ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 5: David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues takes a shot on goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Scottrade Center on April 5, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Today, we got official word of what we all wanted, and what we all hoped the Blues wouldn’t fuck up. And fuck it up they didn’t: They named David Backes as captain.
That, friends, is awesome.
What’s not awesome is that we, once again defying all possible hockey normalcy, chose to name a ridiculous number of alternate captains: Barret Jackman, Jamie Langenbrunner, Andy McDonald, Alex Steen, Louie and Angellllllllla. (OK, so the last two are a stretch. You have to wear pants to be a captain, obviously.)
4:40 P.M. me: i hope we dont have 5 fucking As
like we always do
4:41 PM Joe: here are the alternate captains: Backes, Jackman, Steen, Petro, McDonald, Arnott, Langenbrunner
What Joe wrote there was a joke. He was kidding, suggesting the Blues would go with six alternate captains instead of one captain. The standard in the NHL is one captain and two alternate captains. (Unless you’re the Minnesota Wild, who rotated captaincy every month of their existence from 2000 to 2009. Really.) So why the hell do the Blues, ever since Chris Pronger stopped donning the C, seem to have umpteen A's on the ice?
Can they all talk to the ref at once? Can we, at the very least, get them all in a Brady Bunch screen, looking at Davis Payne in the middle? Please?
A hockey team's roster is, at maximum, 23 players. And if it's at capacity, a lot of those guys are sitting in the press box. Twelve forwards, six defenseman and a goalie are all that usually see the ice.
And yet, here we are with five guys -- one-fourth of the players who are dressed in a game -- who are leaders to the point that they deserve an A? Consider this: At the end of last season, we didn't even have one guy who the team thought fit to give a C. (Which, of course, is BS -- we all know Backes was fit for the role. I guess J.D. & Co wanted to let Eric Brewer's dead robot corpse warm over some before they turned over the C. Having a captain, apparently not as important as having TWELVE guys who are all somewhat leaders.)
Which brings me to: How many bosses do you have? Probably one or two who immediately oversee your production, right? And how many times have you done things to one person's specification, only to have another high-up come over and reject EXACTLY the shit your other boss just said? It's happened to us all at least once -- it's called having too many cooks in the kitchen.
Sidenote, there's a guy on my train right now wearing a Blackhawks hat. Fuck you, guy.
Anyway. I'm pretty sure all the Cup winners I can remember in recent years have known who got to hoist Lord Stanley first during the celebration because they had one captain. We are now at that stage, thank goodness (and also at the stage that our captain isn't a complete rihtard, which is also nice). But honestly, why FOUR alternates?
Do letters even mean anything when everybody's got one?
Maybe they do -- maybe the young guys on the Blues look up to all five of their captainships. Or maybe Alex Pietrangelo thinks to himself: "Yeah, I had one of those A's for awhile last year myself. And so did EJ, and you see how important and influential he was."
(Disclosure: Alex Pietrangelo would never actually say that because he's a) a model NHL citizen, b) not going to buck leadership and c) a goddamn baller.) And also, per JR's Twitter, it was apparently Al MacInnis who decided Petro should focus on being better, not being an A. Otherwise, hot damn, we might have had another one!
Captaincy should be something guys work ridiculously hard to get to. They should stand up in the locker room and they should stand up for their teammates on the ice, and it's an honor that should be earned. I'm not saying the five guys who have letters haven't been good enough to merit wearing letters -- they have. But sometimes there's only so much room on a team, so a budding star has to get shipped back to the minors. Sometimes there aren't enough As to go around.
In this case, there are plenty of A's. The problem is, there shouldn't be.