When considering the Blackhawks continuously aging core, a considerable amount of depressing thoughts come to mind. People may question whether or not they’ll be the same player again, if (or when) they’ll be traded, and countless other less-than-happy ideas. However, one that isn’t as unfortunate is who will take over the Alternate Captain role once Brent Seabrook ages out.
As I pointed out in the first edition of this series, Jonathan Toews looks to be a Chicago Blackhawk for life. Now that he’s reached his tenth year of captaincy, it’s nearly a lock that he’ll be the guy wearing the “C” on his chest until he decides to hang em’ up.
While that appears to be a as safe a bet as they come, what isn’t is who is most likely to earn a spot as the next alternate captain once Seabrook’s (and eventually Duncan Keith’s) time in Chicago is over.
The first of these candidates is Alex DeBrincat. When Seabs’ time is up, DeBrincat will be playing a similar role as Patrick Sharp did when he took over as an alternate captain back in 2008. Their situations are similar enough already, and it doesn’t hurt that Sharp was a very strong role model to DeBrincat last season.
Alex DeBrincat is just one of a few possibilities, so let’s explore another players from last seasons’ Chicago Blackhawks roster who has a chance of earning an “A” on their sweater down the road.
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Back in April, Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times did an interesting story on young Chicago Blackhawks needing to take steps forward to bridge the cap between the “young” and “old” guys.
Alex DeBrincat knows it’s true, and he lead the team in goals last season.
Jonathan Toews knows it’s true, and he’s the team captain in charge of taking on leadership responsibilities. That being said, he doesn’t think hoarding that for himself is the most effective idea, either.
“A big part of that is helping some of these young guys understand their own leadership capabilities and knowing that aside from your talent and offensive abilities, there’s so many things that guys can bring on and off the ice that’s going to make our team better. We’re going to be better for it.”
The captain of the Chicago Blackhawks thinks some of these “young” guys should step up and claim more responsibilities. Claiming responsibility can be tough when the guys who currently share the leadership have been around for three different Stanley Cup winning seasons. Not only that, but they’ve experienced the lowest of the lows in Blackhawks seasons.
That doesn’t phase Toews, who sees taking over leadership as a way to bridge the gap. Unsurprisingly, he isn’t alone in that thought process.
Da Windy City
“Those older guys you look up to so much,” said Nick Schmaltz. “You don’t want to — I don’t want to say steal their show — but you respect those guys so much that they’ve done such a good job of leading and taking care of the young guys. But at a certain point, the younger guys coming up need to take a step in the leadership role. Whether it’s by leading with your play or saying a few things on the bench or in the locker room. As a young group, we can definitely step up and add some leadership.”
Nick’s quote sounds eerily similar to the message the captain is trying to relay. It isn’t a bad sign when a relatively inexperienced 22 year-old is pushing the same ideas as your 30 year-old captain.
Could Schmaltz be the next alternate captain?
I don’t know. But, he’s mature beyond his years. Not only does he share a viewpoint that the (supposedly) wisest person on the team has, but he’s also critical of himself and has the ability to admit (and fix) flaws in his game.
For example, Schmaltz is a playmaker at heart. Oftentimes early in his career he’d pass out of A+ scoring chances to try and find a teammate. Ultimately, it’d end in a forced pass and a turnover.
On the topic, Schmaltz said “Personally, I’d rather set up a guy and have him score a goal than score a goal myself. I like making good plays. But you’ve got to find that balance. You’ve got to be a threat with the shot, too.”
He attacks his game in the same way Toews does. If you recall, Jonathan has spent multiple off-seasons trying to reshape his body to be as effective as possible. It’s the same idea with Nick’s approach to his game.
It certainty doesn’t hurt that with Schmaltz’s skill-set he looks poised to be the Blackhawks’ next number one center. Additionally, the idea that if the Blackhawks go through with this (hopefully) brief rebuild, Schmaltz will have been around since the start.
DeBrincat and Schamltz are part of this “core” of the future, so it wouldn’t be unsurprising to see either of them awarded a leadership role down the road. That’s especially true given how often Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman has praised the duo and declared them a clear part of the future.
Stay tuned for the other, possibly most likely, candidate to take over the A from last years roster.