Today, Kyle Davidson confirmed what many of us already expected and accepted: Jonathan Toews' last game as a Blackhawk is tonight. The 3rd overall selection in the 2006 draft, Toews was named captain of our Blackhawks at just 20 years old in the summer of 2008. That' nearly 15 years as captain which is one of the longest runs in NHL history (Yzerman - 19 years, Sakic - 17 years, Bourque - 15 years).
As we look towards the future now it is important to realize that while we already have a very good prospect core... it's about to get a whole lot better. The Hawks have acquired multiple 1st round picks over the next few seasons and just came off of a draft in which we selected 3 players in the 1st.
Most likely though, our next captain is about to walk across a stage in Nashville in 76 days. From my point of view this is hands down the most likely scenario for whom will wear the C next for Chicago. There are a few reasons that all point to this happening for me:
1. It will be widely expected that the team will not have a captain next season to both give time away from Toews' tenure ending, but also because this roster does not have a transcendent leader that can catapult this roster into contention.
2. While Connor Murphy, Seth Jones, or perhaps Max Domi are good leaders, their place is best suited as complimentary voices in a winning environment in which we currently don't have.
3. While we have good young talents that could be Blackhawks soon, drafting in the top 5 with these high end players will present a situation where that player is clearly our best player very quickly even amongst what we already have.
If drafting in the top 2, Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli will become our captain as quickly as year 2 of their careers. I do not think that is up for debate. If we draft Zach Benson, Leo Carlsson, or Will Smith (the likely 3 for those spots) then I believe their play on the ice as rookies and sophmore talents will identify them as the leaders of the team.
Carlsson and Smith are going to be centers (in my opinion) and will be given every opportunity quickly to earn that 1C spot from Luke Richardson. Zach Benson would likely be our leading point getter from the RW position and is an elite competitor. I think that while we have Lukas Reichel, Kevin Korchinski, Frank Nazar, Ryan Greene, and alot of talent that ultimately this first selection in the 2023 draft will have a talent edge on those already drafted.
It's a sad AND happy day for me (and most fans) on hearing (and seeing written) the decision on Toews. He was captain of a team that won 3 Stanley Cups for the team we love so much. Because of him I got to see Jeremy Roenick cry on TV when they won in 2010 and that is a memory that has so much history and nuance behind it for me. It's little details like that one that I will recall when I reminisce about this Blackhawk dynasty we all watched.
Thank you Captain Serious! I hope the United Center is filled with #19s tonight and we can all enjoy a thrilling send-off. It is also very exciting to come to the conclusion that we now have new names to read about, jersey names and numbers to memorize, and (hopefully) a new great captain to cheer on. Whom will it be? June 28th in Nashville we'll find out.