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After going the entirety of the 2014-15 NHL season without a captain, the Sharks new head coach Peter DeBoer says he's going to name a captain for the upcoming season.
So: who's the best candidate to lead the Sharks this season?
The most obvious candidates, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, have both captained the Sharks before. Marleau passed the C to Rob Blake in 2009. When Blake retired the C went to Thornton, and Joe was stripped of the job unceremoniously after a disappointing first round exit in 2014. A new coach should mean a fresh start for the Sharks most accomplished players.
Marleau has been with the Sharks since he was drafted in 1997. He's consistently been one of the best players on the team (a not-up-to-his-standards 2014 notwithstanding). His age and experience make him one of DeBoer's best options.
Joe Thornton joined the Sharks later in his career, but has been a leader and the best player on the ice for the team regardless of the letter on his jersey. Thornton probably SHOULD be the captain of this team, and should never have had the job taken away from him. With a new head coach in place it's possible the job could return to its rightful owner, however as long as Doug "needs to shut his mouth" Wilson is still in charge I find that unlikely.
So what are the other options?
Joe Pavelski springs to mind first. Drafted by the Sharks in 2003, he's been with the organization for his entire career. Pavelski was rumoured to take the captaincy last offseason, but the Sharks opted instead to use multiple alternates (Pavs being one of them).
Going into his tenth season at age 31, he has the experience that many think is necessary for captaincy. He's been one of the best players on the team the last few seasons, and centered the first line of the US Olympic team in 2014. Also going for him is his distinct lack of personality - I'm sure Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews would agree. If DoBoer and Wilson are looking for a fresh start that still meets all the stereotypical requirements of an NHL captain, it's likely Joe Pavelski is their man.
Logan Couture, the garbage son of the franchise, has also been rumoured for the job. He represents the youth (as a 26-year-old man) on the team, the cohort that's going to be replacing Thornton and Marleau in the next few years. We've seen many captains in the NHL younger than Couture, including the aforementioned Toews and Crosby.
Of course, Logan is nowhere close to the talent level of many of these players, and his personality isn't the type that is typically considered captain material (at least he has one, though). Couture was not one of the alternate captains last year, which suggests that Sharks management also sees potential issues with making Couture an institutional leader on the team. With Thornton, Marleau, and Pavelski all available to captain the team it seems silly to even consider Classic Bro Logan Couture, but perhaps DeBoer will see things differently.
These four are the most obvious options - but a couple dark horse candidates exist. Tommy Wingels (a member of the advisory board for You Can Play) has quietly been one of the most valuable players to the Sharks over the last few seasons and could be considered for the job. Newcomer and veteran Paul Martin is another option - perhaps going with a brand new face isn't a terrible idea. And finally, flying under the radar in everything he does, Marc-Eduard Vlasic has been the best defenseman on the ice for the Sharks for years and should be rightfully considered for the captaincy.
Giving the C back to Joe Thornton is the best choice, but can DeBoer and the rest of Sharks management be trusted to make that choice? We'll find out in the next couple months.