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NHL captains who were stripped of the “C”

Christian Marin (@xianmarin) Aug. 22, 2014 1:26 PM
Joe Thornton bardown Photo: Bardown
San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan recently announced that the Sharks will be starting training camp this year without a captain. Joe Thornton has served as the Sharks' captain for the past four seasons, but now the entire roster will have a say on who the next captain is. Just because he might not be the captain next season, doesn't mean the team has any intention of moving him. We take a look back in history at some other players who were stripped of their captaincy but remained with the team.

Rick Vaive, Toronto Maple Leafs (1985-86)

[Credit: Toronto Maple Leafs]

Rick Vaive served as the Toronto Maple Leafs captain from 1982-86, but he had his "C" stripped during the 1985-86 season for missing a morning practice. He played one more season with the Leafs before being dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Joe Sakic, Quebec Nordiques (1991-92)

[Credit: TSN]

At the start of the 1990-91 season, Sakic was named co-captain of the Nordiques, along with Steven Finn. The following season he was replaced by Mike Hough, but was renamed captain before the 1992-93 season.

Brett Hull, St. Louis Blues (1995-96)

[Credit: Hall of Fame Memorabilia]

Brett Hull served as the captain of the St. Louis Blues from 1992-95, but was replaced by Shayne Corson, who signed with St. Louis prior to the 1995-96 season.

Shayne Corson, St. Louis Blues (1996)

[Credit: Upper Deck]

Shayne Corson replaced Brett Hull as the captain of the Blues, but his time as captain – and with the Blues – didn't last very long. The team acquired Wayne Gretzky during the 1996 season and he was immediately named the captain for the remainder of the season.

Trevor Linden, Vancouver Canucks (1997-98)

[Credit: Vancouver Canucks]

Trevor Linden was a fan favourite in Vancouver and served as the leader from 1991-97. The Canucks signed Mark Messier prior to the 1997-98 season and not only did Linden lose his captaincy to Messier, the Canucks traded Linden to the New York Islanders for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe and a third-round draft pick that same season.

Theoren Fleury, Calgary Flames (1997-98)

[Credit: Flames Nation]

Originally named interim captain of the Flames in 1995 because Joe Nieuwendyk refused to report to the team, his title was made permanent after Nieuwendyk was dealt to the Stars for Jarome Iginla and Corey Millen. He served as captain for two seasons before being replaced by Todd Simpson.

Kevin Dineen, Carolina Hurricanes (1998-99)

[Credit: Sports Ecyclopedia]

Kevin Dineen was the last captain of the Hartford Whalers and the first captain of the Carolina Hurricanes. He served as Carolina's captain for only one season, before he was replaced by Keith Primeau in 1998.

Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning (2000-01)

[Credit: Chris O'Meara/AP]

Selected first overall by the Lightning in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Lecavalier, at the time, became the youngest captain in NHL history following his sophomore season. It didn't last very long, as Lightning management decided he was too young to be a captain heading into the 2001-02 season. He was renamed team captain on September 18, 2008, and served as the team's leader until he was bought out following the 2012-13 season.

Eric Lindros, Philadelphia Flyers (1999-00)

[Credit: NHL Snipers]

After suffering his second concussion of the year during a game in March of the 1999-00 season, Lindros criticized the team's medical staff for not properly diagnosing him with symptoms a few weeks before when he was hit. Bobby Clarke heard enough and stripped the "C" from Lindros, who sat out the rest of the year before returning for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. It was his final season in a Flyers uniform.

Eric Desjardins, Philadelphia Flyers (2001-02)

[Credit: Philadelphia Flyers]

After Eric Lindros came Eric Desjardins. Bobby Clarke wasn't going to rename a captain during the season, but Mark Recchi, John LeClair and Desjardins (all were alternate captains at the time) thought it was important to have a leader in the locker room and voted on Desjardins to be that guy. He resigned from the role early on in 2001-02 season and was replaced by Keith Primeau.

Craig Conroy, Calgary Flames (2003-04)

[Credit: Calgary Flames]

Late into the 2001-02 season, Craig Conroy and tough guy Bob Boughner were named co-captains of the Flames. He resumed his role the following season. Heading into the 2003-04 campaign, Conroy, like a true captain, did what was best for the organization and decided that it was time for Jarome Iginla to take over as the team's leader.

