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No Flyers Captain? No Big Deal?

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Canada's Scott Laughton in finals of World Championships vs. Germany
Canada's Scott Laughton in finals of World Championships vs. Germany (Photo courtesy of IIHF)

The Philadelphia Flyers were without a captain last season and still don’t have one. Last season, coach John Tortorella said he would not name a captain this season.

Big deal? Little deal?

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere had a surprising comment about the team’s lack of a captain, or a leadership group, at a recent news conference.

Hockey lore has bestowed a legendary status on a captain. He’s the leader — on and off the ice. He carries the team in low times. Is the voice in the locker room. Is the voice of reason when dealing with the coach and management.

“As a player, for me the captaincy is really for the outside,” Briere said at a recent news conference. “It’s for the fans, it’s for the media more than anything. 

“The players know who the leaders are, who the captain is in the locker room. It’s not something I’m too worried about.

“I went through the same thing in Buffalo in my early years. We didn’t have a captain. We had a rotating captain every month and it worked out fine.

“We turned out to be a pretty good team two years later after Lindy Ruff started that. I’m not too worried about it.”

Eight NHL teams went without captains this past season.

Flyers Candidates

Philadelphia has legitimate captain candidates in Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Cam Atkinson. Each has a leadership presence on the ice. They are highly respected by teammates. Couturier and Atkinson missed last season with injuries. Laughton was an alternate captain last season.

Laughton was among several Canadian players singled out at the World Championships by Adam Fantilli — the third overall pick in this year’s draft — for his leadership skills. Laughton took the 18-year-old under his wing, as Fantilli put it, and helped him “fit in a locker room [with older professionals] and navigate situations away from the rink.” Laughton also was an alternate captain for Team Canada.

With the Flyers transitioning to a younger roster, how Laughton mentored Fantilli sounds like what the Flyers could need.

Some of the Flyers’ most iconic players have been captains — Hockey Hall of Famers Bobby Clarke (twice), Bill Barber and Eric Lindros. Also, short-term Flyers and Hall of Famers Chris Pronger and Peter Forsberg were captains.

Other Flyers Captains:

  • Eric Desjardins
  • Claude Giroux
  • Dave Poulin
  • Rick Tocchet
  • Keith Primeau
  • Ron Sutter
  • Derian Hatcher
  • Mike Richards
  • Ed Van Impe
  • Lou Angotti
  • Mel Bridgman
  • Kevin Dineen
  • Jason Smith

You likely know many of these players. As the roster is finalized in the fall — presumably with several new young players who make the squad — Tortorella might feel it is necessary to name a captain.

‘Ask For A Little Push’

Briere was asked about how last season was more for evaluating players rather than wins and losses and if that is next season’s standard.

“There will be a little bit of that,” Briere said.

“But at the same time, we are and he [Tortorella] is going to ask probably a little bit more of his team. He’s going to ask for a little push.

“He’s going to expect to see some of the players take the next step. He’s probably going to expect some of the guys to show a little bit more leadership.

“Him coming in last year, and he said it himself, he had a lot to figure out in the room, why this room wasn’t clicking. It wasn’t that we had bad teammates. It’s just there was no synergy in the room.

“He worked hard at that last year. That’s going to continue. I know he’s going to expect a little bit more from some of the veteran players.”

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Flyers, In Case You Missed It:

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Tough turn of events for dad of Flyers’ draft pick.

Carchidi column: Flyers are moving in right direction. Honest.

Flyers completely embarrassed by social media incident that criticized a reporter.

New Flyers winger Garnet Hathaway gets the scoop on coach John Tortorella.

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