With the departure of Barret Jackman and T.J. Oshie this off-season, the Blues will need to name two new alternate captains for opening night. The new letter on someone's jersey, as seen with Oshie, is oftentimes symbolic of growth or achievement as a player or teammate; when Oshie was awarded the A, many fans took it as confirmation that he had reached maturity and this was his reward.
This year, there aren't any players on the Blues whose maturity we've questioned, or who we've needed to "grow up" as the capstone to a fan favorite, feel-good story. The new alternate captains will be guys that many have already suspected have a voice in the locker room.
Paul Stastny may be one of those guys. Said Stastny to NHL.com:
"The first year with a new team, you kind of fly under the radar and be quiet," Stastny told The Denver Post on Tuesday. "But as you get older, you have to speak up. You want to win. If you see something go wrong, you're not going to sit there and not say anything.
"[Leadership], it's another attribute and ability that you're good at, and feel like you're not being used for it and kind of hindering yourself and not being involved as much as you should be. But at same time, when you come to a new team, especially a team that's good and has been built from the bottom, they already have their leaders."
Stastny will be expected to take on a bigger role on the ice, if Ken Hitchcock can move him up from the third line center role to the top six, where many (and probably those who acquired him) expect him to pay and excel. While with the Avalanche, he was in a leadership position, possibly partially by virtue as his status as one of the franchise's star players. Stastny should be one to lead by example; as fans, that's as much as we have to go on since we don't have any insight into the locker room dynamics of a team.
One of the openings will more than likely go to a defenseman to replace Barret Jackman's loss. The only candidate there, at least when you take skill and tenure into consideration, is Kevin Shattenkirk. Stastny may have competition for his forward "A" from Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko's massive contract is a vote of confidence in the Blues' star player, and his selfless attitude, desire to constantly improve and learn, and desire to bring the Stanley Cup to St. Louis (which was his immediate comment after signing his deal) are all signs of a developing leader. Of course, as fans, all we have to go off of is what we see.
So who will it be? Stastny or Tarasenko?