Jun 10, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates with left wing Patrick Sharp (10) after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second period in game four of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Blackhawks Nation barely finished licking its emotional wounds from the unexpected trade of Brandon Saad when fans got another punch in the gut with the news that Patrick Sharp’s 10-year career as a Chicago Blackhawk was coming to an end after being dealt to the Dallas Stars.
Sure, everyone knew this was coming, but it still hurts. Maybe if the Blackhawks were able to hang onto to Saad, it wouldn’t sting as much, but that’s neither here nor there at this point. The real question now is, with Sharpie gone, who will wear the ‘A’?
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Patrick Sharp was named one of the Blackhawks’ alternate captains, along with Duncan Keith, in 2008. For those of you unaware of the responsibilities that come with this title, basically the alternate captain is another player representative that confers with the referees regarding all officiating matters if for whatever reason the captain isn’t on the ice.
This may seem like a token honor, but it comes with distinction. Wearing any letter on the front of your jersey is recognition of proven leadership, and personally, I think Sharp’s role in the cohesion of the Blackhawks has been essential as the perfect balance between the uber-serious Jonathan Toews and the wild (or at least wilder) child Patrick Kane, among other functions.
While the void Sharpie will leave on the stat sheet will be easily filled by the new crop of young up-and-coming Blackhawks players, filling the void of leadership Sharp will leave behind won’t be so easily remedied.
Now the obvious answer is Brent Seabrook, who has filled in as alternate captain when Sharp has been injured in the past. Seabrook would certainly be a fine choice, but for the sake of hypotheticals, let’s assume coach Joel Quenneville wants to keep the alternate in the offensive corps, which after all has been shuffled a lot more than the defense so far this offseason and could certainly use a little extra guidance.
Da Windy City
Needless to say most the seasoned forward on the Blackhawks is none other than Marian Hossa. However, as this is the 11th hour of Hoss’ career, the ‘A’ would be more honorary than anything, as Hossa probably only has a year or two left in his tank.
The other frontrunner would be Kane. Kaner has certainly shown a lot of growth and maturity as a player, so maybe he’s ready to assume more of a leadership role on the Blackhawks.
After those two candidates however, the offensive options become murkier for alternate captain selection. With the departures of Sharp and Saad, the Blackhawks’ offense is made up of players either young and unproven or historically part of lower shutdown lines; not your typical sources of leadership. It may be a bit early to make such a statement, but the best option might be Artem Anisimov, considering he just inked a long-term deal with the Hawks. That likely wouldn’t happen this season, but I feel it would become a much more serious conversation in a few years.
One thing is certain, however. The Blackhawks’ roster hasn’t been this shaken up since 2010. With such an influx of new player personnel, the Blackhawks will need leadership wherever they can find it to rally everyone under the same banner of a new Stanley Cup drive.
FOR THE DAGGER!
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