The Chicago Blackhawks are keeping their unofficial captain around for two more seasons.
The Hawks announced they signed Nick Foligno to a two-year contract extension worth $9 million. He will have a $4.5 million salary cap hit for the next two seasons.
The 36-year-old Foligno could have left the team in the offseason to chase a Stanley Cup. Instead, he will return to the Hawks to be the adult in the room while the younger players mature.
Foligno may not wear the "C" on his sweater, but he is the team's main leader. Connor Murphy and Seth Jones are the team's other alternate captains along with Foligno, but it is Nick who sets the tone.
His leadership is a big reason general manager Kyle Davidson wanted to extend the veteran the first moment he could.
It is a good thing Davidson is bringing Foligno back for these three reasons...
Connor Bedard does not have to be rushed into an official leadership role.
The assumption is the franchise wants Bedard to be the next official captain. Being the official captain is a tall order for anyone to take on within the Blackhawks especially since it means following the greatest captain in franchise history, Jonathan Toews.
A lot is already being asked of Bedard when he is on the ice. Granted he is on injured reserve right now with a fractured jaw, but when Bedard is playing, he is expected to carry the offense. He is also being asked to be the face of the franchise and one of the faces of the NHL. That is a lot to put on an18-year-old.
Granted Bedard is a phenom but throwing the "C" on his sweater while he is still a teenager would be just one more thing to add to his plate when he is still learning what he can and cannot get away with in the NHL. Toews was young when he got the captaincy, but he had Patrick Kane to help spread out the high expectations of play. Bedard is on his own right now.
Foligno sticking around for two more seasons means Bedard gets a couple more years to have a leadership apprentice with Nick. If the Hawks choose to give Bedard the official captain role during the next two seasons, he will have a solid veteran leader in Foligno to back him up.