It appears the Ottawa Senators will go without a captain for a third consecutive season in 2020-21.
“It’s not going to happen this season,” head coach D.J. Smith told Postmedia on Thursday. “I can’t say not, but as of right now we’re not planning on it. We’re going to transition some of the younger guys into a leadership role.
“I think everyone knows (Thomas) Chabot and (Brady) Tkachuk are the guys pushing from the bottom. I don’t see that happening this year. I see more of a group mentality where you’re going to have to have people with leadership up front and leadership on the back end. Part of being a young team is maybe the coach has to be a leader maybe for one more year.”
Chabot and Tkachuk both spent time wearing the "A" late in the season after Mark Borowiecki was injured and Jean-Gabriel Pageau was traded to the New York Islanders. Borowiecki, Pageau and Ron Hainsey opened the season as alternate captains. Borowiecki, an unrestricted free agent this off-season, confirmed last week he plans to test the open market.
Chabot, 23, had six goals and 39 points in 71 games in his third full season with the Senators. Tkachuk, 21, posted 21 goals and 44 points in 71 games in his second season with the team.
“It’s real tall order for a young guy to be a captain in a rebuild situation,” Smith added. “You’re constantly being asked the questions and you may not have the answers, you haven’t been through it. It’s not fair for a 21-, 22-, 23-year-old kid to have to answer those questions. That’s why I think you see a lot of times these guys who are captains have been through it and have been through the experience.
“They’ve been through a rebuild, been through winning and losing, and they know what’s possibly coming next. It’s unfair to rush that on a guy and that’s where we’re at.”
The Senators have been without a captain since trading Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks ahead of the 2018-19 season.