As the team prepares for training camp, news is starting to trickle out. The first bit of news comes from head coach Jeff Blashill: instead of handing out Henrik Zetterberg‘s captaincy to a young, star player, the team will instead proceed with four alternate captains for the 2019-20 season. They will be Dylan Larkin, Justin Abdelkader, Frans Nielsen, and Luke Glendening.
Jeff Blashill says Wings are going with four A’s this season: Larkin, Abdelkader, Nielsen and Glendening.
— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) September 12, 2019
The news shouldn’t come as a shock, but it still stings a fanbase that has been calling for Larkin’s promotion to captain. As a 22-year-old, Larkin lead the team in goals (32) and points (73) last year, while assuming the full-time #1 center role. He took a step forward on the ice and stood tall for his teammates in post-game interviews and scrums. He’s a clear leader on and off the ice. Not naming him captain now is simply delaying it for another year, likely until Zetterberg’s contract is officially off the books.
As for the remaining players named alternate captains, the Wings are obviously leaning heavily into veteran leadership and their hard work ethic. Abdelkader and Glendening are both replacement-level and would struggle to find a regular position on most other Atlantic Division teams. And then there’s Nielsen, a shell of his former self, but has a wealth of experience from his 13-year NHL career.
This whole decision is a puzzling one, in my view. In a year where team management has acknowledged low expectations for their on-ice product, you would think that they’d want to give something to the fans that is new and exciting. Giving the captaincy to Larkin would have ticked that box, giving a sliver of hope and excitement to what’s going to be a dire season already.
I guess they just thought he wasn’t ready yet.
No matter, the hashtag will live on.