With the Montreal Canadiens saying goodbye to Saku Koivu this summer, there are questions aplenty on to how the club will fill their leadership void.
Koivu, the second-longest serving captain in team history behind only the legendary Jean Beliveau, was told two weeks ago by general manager Bob Gainey that the club would be going in a new direction.
Also, last season's alternate captains - Alex Kovalev, Christopher Higgins and Mike Komisarek - have not been retained by the Habs, meaning that for the first time in a decade, there is a legitimate debate as to who should receive the honour of being the captain for le bleu, blanc et rouge.
If the season were to start today, there seems to be no clear cut favourite. But here are some interesting options.
Scott Gomez – While he is one of the newest members of the club, Gomez does have something that only a handful of current Canadiens have, a Stanley Cup ring (two, in fact). He's also the highest paid player and should be the among the club's top scorers. The Alaskan has also worn the 'A' in the past, most recently with his former club the New York Rangers.
Maxim Lapierre – The 24-year old is a third-line energy player that enjoys being a shift disturber. While he won't ever challenge for the scoring lead on the team, he did chip in with 15 goals and 13 assists in 79 games last season. He also had the third best plus-minus on the Habs in 2008-09 with plus nine.
Andrei Markov – The 30-year old was an alternate captain last season and his 64 points were the second highest on the team last season. History does not appear to be on his side, though. Aside from the 1989-1990 season (when Guy Carbonneau and Chris Chelios shared the 'C'), the Habs have not had a defenceman as the captain since Serge Savard held the post from 1979 to 1981. Markov is also one of the quieter players on the roster, letting his play on the ice do most of the talking.
Another player – Josh Gorges? How about one of the Kostitsyn brothers? Guillaume Latendresse? Because the Canadiens' roster hasn't been filled, it's hard to say. But maybe Gainey and new head coach Jacques Martin could see something in someone on the roster and will surprise with a selection.
Rotate it - As mentioned earlier, the Canadiens rotated the captaincy back in 1989-90 when players voted on it and the dressing room was split between Chelios and Carbonneau. The two players alternated months that they wore a 'C' and an 'A' on their sweaters. This unconventional strategy could help ease a younger player or newer player into the captaincy for the long term, by in essence dividing up the workload and responsibilities. It's also been done recently with the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres.
No Captain – This is something that the Canadiens have never done in their history, which makes it unlikely. But it might not be a bad option. The Toronto Maple Leafs employed the strategy last season, with three alternates and no captain. The Pittsburgh Penguins also did it for a season after Mario Lemieux retired in 2006. Going in this direction (even if it doesn't add to the pomp and circumstance of the captaincy of hockey's most storied franchise) could show that if no one is ready, the Canadiens have enough respect for the tradition and significance of the 'C' to not hand it out for the sake of handing it out.
Who should be the next captain of the Canadiens? Should there even be one next season. Let the hockey world know on Your Call!