Christopher Szagola-US PRESSWIRE

The Next Captain

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

The Philadelphia Flyers organization to this point has had a total of 18 men serve as Team Captain. Bobby Clarke is the only one of them to lead the team to the promised land. As the summer wears on and we get closer to training camp we all will have a better understanding of the actual possibility of Pronger returning. As of right now it looks bleak. Homer said in an interview recently that although he’s hopeful he will return to the team his status has not changed and he is still experiencing severe post concussion symptoms. In my opinion even if the symptoms were to be alleviated the chances he comes back are slim. This has got to be the most painful and dark period of his life. There is no way that if I am him that I put myself out in the line of fire again especially if my symptoms have finally started diminishing. Not too mention Prongs didn’t play a European type style of hockey. He hit. And he hit hard. He’s a future Hall of Famer and was an instrumental player in establishing the modern NHL defensemen’s game. He’s as smart of a player as he is ruthless too. Honestly, name another NHL player that would have the brains to stand up to the Lightning’s 1-3-1 shenanigans in the midst of a game like Big Prongs did. There are some unbelievably talented NHL defensemen that would have attempted to break the puck out as they have every other time not even realizing that this situation calls for a different response. Not only that, but after the refs decided the stand still method wasn’t allowed (twice) he innovated his maneuver and had a catch with his D partner. If it is the end of Pronger’s time in Philly and his career in general the Philly fan base as well as the whole NHL will miss his presence. He was a commander on the ice it didn’t matter what letter he wore on his sweater.

For the Flyers though his retirement, if it happens, will leave a void in the captaincy in which the Flyers can not go into next season without addressing. I believe it is more likely than not that the Flyers will enter the 2012-2013 campaign with a new player wearing the C. The likely candidates to don the C would be Timonen, Briere and Giroux. They can play it safe and give it to one of their veterans in the locker room ala Kimmo or Danny. Or they could go the other way and give the C to the young, but very composed G. Timonen has been a Captain before in Nashville and Danny also was Co-Captain in Buffalo with Chris Drury so because of those reasons I could see them having the upper hand going into the decision making process. Claude grew by leaps and bounds this season both from a production level and from a leadership standpoint. The guy was fired out of a cannon for game 6 against Pittsburgh. To have the confidence to call your shot to your teammates takes stones. That shift showed that he can put the two most important aspects of the game together – production on the ice and leadership. Only a select few great ones figured out how to marry the two. Those happen to be the greatest Captains in NHL history. Names like Potvin, Bourque, Gretzky, Yzerman, Lemieux, Sakic, Messier and Beliveau are found in that rare category.

I believe G will the Captain of the Flyers at some point. I know if he is declared Captain for the upcoming season there will be a lot of naysayers breathing fire saying “that’s what happened with Richards they gave him the C and the responsibility too early.” Let me tell those people something – G is no Mike Richards. Don’t get me wrong I like Richie. I still think he’s a great player. He is a very dynamic two way forward. Not easy to find them so I can understand why LA jumped all over him when he became available last summer. But Richie is not Captain material. I think he plays the game really well, but I don’t think he breathes fire like G does. G seems to know how to get the team going and more importantly he’s one of those guys that can put a team on his back if need be. Remember in the Phillies 2009 Divisional Series against the Rockies when Ryan Howard had the infamous “get me to the plate” moment? 2 on 2 out down by 2 with 2 strikes and wham. Homerun. The Big Piece delivered. That’s how you put the team on your back. G’s first shift of game 6 against the Pens was reminiscent of that great Phillies moment. The bottom line is Richie was more of a ‘just doing my job’ type of guy. And he did do his job. I just think that G has much more potential. He has the talent and leadership qualities to possibly make it on that revered list of greats.

-John LaMarra

Twitter – @popesnipes77

E-Mail – [email protected]

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Tags: Briere Captain Flyers Giroux Pronger Timonen

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