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Impact
Impact!
NHL.com's Online Magazine
Jan/2003, Vol. 1, Issue 4
  • With the honor of being a captain comes lots of hard work

  • Rangers' Messier has come to symbolize what leadership is about

  • Bruins turn leadership role to 24-year-old Thornton

  • NHL.com picks the 10 best captains of the last 20 years

  • Wigge: Being a captain requires class, courage and the feel of a champion

  • Captains: In their own words (MP3)

  • Behind the scenes: 'Patch' Wilson doctors Coyotes' gear

  • Burton enjoyed his day in 'The Show'

  • Photo of the month

  • Back issues of Impact

  •  
    Mario Lemieux
    A scoring machine early in his career, Mario Lemieux became a lightning rod for courage and determination later in his career as he battled cancer and debilitating back injuries.

    Captains with a capital 'C'
    NHL.com picks the 10 best captains
    of the last 20 years

    By Shawn P. Roarke



    Hockey captains tend to be bigger than life to most people. Adjudged to be the leader of the team, captains are often among the best players on a squad, as well as being the best leaders. They tend to embody all the attributes that fans find attractive -- skill, savvy, toughness, leadership and humility.

    Each NHL player has achieved the personal pinnacle of his career when presented with the "C". His legacy never to be forgotten by the team or its fans.

    With that said, however, some captains stand out. Some leaders just have that innate ability to inspire and lead others to greatness. Throughout the NHL's history, legendary captains have become the norm, rather than the exception.

    Below, is a look at 10 of the best captains from the last two decades, players having served from the 1982-83 season to the present.

    10. Rod Langway, Washington -- The face of the Capitals for so long, Langway let his on-ice play do his talking. The star on the blue line every season for Washington, Langway fashioned a Hall of Fame career through hard work and determination. His superior work ethic served as an inspiration. After missing the playoffs in their first eight seasons of existence, the Capitals never missed the postseason during Langway's tenure as captain.

    9. Ron Francis, Hartford, Pittsburgh, Carolina -- Often forgotten when the names of the game's greatest players are discussed, Francis is also a low-profile leader. But that does not mean that his is not an effective leader. Just ask Carolina coach Paul Maurice, who leaned heavily on Francis to get his team past some tough times in the march to the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals. Francis is revered by teammates, the ultimate testimony to his effectiveness as a leader.

    8. Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh -- Players cannot help but follow Lemieux into battle. A scoring machine early in his career, Lemieux became a lightning rod for courage and determination later in his career as he battled cancer and debilitating back injuries to continue playing the game he loved at a level few could ever hope to emulate. Despite his success and iconic stature in the game, Lemieux remains just one of the guys in the dressing room.

    Joe Sakic
    Always willing to take on the extra burden, Joe Sakic is one of those superstars that does all the little things.
    7. Denis Potvin, New York Islanders -- Just one of several great players on the Islanders' dynasty of the early-1980s, Potvin kept that collection of stars focused on the goal of winning and defending Stanley Cup championships. A supremely talented defenseman, Potvin was not above doing the dirty work needed to keep the Islanders on top of the hockey heap. He also made sure that coach Al Arbour's preaching was accepted by the rank and file.

    6. Joe Sakic, Colorado -- Sakic served as an inspiration to the Avalanche during their 2001 Stanley Cup triumph, keeping the team together after it fell into a three-games-to-two hole against New Jersey. Always willing to take on the extra burden, Sakic is one of those superstars that does all the little things, like winning faceoffs and backchecking, to show teammates he is passionate about winning. Sakic also claimed the Conn Smythe Trophy in Colorado's 1996 Cup triumph.