Move over Sidney Crosby, you no longer hold the title of youngest captain in NHL history.
That title now belongs to 19-year-old Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog, who was named the fourth captain in team history on Tuesday. The move came after veteran Milan Hejduk told the coaching staff that he decided to relinquish his role and give up the “C”. He will remain an alternate, along with Paul Stastny.
At 19 years, 286 days, Landeskog is 11 days younger than Sidney Crosby was when named the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 31, 2007 and certainly has big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of Joe Sakic, Adam Foote and Hejduk. He’s also the 11th captain in the history of the Avalanche franchise – a franchise that moved from Quebec in 1995 – and just the third European-born to earn the title.
This won’t be the first time Landeskog will wear the “C”, however. Landeskog captained the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League during the 2010-11 season – his final of junior hockey. He was named captain at the age of 17, becoming the first European captain in the franchise’s 48-year history and the youngest in 30 years to captain the Rangers.
It seemed inevitable that Landeskog would one day become that captain of the Avalanche, but no one thought it would happen this quickly. Last season Landeskog won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year, after the Swedish native was selected second overall by Colorado in the 2011 NHL Draft. He finished the season tied for first in points with 52 and was second in plus/minus, game-winning goals and hits. But there’s more to a captain than just talent or raw ability.
A captain has to be able to set an example for his team and lead the troops into battle, metaphorically speaking. There’s a reason NHL franchises typically name an experienced veteran to don the “C”. Was Colorado just looking to make a splash, naming Landeskog the captain so early in his career?
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