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Capitals: Many candidates to replace Clark as captain

Tuesday, 12.29.2009 / 4:55 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Is Alex Ovechkin ready to wear the 'C' on his Capitals sweater?
 
That has to be the question Washington GM George McPhee and coach Bruce Boudreau are asking themselves now that former captain Chris Clark is a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets after Monday's trade that brought Jason Chimera to the District.
 
A decision does not appear to be imminent.
 
"Out of respect for Chris we'll take our time and do this right," McPhee said. "There is no need to rush into this. I don't think it changes a lot to be honest with you. We'll address it in the near future, when the time is right."
 
Ovechkin, who already wears the 'A' as an alternate captain, would seem like the obvious choice to replace Clark as captain considering he's the both the best player on the team and the most visible inside and outside the dressing room.
 
However, that's not always how these things work. What matters more are the leadership qualities that are necessary for a captain in the NHL and Ovechkin has competition in that department.
 
Veteran winger Mike Knuble, who signed a two-year contract this past summer and also wears an 'A,' will get a look. Don't be surprised if Nicklas Backstrom's name surfaces as a candidate and Brooks Laich is both well spoken and outspoken enough to get some support.
 

"You know what, Chris Clark was a great captain and we're going to take our time and we're going to get it right."
-- Bruce Boudreau

Even Brendan Morrison, who is signed only for this season, may be a candidate based on his experience.
 
"You know what, Chris Clark was a great captain and we're going to take our time and we're going to get it right," Boudreau said. "Sometimes guys you think are automatic, they don't want it. I don't think Patrick Marleau wanted the captaincy in San Jose and there is too much pressure on him and he just wants to play. We'll have a good search and talk to a lot of people within the team and I think we'll make the right choice."
 
The Capitals are at least accustomed to playing without a captain.  Due to various injuries, Clark played in only 50 games over the past two seasons. Nobody wore the 'C' in his absence.
 
"I've said all along our team isn't a one-man leadership -- we do it by committee," Laich told the Washington Times. "We have a lot of young guys who learned from the older guys like (Clark). He's a great locker room guy, but we have other guys who can do it. We learned how to, almost forcefully, when he was injured. We do it by committee and now someone will have to step up and assume that role."
 
It might be Ovechkin, but then again it might not be. We'll have to wait and see.
 
Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


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With this being the last year [at the Coliseum], we'd love to try to get back to the dance like we did against Pittsburgh and prove ourselves and go even further. It's an important year.

— New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano