Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said he believes he is ready to be the next captain of the St. Louis Blues.
Pietrangelo, 26, has been an alternate captain the past three seasons. The Blues have been without a captain since July 1, when forward David Backes signed a five-year contract with the Boston Bruins.
"I would welcome the responsibility," Pietrangelo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday. "I think being so close with Dave over the five years he was captain, I've learned a lot from him just kind of sitting back and seeing how he operates on a daily basis. Not only on the ice but off the ice, which is a big part of it, trying to keep the locker room together and doing the off-ice stuff.
"He was always trying to help me through that. I think he knew this opportunity might come some day for me. He was always willing to answer my questions and I was always eager to ask him. So if there is a guy that I was lucky to learn from, it was him. Being such good friends of his made it that much easier."
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Pietrangelo has spent his nine-season NHL career with the Blues, who selected him with the No. 4 pick of the 2008 NHL Draft. He had seven goals and 37 points in 73 games last season, was plus-10, and led the Blues by averaging 26:18 of ice time per game.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said Pietrangelo is among the players being considered for the captaincy. Pietrangelo and forward Alexander Steen were alternate captains last season.
"[Pietrangelo] was an assistant captain at a young age and he has leadership qualities that we've seen," Armstrong said. "As he gets more and more comfortable in the leadership role he's certainly growing into an elite player that has a presence on the ice."
Pietrangelo said his presence can best be described as friendly, energetic and laid-back at the same time.
"I give everybody the benefit of the doubt," he said. "I don't really stress on too many things. If something negative happens, I push it to the side, learn from it and move on. I do the same thing in life.
"What do I have to stress about? The hockey side of my personality translates on the ice and off the ice, but I know when to flip that switch. And when it comes to my work and it comes to my job, I know how to take it seriously. I know when things need to be said. Sometimes it's uncomfortable to say the things that nobody else wants to say, but I have that in me where I can stand up and be vocal and say the things that nobody wants to say."