Flyers’ Next Captain? Coots, Atkinson, Laughton top candidates
The Philadelphia Flyers won’t name a captain for a while, new coach John Tortorella said the other day.
Tortorella, who will make the decision in conjunction with general manager Chuck Fletcher, said he needs to get to know the players and see them on the ice — in practices and preseason games — before he has a feel for whom should wear the “C.”
The captain won’t be named until after training camp.
Claude Giroux was the Flyers’ captain for 10 seasons before being traded to Florida in March. The Flyers went without a captain the rest of the season.
So who are the top candidates to replace Giroux? Here you go:
1. Sean Couturier
Years with Flyers: 11.
Years left on his contract: 8.
Qualifications: The hard-working center is the Philadelphia Flyers’ best all-around player and a three-time team MVP. No one on the Flyers gives a more consistent, all-around effort at both ends of the ice. Another plus: Couturier doesn’t sugar-coat things with the media when analyzing what went wrong.
Skinny: Couturier, who was limited to 29 games last season by a back injury is the favorite, but not a slam-dunk.
'Teacher' John Tortorella Getting Ingrained with @NHLFlyers, Snider Hockey, City in Whirlwind Week https://t.co/dI9yTwQ1CP
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) June 23, 2022
2. Cam Atkinson
Years with Flyers: 1.
Years left on his contract: 3.
Qualifications: Atkinson was the Flyers’ MVP last season. A two-time All-Star, he is an outspoken leader who, like Couturier, isn’t shy about being critical to send a message to the team. After last season, for instance, he said the Flyers were too soft and needed to be tougher to play against.
Skinny: Tortorella, who coached Atkinson in Columbus, will lean on the right winger because of their familiarity. That and Atkinson’s outgoing personality make him a strong candidate..
3. Scott Laughton
Years with Flyers: 9.
Years left on contract: 4.
Qualifications: He plays every shift like his pants are on fire, always giving an all-out effort. The center/left winger has also matured over the years and has become a voice of reason in the lockerroom. Though he doesn’t have as much talent as Couturier or Atkinson, he plays with more of an edge than the other two.
Skinny: Laughton will likely wear an “A'” as an alternate, but there’s little doubt he would be a solid captain if he gets the call.
4. Kevin Hayes
Years with Flyers: 3.
Years left on his contract: 4.
Qualifications: He is the definition of resiliency. He finished strong last season after having three surgeries in an eight-month span and dealing with his brother’s sudden death. Hayes took on a bigger leadership role after Giroux was traded — he was more outspoken — and finished with 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) over his last 28 games. He was the Flyers’ leading scorer in that span.
Skinny: Hayes is a darkhorse candidate, but Tortorella acknowledged he is one of the Flyers’ most important players.