After consulting with general manager Ray Shero and his coaching staff, head coach Dan Bylsma announced following practice on Wednesday that defenseman Brooks Orpik
and center Jordan Staal
will join captain Sidney Crosby
and alternate captain Evgeni Malkin
as alternate captains for the 2010-11 season.
Although this is the first time both players have been named alternate captains on a full-time basis, it’s not the first time either has sported an ‘A’ on his jersey.
Orpik, 30, has worn a letter on several occasions the past two seasons when injuries sidelined Malkin and then alternates Sergei Gonchar and Bill Guerin.
Staal, 22, donned an ‘A’ for one month during the 2008-09 campaign when the Penguins rotated the alternate captaincy throughout the lineup when Gonchar missed the first 56 games due to a shoulder injury.
Bylsma believes the timing is right for both players – each core members of the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup championship squad – to now serve as captains on a permanent basis.
“Brooks is a guy who has been a leader in our room and has worn an ‘A’ for us at different times in the past,” Bylsma said. “With the way he plays and the voice he has in the room, he has been that type of leader for us in the past.
“Jordan is a guy who is emerging in that role. He is still very young. He has played a lot of games and playoff games. He is just starting to get to the point in his career where he demands a lot of respect with the way that he plays. Now he is starting to have a voice. He is a leader in the way that he plays and the way that he acts on and off the ice. That really went a long way towards him joining the other guys as one of the alternate captains.”
Naming Orpik, the longest-tenured member of the team, an alternate captain, allows the Penguins to have a defenseman serving as one of the team’s official leaders. Bylsma said he likes the balance between forwards and blueliners that naming Orpik provides, but he said that most importantly, Orpik received the ‘A’ because he was the most-deserving choice.
“It’s not mandatory to have a defenseman serve as one of the captains for me, but I do take that into consideration,” Bylsma said. “I picked Brooks because he is a respected guy in that room and he will be a good leader for us.”
As far as Staal, joining fellow young phenoms Crosby and Malkin in an official leadership capacity was all about the Thunder Bay, Ontario native taking the next step in his burgeoning career.
“I think we talk often about our core that we have had together and look forward to keeping together well into the future,” Bylsma said. “I think Jordan has always been a part of that. He is starting to emerge as a leader in his own right. I think being named a captain is fitting for where he is at in his career. I think he will continue to grow into this role well.”
Orpik and Staal will rotate wearing the ‘A’ on their jerseys between home and road games, but with Staal sidelined the first couple weeks of the season due to a foot infection, Orpik will wear the ‘A’ on a regular basis until Staal’s return.