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Many candidates in running for captaincy of Habs and Leafs

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Paul Hoogkamp, TSN.ca
9/29/2009 6:49:53 PM
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Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau and Bob Gainey.

George Armstrong, Dave Keon and Darryl Sittler.

These are just some of the names that have been honoured to captain one of the two of the most storied franchises in the NHL. But which names will be added to that list for this season?

With the Canadiens and Maple Leafs set to begin the regular season on Thursday, both teams have yet to name a captain. So who would be the leading candidates to take on this all-encompassing responsibility?

The Canadiens underwent a roster overhaul in the off-season so the dressing room is chock full of new faces. Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri all signed as free agents in the summer and are expected to lead the way offensively.

Gomez would appear to have a good pedigree to assume the role. The 9-year veteran began his career with the New Jersey Devils and won a Stanley Cup in his rookie campaign, a season in which he also captured the Calder Trophy. With captains Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer from which to learn, Gomez has a lot of experience which translates into credibility among his peers.

Spending two years with the New York Rangers would provide a good lesson for anyone on how to deal with the media, a trait that is a 'must have' in Montreal. And to enable him to converse better with the media, the Alaska native has enrolled in French lessons.

Gionta also grew up in the Devils' system and has a Stanley cup ring to show for his efforts. Unlike Gomez, Gionta didn't burst onto the scene and make an instant impact. Instead, he bounced between the Devils and their AHL affiliate in Albany for three seasons before exploding for 48 goals in the first season after the lock-out. No one could question his work ethic or passion for the game.

Among the holdovers from last season, defenceman Andrei Markov is widely regarded as one of the best blueliners in the game today. Earlier this month, the Montreal Gazette reported that Markov had turned down a request by the coaching staff to become captain. The smooth-skating Russian denied the report but did say the position is a big responsibility and admitted his reluctance to face the cameras on a daily basis. 

Josh Gorges and Maxim Lapierre also warrant some consideration for the role of captain in Montreal.

In Toronto, one would think the Leafs are looking for someone to fill the gap while stalwart defenceman Luke Schenn grows into the role of captain.

Former Canadiens' blueliner Mike Komisarek, former Ducks' defenceman Francois Beauchemin, along with Leaf veterans Tomas Kaberle and Matt Stajan could all wear a letter of some variety this season.

Komisarek would have been a strong candidate to take the lead in Montreal had he stayed, which makes him a strong candidate for the Leafs' post. His no-nonsense, stay-at-home style fits into the Brian Burke-Ron Wilson blueprint so he would have the backing of the braintrust.

Beauchemin is another player who possesses all the truculence, belligerence and pugnacity that will likely define the Leafs this season. Playing with the likes of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger in recent years and winning a Stanley Cup in Anaheim should command a great deal of respect in the dressing room.

Since the departure of former captain Mats Sundin, Kaberle has been looked upon as the team's best player. His talents are unquestioned but his soft-spoken nature may not lend itself well to dealing with the rabid Toronto media every day.

Stajan will be entering his eighth season with the Maple Leafs and as the team's NHLPA player representative, he has never shied away from the cameras, even when the news is not good. His relationship with the media is healthy and his work ethic is admired by his teammates.

Jason Blake is another hard-working candidate who is not afraid to speak his mind when the opportunity presents itself.

So who do you think should be the next captains of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs? Or should the teams rotate the captaincy throughout the season? Offer your thoughts in the Your Call feature below.

Gomez, Markov, Komisarek, Kaberle (Photo: Getty Images)

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(Photo: Getty Images)
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