Chris Kunitz has signed with Tampa Bay Lightning, leaving one of the Pittsburgh Penguins alternate captain roles available for the first time in years.
That’s right, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a bit of a job opening on their hands. It doesn’t offer a pay raise, but it does come with responsibilities. Alternate captains are tasked with communicating with officials and are viewed as team leaders.
If you’re an alternate captain you serve as the personification of a team’s quality and style of play. Or you are old. Coaching and management have to decide which player will don the “A”. Pittsburgh has a nice combination of youth and experience, so the roster is full of quality candidates, but who deserves it most? There are some good nominees, therefore, let’s run through a few names.
The ferocious forward is a coach’s dream. Hornqvist goes hard to the net 100% of the time; this guy lives in the blue paint.
He’s the fourth member of the Blue Man Group.
This man is so blue, Steve is still looking for his clues.
He’s so – you get it.
Hornqvist found great success playing on different lines with Penguins, and his tenacity and hard nosed style sets him apart from other candidates. Therefore, Hornqvist can bring strength and variety in a leadership role for the Pens. He can guide the impending youths to play just as hard as he does.
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Matt Hunwick is a new name on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster, but he’s no stranger to leadership roles. He spent last season as an alternate captain on a young Toronto team.
Hunwick can bring a new twist on leadership and, despite being a new face, could be a suitable fit for the role.
On the flip side, being the new guy is hard enough. Therefore the staff might not want to put any more pressure on a player in that position.
Now this is a dark horse candidate. Like Hunwick, Kessel served as an alternate captain for a stint in Toronto. And if it was up to a fan vote, Kessel would be wearing the C and both A’s.
However, given his reputation (whether it’s true or not) of not having the best relationship with Mike Sullivan, it’s doubtful that Phil gets the call. Though fans would love to see the player rewarded.
Letang has been such a key player in recent history you almost forget he doesn’t have a letter on his sweater. His status as an elite NHL defenseman makes him a quality choice, and his off ice contributions to the community make him a respectable figure.
Honestly, I would be SHOCKED if Tanger doesn’t get the honors. He has been such a formidable part of this franchise for so long therefore he is the most deserving.