After the Vancouver Canucks traded Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders before the trade deadline, they had a decision to make on who to name their new captain. At that point, it seemed the decision came down to Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, and J.T. Miller, who all showed leadership qualities through their NHL experience.
A decision was then made, as they decided on naming Hughes the 15th captain in franchise history, and the first Canucks defenseman to wear the “C” since Doug Lidster during the 1990-91 NHL season, in which that year saw them use a three-player rotation for the captaincy.
Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet chose Hughes as he said the defenseman displayed the qualities he was looking for in a captain.
“He mixes with everybody. As a captain you mix in with everybody,” said Tocchet. “He said some uncomfortable things he had to say when some things didn’t go well or even put himself out there. That’s what I like about this leadership group, they’re not afraid to say something to me.”
Vancouver Made the Right Choice with the Captaincy
While the higher-up core of Jim Rutherford, Patrik Allvin, and Tocchet have only been in Vancouver for at least two years, they mean business when it comes to building a team. This is a good way on writing down the pages on the new chapter of the Canucks as they do their reset.
Hughes was an assistant captain for the first time in his career last season, but this is bigger than just a different letter on the jersey. A new era of Canucks hockey is coming. Having grown significantly during his time with Vancouver, he has grown into a leader, proving of what he is capable of addressing, such as addressing the fans at the final Canucks home game last season and his commentary on the Pride Night controversy to name a few.
Tocchet praised Hughes on his leadership ability ever since he first came in as the team’s head coach, and added that making him the captain was the right choice because the players are excited about it, with Allvin adding it is a significant milestone for the team.
Pettersson is a more introverted person, even though his time in Vancouver has rarely saw him trusted as “the guy,” though the timing of naming Hughes as the captain is interesting, considering that he declined to sign an extension and intended to not hold contract talks until after this season.
Hughes’ Come Up with the Canucks
Hughes, the eldest of the three brothers between him and New Jersey Devils forward Jack and defenseman Luke, said he won’t be the loudest player in the locker room, but he spoke to Horvat, and had other talks with Pettersson and Ottawa Senators star and captain Brady Tkachuk, about being a captain in a Canadian market before taking on the role of the captaincy and is wanting to be a leader through work ethic.
In what was the most impressive season of his career, he recorded seven goals and 69 assists for 76 points in 78 games, reaching point-per-game status as a defenseman after being named to the All-Star Game for the third time in his career. There were questions with his defensive play at the beginning of his NHL career, but he has improved on his takeaway numbers and holds strong possession metrics.
Though he is the only defenseman from last year’s opening night lineup to return to the team (Tyler Myers, despite still being on the team, was out with an injury and did not play during Vancouver’s opening game last season), he says he will still lean on his teammates, including the other leaders in the locker room, and added that he will work with the Sedin twins leading up to the start of the season.
With the Canucks looking to get back to playoff contention, it’s going to be Hughes’ responsibility to lead them into their next chapter.
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