me that they are grooming Monahan to be the next captain. He trains with Gio in the summer, was brought by management to the draft with Gio, and just is generally brought around to events that Gio is at. They want him to learn from the best and Gio is the best to learn from.

  • Stan

    Brodie seems too quiet and mild mannered to have a letter in my opinion. I could be completely wrong but just the impression I’ve got from him.

    I’d give the A’s to Monahan, Backlund and Brouwer.

  • Slowmo

    Beloch I like your thinking and should be someone that can communicate with the refs as well so I give the A to Wideman :). He is a great communicator when it comes to the refs I vote Wides.