Friends, Michiganders, hockey fans, lend me your eyes. I come to praise Henrik Zetterberg, not to bury Henrik Lundqvist. I feel the Swedish goalie was well within his bounds to not want to comment on the Russian anti-gay laws and jeopardize his potential appearance at the upcoming winter Olympics. This Patrick Burke tweet sums it up nicely.
So let it be with Zetterberg! The Red Wings’ Captain took a bold stance Friday, speaking out against Russia’s anti-gay law. While speaking to a Swedish tabloid, he called the laws “awful” and “unbelievable”. Of course, this if far from Zetterberg’s first heroic act that garnered media attention. This bastion of human rights and advocate for world-wide equality is leading the way in a march for a modern day civil rights movement, and Red Wings fans for the most part couldn’t be prouder. Such leadership has not been seen in the Red Wings’ locker room since Nicklas Lidstrom was captain! I felt like this was a great opportunity to bring to light more of Zetterberg’s finer qualities that make him a fantastic human being and the best captain in the NHL.
Then I decided instead write a comprehensive review about how other NHL captains are awful human beings and highlight Zetterberg’s brilliance that way.
Anaheim Ducks- Ryan Getzlaf
Red Wings fans no doubt remember Getzlaf for three things. Most recently, for leading the Ducks in a losing effort against the Red Wings, and notably throwing a tantrum on the bench during a game, screaming at Todd Bertuzzi and punching the glass station in a manner that would be embarrassing if he were in a pee wee hockey game, much less the elite level of the NHL. It was far from the first time Getzlaf’s emotions got the better of him, but the Red Wings do have a tendency bring out the worst in him.
Secondly Red Wings fans remember Getzlaf signing an elephantine eight-year contract with an $8.25 million cap hit. So much for being a team player and leaving some cap room for others. Getzlaf greedily snatched up every dollar he could, handicapping the Ducks cap situation going forward and all but guaranteeing the departure of Bobby Ryan to the first desperate suitor.
The third thing Getzlaf is most noted for is of course, snot rockets.
If only Detroit stayed in the Western Conference, we would of course take pleasure in watching the Ducks wither under his leadership but alas; he’ll just be another Western Conference opponent to fondly remember defeating. Speaking of fond memories…
Chicago Blackhawks- Jonathan Towes
But sir, how could a man who’s leadership granted him the naming rights to a Manitoban lake be deemed a poor captain? To find out, one need look no further than the most recent playoff series between the Red Wings and the Blackhawks. Towes spent much of the series being shut down by the humanitarian captain Zetterberg, and as a result he spent some of the series regressing to a Getzlaf-like state of childhood tantrums.
Let’s overlook for a moment the ever so childish and brutish antics of Jonathan Towes and the unsportsmanlike way he conducts himself, making him a poor example to all children that happen to be Blackhawks fans. Let us also overlook how Towes would openly opine about how Zetterberg has gotten under his skin with a combination of superior hockey-playing skills and righteous humanitarianism. Let us overlook how Towes needed an intervention from Brent Seabrook in the series against Detroit to keep himself calm and eventually let his time on ice surpass his penalty minutes in the series. This is to say nothing, of course, at his lack of offensive production for the Blackhawks and rather than own up to said lack of offensive production, making excuses of how he was contributing to the victories in other supposedly intangible ways. Let us overlook all of this since apparently, this behavior is acceptable for the captain of an Original Six franchise. The franchise who ranks only ahead of the Rangers in number of Stanley Cup victories among the original six.
The 2013 playoffs provided a great series and it was a blast to watch. And Towes can take his victory and eventual Stanley Cup victory this year. He can take his victory in a series where he was on the score sheet for penalties more often than he was for points. He can take his game 7 victory that required overtime against a Red Wings team that was missing it’s second line center, courtesy of a cheap slew foot from Andrew Shaw. Towes can his overtime victory to secure the series that came about only because of a deflection off of a Red Wing’s skate. He can take all of that. Mostly because that game 7 never should have gone to overtime, that double minor penalty was garbage and I can’t even continue my sarcastic diatribe when mentioning it. But also because Towes will have to enjoy his victories now before his antics run his franchise into the ground and a generation of Chicago children grow up to play hockey throwing tantrums, making excuses for themselves, and slashing each other.
Edmonton Oilers- oh that’s right, their captain was traded.
Calgary Flames- whoops, don’t I look silly?
Columbus Blue Jackets- Are you serious? They traded their captain a year ago? Name another one already slackers!
Dallas Stars- I just look cruel now.
Buffalo Sabers- Oh come on!
Tampa Bay Lightning- Finally a team that didn’t trade its captain… Oh wait, they just bought him out.
Pittsburgh Penguins- Sidney Crosby
Finally we arrive to the sweetheart of the NHL. Rather than dive into ancient history, let’s focus on how Sid the Kid bites his thumb at society’s rules and antagonizes the working class by skipping ahead of them at the DMV . Oh sure, there was no shortage of people rushing to the precious captain’s defense but why should we even consider excusing something so inexcusable?
For a moment, let’s forget how letting one person to the front hardly puts the DMV’s functioning in danger. Let us also forget the so-called ‘logic’ behind taking someone who might cause a scene and expediting their departure from an office that could quickly be overwhelmed should a star’s fans descend on him for sitting in the same spot for an hour. What kind of message are we sending by allowing such behavior?
Our NHL captains are supposed to be examples to the youth that embrace our sport. If our children see the breakdown of society’s load-bearing wall that is the line, we’re starting down a slippery slope. Where do we draw the hypothetical line, with lines? If Sidney Crosby can skip the DMV line, can a college athlete skip the line at his bookstore? Can a high school athlete skip the line at the cafeteria? Perhaps a pee wee hockey player can skip the line at the library to check out The Little Engine That Could or other fine literature. In Pittsburgh, this is the message we’re sending to the kids. If you’re an athlete and a good one, the rules just don’t apply to you! This is to say nothing of an individual standing apart from his team, in which case the entire Pittsburgh Penguins roster should have been present at that DMV. The individual standing out from his team, very similar to…
Philadelphia Flyers- Claude Giroux
In a sport where you’re trained to celebrate the logo on the front and not the name on the back since day one, is there anything more disgusting than a player that puts himself before his team? This is exactly what we got to see when Flyers Captain Claude Giroux injured himself playing golf. Hockey players have to keep themselves healthy, and are obligated to do so when their team makes an investment in them. This is especially true at the NHL level and captains should be setting an example of this. In other sports, some teams are known to specifically forbid dangerous activities such as rock climbing or other extreme sports. This is why it baffles me that the Flyers would not try to deny medical coverage to Giroux for irresponsibly involving himself in the game of golf.
Golf injuries have already been well covered and are known to injure NHLers. This was something Giroux declared couldn’t happen to him, and he’ll miss part of training camp because of it. In the end, Giroux’s desire to win the Stanley Cup was overwhelmed by his desire to recklessly trot about a golf course, and his whole team will pay the price because of it.
The Sedin Twins: Cloning one’s self so that you can get the goal AND the assist when you’re on the score sheet is hardly a good example to others.
Hope you enjoyed by ever-so jovial look at why Henrik Zetterberg stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the NHL captains. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say in the comments!
Let’s Go Red Wings!