The captain. The leader of a team and the one that every other player looks to for inspiration, leadership and more. The captain is often the most important player on an NHL team and one that can take the brunt of the praise and criticism when things go right or wrong. It takes a special kind of person and player to be a captain, and here are five of the best in NHL history, in no particular order. And yes, there are many other amazing captains in history, these are just the ones I feel are among the best.
1. Joe Sakic
If you look up the word leader in the dictionary, you’ll see Joe Sakic’s smiling face. He was the final captain for the Quebec Nordiques and went on to captain the Colorado Avalanche for the next decade plus after their move from Quebec. He led them to two Stanley Cups and also led Canada to a Gold Medal at the 2002 Olympics, their first in 50 years. He was well respected by players and loved by fans for his loyalty to his team, as he stayed with Quebec/Colorado for his entire career.
2. Jean Beliveau
There is perhaps no more well respected player in NHL history than his man. During his tenure with the Montreal Canadiens, he could do no wrong in the eyes of anybody. He won an astounding 10 Stanley Cups in his 18 years with the club, the last 10 he served as captain. His confidence was unbelievable and a source of inspiration and leadership for his teammates. If you need any more indication of just how respected he was, look at the outpouring of well wishes and mourning that took place after his death from millions of fans all over the world.
3. Steve Yzerman
The true impact this man had on the city of Detroit isn’t realized by most people. When they drafted him, they had only made the playoffs twice in the last 17 years and needed some leadership and stability and that is what they got with Stevie Y. In total, he led the team to win the Stanley Cup three times and making the team one of the most stable and successful in history. He was also one of the most complete players in NHL history.
4. Jarome Iginla
Now this pick may surprise some people, but I beg you to find a better and more fitting player for the word “captain” than Iginla during the 2000s. He was not only the best player on his team and the best in the history of the franchise, but he also led by example. This was a guy capable of scoring, hitting and fighting to stand up for his team, something every captain should be capable of doing.
5. Mark Messier
A guy like Messier absolutely had to find himself on this list. He was such a threat on the ice and could do everything from score, hit, pass, fight and more. His competitive spirit was also largely unmatched in the league and gave other teams fits. He won six Stanley Cups and is actually the only player in NHL history to captain two teams to Stanley Cup wins, making him unquestionably one of the greatest leaders and captains in the league’s history.