Derian Hatcher, Philadelphia Flyers (2006-07)

[Credit: Philadelphia Flyers]

After Keith Primeau suffered a career-ending injury during the 2005-06 season, Derian Hatcher was named his replacement for the remainder of the season. That was the only time he spent as Philadelphia's captain because Peter Forsberg was given the "C" the following season when Primeau officially announced his retirement.

Mike Modano, Dallas Stars (2006-07)

[Credit: Fan Pop]

Nearing the end of his career, Modano handed the "C" over to Brenden Morrow to give him some time to try to help lead the team in the new direction they were headed. Modano remained an alternate captain with the Stars for four more seasons, before finishing off his career with the Red Wings.

Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils (2007-08)

[Credit: New Jersey Devils]

Patrik Elias became the first European born captain in franchise history in 2006. The following season, new coach Brent Sutter had different plans and stripped Elias of the "C" and gave it to Jamie Langenbrunner instead.

Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks (2007-08)

[Credit: Anaheim Ducks]

While Scott Niedermayer was trying to decide whether or not he should retire following his fourth championship, the Ducks didn't have any time to waste. He was suspended by the team after failing to report to training camp. He returned to the lineup in December, but it was too late, as the Ducks handed the "C" over to Chris Pronger.

Chris Pronger, Anaheim Ducks (2008-09)

[Credit: Canada.com]

Niedermayer contemplated retirement once again heading into the 2008-09 season, but he made a decision much quicker this time around. He decided to return for another year and the Ducks gave him back the "C". Pronger returned to his role as alternate captain.

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks (2009-10)

[Credit: Canada.com]

When Markus Naslund signed with the New York Rangers prior to the 2008-09 season, the Canucks were in need of a new leader. General manager Mike Gillis and head coach Alain Vigneault decided on Luongo as the team's 12th captain in franchise history. He became the seventh goalie in NHL history to be named captain and the first since 1948. He was replaced by Henrik Sedin prior to the 2010 season after stating he was stepping down.

Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks (2009-10)

[Credit: San Jose Sharks]

After four consecutive years of failing to make it past the second round of the playoffs, the Sharks decided they needed a change of leadership. Patrick Marleau was stripped of the "C" after the Sharks were eliminated by the Ducks in the first round, after finishing the season with a franchise-record 53 wins and a league-high 117 points. He was replaced by Rob Blake for the 2009-10 season.

Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche (2012-2013)

[Credit: Denver Post]

Milan Hejduk served as the Avalanche's captain for the 2011-2012 season before he was replaced by Gabriel Landeskog, who surpassed Sidney Crosby as the youngest permanent captain in NHL history at 19 years, 286 days. The move was all about looking ahead for Colorado, as the 2012-13 campaign was Hejduk's last.

Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks (2014-15)

[Credit: NHL]

Joe Thornton has served as the captain of the Sharks since the 2010-11 season. Year after year they've dominated the regular season, but have struggled come playoff time. After blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Kings in last season's playoffs, they finally had enough. Head coach Todd McLellan and the rest of the management team have decided to let the players decide on the franchise's next captain. There's still a chance that Thornton might return as the captain this upcoming season, but we will have to wait and see.

Honourable mentions

Darryl Sittler, Toronto Maple Leafs (1979)

[Credit: Hockey Hall of Fame]

Darryl Sittler and Leafs management didn't always see eye to eye on everything. Alan Eagleson told general manager Punch Imlach that it would cost the team $500,000 to get Sittler to waive his no-trade clause. Instead, Imlach traded one of Sitter's closest friends and one of the team's top players, Lanny McDonald, to the Colorado Rockies. As a protest, Sittler ripped the "C" off his sweater, saying that the captain had to be the go-between with players and management, and he felt that he no longer had any communication with the guys upstairs. The following season, Sittler returned to the Leafs and the "C" was back on his sweater, despite Harold Ballard comparing his previous actions to burning the Canadian flag.

Charlie Conway, D3 (1996)

Charlie and his teammates were awarded scholarships in D3 to Eden Hall Academy, a high ranking prep school, so things changed for all of them. Having to join the varsity team, Conway lost his role as team captain, but earned it back during a timeout in the final game when coach Orion told him to go for the win if the opportunity presented itself. Sure enough, they won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Greg Goldberg that was set up by Conway.