It was only a matter of time before someone brought it up in a more prominent media outlet. The NHL Network talked about the Chicago Blackhawks captaincy vacancy and floated something others have wondered. But they asked another interesting question on top of it:
The @NHLBlackhawks are looking for a new captain following the departure of Jonathan Toews.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 27, 2023
This argument isn’t so much about whether it should be Bedard or not. There’s zero chance he’s going to have the “C” sewn on this season. The pressure on him is already enough–leadership should be the least of those worries in the season. Not even Sidney Crosby started with the C.
But it still brings up an interesting point. It wasn’t until the 2008-09 season that a single captain was in play for Chicago. It’s the argument we’ll go with as the Blackhawks enter a season without a full time captain since Jonathan Toews wore it in his second full season.
As intriguing as it is, this is a full out “Nay” as it seems far more productive to let things play out as they should naturally.
2006-07 Puts Things Into Perspective
Prior to Toews skating in Chicago, the C was shared by veterans Adrian Aucoin and Martin Lapointe. Looking up and down the roster for those two seasons, there weren’t a lot of options with younger players. Both Aucoin and Lapointe were veterans–Aucoin known for his years with Vancouver and Lapointe with Detroit. Both were acquired in free agency and both were given the C to help along a young team that included Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Patrick Sharp. The latter three would be major pieces of the Stanley Cup winning teams in the next decade.
Aucoin would be injured often during his Blackhawks tenure and was dealt to Calgary during the 2006-07 season. Lapointe would be traded in 2008. But by the time Lapointe was traded, it was evident a new core was forming and that Toews was clearly the next choice to lead the up and coming Blackhawks.
This method worked well as Chicago would go on to win the Stanley Cup three times in six seasons. They didn’t rush into a decision and let thing naturally unfold.
It’s a similar strategy they should employ here as the wait to name a “C” may be shorter this time around and instead, go with three alternates in the upcoming season.
Veterans Were Signed For a Reason
Bruce Boudreau went right to this point while the panel.
“You’ve gotta wait,” Boudreau said. “There’s a lot of veterans, from Corey Perry to Taylor Hall on that team to give it to an 18-year-old. You’ve got to let him learn the steps of the NHL.”
Bedard seems to be the logical, slam dunk, all but guaranteed captain of the future. A recent feature by Blackhawks digital media coordinator Kara Keating highlighted his work ethic alone, a “lead by example” mentality that will surely be pointed to as one of many reasons.
But as Boudreau pointed out, it’s only a matter of time. If they waited for Toews, they’ll certainly employ the same strategy with Bedard.
Beyond that, history shows that even the generational players in Connor McDavid and Crosby waited their turns. So is their value in having a short-term captain in Perry, Hall, or Nick Foligno? What about Seth Jones or Connor Murphy?
It’s all intriguing but ultimately, it has to fit the timeline. Perry, Hall, and Foligno could likely be one-year guys. Jones will be in Chicago for some time with his long term deal. Murphy
But instead of naming a captain like they did in 06-07 (initially Aucoin before Lapointe wore it while the former was injured), it’s best to just go the triple alternate route and allow things to naturally take their likely course. Bedard seems the logical solution here, but obviously not yet.
It’s best to do what the Blackhawks front office has been showing since it took over–patience and time. Let the vets do their job–and then sew the C on when it’s more clear.