Sean Couturier’s Honor is a Long Time Coming

Becoming the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers is an honor that has been a long time coming for Sean Couturier.
Becoming the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers is an honor that has been a long time coming for Sean Couturier. / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Recently, the Flyers finally filled the vacant captaincy position. Since Claude Giroux was traded away in the spring of 2022, the team has had no captain. That honor has now been given to Sean Couturier. In many ways, this is an honor that was a long time coming.

When Giroux left, there was a leadership vacancy. Although, many feel that, at least in his last season, Giroux had mentally checked out before that. Whatever is true, we'll never know for sure. When John Tortorella took over as head coach a few months later, he didn't rush to name a successor to Giroux. Scott Laughton got an "A," but he was it. Coach Torts wanted to take his time to get to know the team and its players.

However, last year was a mess. The team had three of its most senior players, Cam Atkinson, Ryan Ellis, and Couturier, start the year injured. At one point in November, the team had the equivalent of their top two lines and top defensive pairing down with injuries. This also overlapped a little bit with the 10-game losing streak.

Good teams can come back from an injury. Great teams can rebound for several. We saw this when the Eagles won the Super Bowl a few years ago. Jason Peters got man up. Carson Wentz got hurt...give the ball to Nick Foles. We have also seen that with the Phillies in the last two seasons. As Bryce Harper has dealt with injuries, the team did well enough to hold down the fort until he returned.

With Couturier back this season, you can't help but wonder if last year would've gone differently. He's one of the main reasons this team is playing better this year than the previous year. Couturier is also a major reason why the Flyers are in the playoff hunt. And to be fair, how good would Boston have been over the last few years if they lost their entire "Perfection Line" at the same time for months on end? It's easy to look back on last season and see the void that Couturier's absence left.

Couturier has never been the best player on the team. He is not the scorer like Giroux was, and Travis Konecny is now. He isn't the fastest player on the team. He's not the guy that you look to pass the puck to with 15 seconds left, and you are down by one goal and need someone to bury the puck behind the goalie. Couturier is not that guy, and he doesn't need to be. But by being a fundamentally sound player, he makes those players better.

Couturier is this team's version of Keith Primeau. Stats-wise, he won't lead the league in any of the sexy stat categories. However, he does everything you need to get done in a game to win. He doesn't turn the puck over in the Flyers' zone and leave the goalie exposed. He knows when to get back on defense to break up a play. He also has this Jedi-like ability to sniff out the opponent's plans during a penalty kill and knows how to frustrate it. Couturier already has one Selke Trophy on his mantle. He has four other top-ten finishes for the award, including finishing second to Anze Kopitar. And with perennial winner Patrice Bergeron retired, the award is Couturier's to lose.

More importantly, he is the heart and soul of this team. He is the hardest-working player this team has. Perhaps he learned this from playing with Wayne Simmonds or picked up as a rookie watching Jaromir Jagr. Either way, nobody hustles more than he does. There is not a player on this team that leaves more on the ice than he does.

This is why Couturier is the new captain of the team. This is why he has been given that honor. It is in recognition of all he does and what he means to this locker room. Couturier is the longest-tenured Flyer and will be around for years to come. He will set a great example for the younger players now and those that will follow in the next few seasons.