It is interesting to see the groundswell of interest for naming David Backes the captain of the Blues. The idea has merit, but I think that the idea also has some flaws. I must say that I do not understand why people think that naming him the captain is such a great idea.
He is a fine young player. However, this year especially, he has been a major disappointment. He has only 15 goals. As a "premier" forward, that is not good. The current captain, who everyone hates, somehow has managed 7 goals as a defenseman.
Doesn't anybody remember the start of this season? After last year's fine production from David Backes, everyone thought that there was NO WAY that he would once again have a terrible start to the season. By this time in his career, he would have learned his lesson and would be ready from the "Get-Go." Unfortunately, that was not the case. He was absolutely terrible at the beginning of this season, not just the very beginning, but the first 20-30 games. It is hard to gauge the effort of a professional athlete, but it seemed, in the first twenty to thirty games of this season, that he was just not fully there. Believe me, I was at all of those (home) games, and I really wanted him to succeed, but he was just not there. I was so disappointed in him.
Accordingly, I do not think this player is yet "Captain material." I like Backes, but I also am not convinced that he has learned to show up every night, all 82 games, even the ones in October. He is part of the problem with the Blues, not the solution to the problem. He is one of the players who needs a great leader to kick his butt; he is not the person to do the kicking.
On the Blues' current roster, I am really not sure who should be the Captain. Perhaps that is one of their problems: they do not really have great leaders. There is no Barclay Plager or Al Arbour or Brian Sutter on this roster. There is no Glenn Hall. Backes certainly is not that type of player. The guys this year who have shown up and given 110% for every shift are few: Jay McClement, Alexander Steen, Mike Weaver, Cam Janssen, DJ King (the latter two: "in their role"): but these are not really players which would make sense for Captain.
My choice, if they take it away from Brewer, would be Erik Johnson. He is very young, but as the first overall choice, we expect that he will soon be a premier player in the National League, and will be so for many years. I would favor him very much over Backes.
Backes has been emblematic with what has been wrong with the Blues this year: significant underproduction from the "goal scorers," very bad start to the season (especially at Home), inconsistent effort. Why do so many people want to give this guy the "C" after such a bad year for him, and the team? It is true that he did okay for the Olympic team, but be honest, how many of you were surprised when he was chosen to the team despite his poor season? Also, Erik Johnson was also on that Olympic team and had arguably a bigger (and more effective) role than Backes.
I like Backes (for what he is), don't get me wrong. But he is having a very bad season, and it it tiresome after games to always hear him talk about how the Blues need to work harder and do better, when he himself is one of the main disappointments. I expect that he will have a better season next year: I hope that he will, at least. But he may not. When you think about it, why would you expect that he would? He is hard-nosed, but not as much as Brian Sutter, so will Backes ever score 40 goals? Backes could be a similar player to Brendan Shanahan, but I do not really think he is as skilled, and does not have the hands or the ability to find the seams for offensive-zone chances, so I doubt he ever will score 50 goals. Backes also is down in his PIMs this year; he is not putting the gloves on the ice very often at all.
Backes as captain, to me, someone who has been watching Blues' hockey since 1967, makes no sense. He has had a mediocre season for a mediocre team. He has had a very disappointing and underachieving season for a very disappointing and underachieving team. Making him the captain would be absolutely the WRONG thing to do. It would just legitimize the past season, and deem it to have been acceptable. Making Backes the Captain would reward mediocrity and underachievement. The Blues deserve better; the Blues' fans deserve better. I would like to keep Backes and give him something for next year: NOT a "C" for Captain, but a "C" for Chance: a chance to redeem himself for such a bad season this year; a chance to show up and be a professional in October, November, and December.