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Ryan hopes Senators have a captain this season

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Bobby Ryan
Right Wing - OTT
GOALS: 23 | ASST: 25 | PTS: 48
SOG: 190 | +/-: 7
The Ottawa Senators have been without a  captain since center Jason Spezza was traded to the Dallas Stars on July 1.

It appears they're in no rush to name a replacement for Spezza, but Senators right wing Bobby Ryan said Wednesday he hopes one is named sooner rather than later. Defensemen Erik Karlsson and Chris Phillips, and forward Chris Neil appear to be the logical candidates.

Spezza wore the "C" for Ottawa last season after longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson opted to sign with the Detroit Red Wings in July 2013.

"I'm a big believer that you should (have a captain)," Ryan said, according to the Senators website. "I think at the same time you've had two captains in two years leave and you don't want that kind of thing to happen a third time or whatever that may be. You want to make sure that captain is a guy you're building around and is a guy who's going to stay a long time, whether it's a Karlsson or [Phillips] who could be leaving in two years or [Neil] who could be leaving in two years, you never know.

"I think for me, individually, it's nice to have one. I've never played without one so I couldn't tell you what it's like. That group of guys, the guys that wore the letters last year and the guys you think are going to wear the letters are already our leadership group and they're already the guys that talk. Whether one of them steps forward to wear a bigger letter, it doesn't really mean more to them or to us, but I think from an on-the-ice standpoint it has always been convenient to have one."

General manager Bryan Murray said there's a chance the Senators won't have a captain when they open the season Oct. 9 against the Nashville Predators. He's more interested in making sure there's a good leadership core in place to work with coach Paul MacLean.

"We have to make the right decision, if we make a decision in that area," Murray told TSN's Bob McKenzie on Monday. "It may well be that we go with three 'A's' this year and appoint one of them as sort of the senior guy. I think a captain is really important, but I also think that having a core of four or five guys, at least, that relate to the coach and help with the players is just as important."

With so many teams opting to have a younger player as captain, there's a good chance Karlsson would get the job if the Senators decide to name one. Murray said he's unsure if the team is ready to hand the 24-year-old the added responsibility.

"He's a forceful guy, he's an opinionated guy and he's a talented guy," Murray said of Karlsson, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman in 2012. "He's respected by all of the players in the room. I think we just have to see now, can he take the step that we think he'll get back to, and I don't think there's a big hurry to put a young guy in a pressure spot at this time. But we may well decide at the end of training camp that there is a need to do that and if we have to, we will."

MacLean told the Senators website Wednesday he'd like to have the issue resolved but it isn't imperative a captain is named quickly.

"No, I don't think we need to have one," MacLean said. "I would prefer to have one. I think it's a great privilege and honor for a player to be the captain of the team, but it also has to be the right representative of the team and what the team is about. The identity of our team, that player has to reflect that.

"We want to do it when the time is right, when we finally make the decision who it's going to be … we have a number of qualified candidates to be captain and we're going to take our time in the process and get it sorted. When the time is right we'll make our announcement."

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