The focus this summer for the Blackhawks has been revamping the roster – GM Kyle Davidson and his staff did a great job of piecing together a group where proven veteran talent will hope to mesh with young, high-upside stars. Older skaters like Nick Foligno and Corey Perry may have been acquired partially due to their talent, but it’s no secret that a large part of their purpose in Chicago this year stems from their leadership abilities.
Though it seems nearly every hole has been filled for the team, one major question still awaits the Blackhawks this year: Who will be the team’s captain? The position has been held by the legendary Jonathan Toews since 2008, making him the longest-tenured captain in Blackhawks history. Toews’ time in Chicago coming to an end marks the culmination of a championship era for the franchise as they look toward the future.
There’s been plenty of speculation about who will sport the “C” this year. Some have argued that rookie Connor Bedard deserves the honor, but the 18-year-old hasn’t played a single game. Others believe Connor Murphy should serve in the role on the basis that he’s the longest-tenured Blackhawk currently on the roster. Still others feel the captain spot should remain empty this year in order to honor Toews before Bedard takes it over next season.
A New Contender
28-year-old defenseman Seth Jones threw his hat in the ring Tuesday in an interview with Tracey Myers of NHL.com.
“I’ve always wanted to be a captain. I’ve learned from some great leaders – Shea Weber, Nick Foligno, Jonathan Toews – I mean, I played with some of the greatest captains that we’ve seen. It would be pretty special.”– Seth Jones
Jones went on to claim the result of the decision on captaincy wouldn’t alter his game:
“I understand where the organization is at. I’m focused on going and just playing my game and leading whether I have a C, an A or nothing on my jersey. I don’t think that should change.”– Seth Jones
More Harm Than Good?
Jones has become infamous lately for representing “the worst contract in the NHL,” as ranked by multiple sources. He was signed by Stan Bowman in summer of 2021 to an eight-year, $9.5 million AAV deal, and has since drastically underperformed, posting a -38 plus-minus last year. I theorized at the beginning of the summer that Jones’ contract could eventually pose a massive concern for a team that hopes to be in Stanley Cup contention.
A Calming Presence
Despite the fact that Jones is unappreciated by a few around Chicago simply due to his huge contract, he has the experience and talent necessary to help lead this team. He’ll likely be on the top line this fall. Additionally, he’s under contract for such a long time that he could bring a sense of stability to a young roster that will likely feel frantic at times. And as he said, he’s played alongside some of the best leaders in NHL history. Could he be the next man up?
At the end of the day, most Blackhawks fans are hoping that whoever is this year’s captain, if anyone, won’t be in the role long, as Bedard is undoubtedly coming for it before too long. In the meantime, though, would a veteran defenseman who has played alongside the best of the best be a good candidate? That’s up to the team.