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BTB BLOG: WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME THE CAPTAIN?

by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Beyond the Boards is written by the Buffalo Sabres Website Manager, Brian Wheeler. Joining the Sabres prior to the 2003-04 season, Wheeler is the main contact and content editor for Sabres.com. He has worked in the NHL, NFL, AHL and NLL over the past 11 years.  Click here to send him an email.


 
Jason Pominville (photo: Getty Images)
A lot has been made on message boards and other mediums about how Lindy Ruff chooses each month's captain.

Ruff spoke about that process a little more in depth today.  The question was posed by WGR's Paul Hamilton specifically about Paul Gaustad, but the answer is pretty universal and can relate to any player's situation.

"We've got a lot of good leaders," said Ruff.  "When we judge on [the captaincy], we look at how guys have played and we look whether we want to put added pressure with where they are at.  

"Part of when you discuss [the captaincy] is, is it going to more more pressure on them?  Paul is as good as anybody when it comes to leading.  I just didn't feel that he needed added pressure to ... 'oh boy, I'm wearing the "C" and I need to start producing here'

"That factors into it.  Part of putting it back on Jochen [Hecht] was that we know Jochen's game doesn't change.  Jason Pominville, we really feel that it was well deserved."

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Listen to Ruff's and Pominville's full interviews below.

Pominville Interview 
Ruff Interview 
Take a look at the list of captains this season.

Jochen Hecht (October, 2007)
Toni Lydman (November, 2007)
Brian Campbell (December, 2007)
Jaroslav Spacek (January, 2008)
Jochen Hecht (February, 2008)
Jason Pominville (March, 2008)

They all share a similar quality.  At the time when they were given the captaincy, each was considered one of the Sabres top players, but not necessarily their most offensive.

When a defenseman was captain, he was always one half of the Sabres top pairing at that time.  Coming into 2007-08, Lydman and Tallinder were the top pair.  Midway through the year, Campbell and Spacek surpassed them for a short period.  That change is reflected by the list above.

Hecht and Pominville have almost always been the team's most consistent, two-way players.  They also happen to be the two that trust and stick with the system the most (something Buffalo has struggled with in the past few games).

It sounds to me like Ruff is looking for one thing out of his captain.  Basically, he wants him to be a leader on and off the ice whether he has the letter on his jersey or not.  

Pominville's thoughts about being the captaincy from today.

How do you envision yourself as a captain?

"I think I'm a guy where if I do have something to say, I'll definitely say it.  I may not be the guy that speaks up the most but I think when I do I may catch everybody's attention by not being the most vocal guy.  I think I'm a guy that leads by example a lot through my work ethic during games and in practice."

Do you feel any extra pressure to be captain during the most crucial month of the season?

"That's one thing that I want to make sure I don't want to do is add pressure on myself.  No matter who has the "C" our main focus right now has to be on winning games.  That's the most important thing for us.  Having a letter on your sweater is definitely an honor and something that's pretty special, but making the playoffs is even more special.  It's something that we've worked hard as a team to get to.  We're right there and we want to make sure that we keep battling."
 
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