One of the big changes the Flyers made when shipping Mike Richards to Los Angeles besides losing one of their marquee players was that they also lost their captain who served the past two years. The announcement of the new Flyers captain for the 2011-2012 season is surely months away with training camp not even underway yet, but it is fun to speculate who might be filling Mike Richards role as the official team leader. There are plenty of good veteran choices such as Pronger, Timonen, and Briere that have had experience honing the ‘C’ on previous teams. The question is; who does Laviolette and Holmgren think best fits this team? Will he go with one of these three guys, or maybe go for a younger guy? With all the new faces on this years’ team, it is difficult to tell.
Pronger and Timonen are aging blue liners entering this season recovering from injuries sustained during the past season. Pronger had back surgery to remedy his ailment, and recovery from a procedure like that is never easy. Either of them could make the case to be the team’s captain with their leadership qualities on and off the ice. Both guys have been team leaders during their tenures here and have been active in the locker room and on the ice (supposedly, from what fans can gather). Danny Briere is finding his spot on the team after catching fire during the 2010 playoff run and carrying it into last season and always has the right things to say to the media while being a veteran leader. While any of these guys would make a good selection, there is really only one guy I see wearing the ‘C’ this season.
If Chris Pronger is healthy enough to start the season, he will be the Philadelphia Flyers’ captain. Pronger is a true veteran leader who has won a Cup and has no problem calling players out for not carrying their share of the load. He is aggressive, witty, and loves playing games with reporters during interviews. Above all, he clashed with Richards’ reclusive and laid back approach to captaincy. If the front office is serious about culture change, then they will put Pronger at the helm to do things his way this time around without stepping on Richards’ toes. We’re stuck with him for another five years, and I think Pronger is the answer at this juncture. Timonen and Briere might turn out to be chosen if I’m wrong or Pronger cannot start the season, but no one knows at this point.
In a perfect world, I see Pronger as captain with Timonen/Briere/Giroux splitting time as assistant captains. Pronger will remain captain until he retires, and then the torch passes to Claude Giroux or James van Riemsdyk. I say Giroux because if you take away the three candidates I previously mentioned, then what returning Flyer do you give it to? I’d like to think Giroux is the best option at that point. I don’t see any of the new Flyers becoming captain this year. Betts, Shelley, Coburn, Hartnell, and Meszaros are all good players and great in the team’s locker room, but I don’t see captain material in those guys. Lappy would be a good fit if he was fit to play… but for now it is a waiting game. I will be very surprised if Chris Pronger is on the active roster this fall and is not named the next captain of the Philadelphia Flyers