Ottawa Senators Assistant Captains, Is it time for A Change?


Over this past season,  there seemed to be a complete changing of the guard when it came to the leadership core of the Ottawa Senators. Chris Phillips and Chris Neil spent the majority of their seasons on the IR or as healthy scratches while players like Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur found themselves playing with the “A” on their jersey. A couple months ago I looked at the future of Neil and Phillips and with the recent youth movement of this organization and the speculation that the only two remaining players from the 2007 team that made the Stanley Cup Finals may be reaching the end of their tenure with the team perhaps this off-season is the right time to complete the overhaul and redistribute the “A”‘s.

Who’s Got it Now?

Some may say that taking away the assistant captain title from Neil and Phillips is not right, that these players have paid their dues and in Phillips’ case, was even overlooked when the captaincy became available after the departure of Daniel Alfredsson. The argument against allowing those two to retain the “A”‘s has more to do with what other players are doing on and off the ice than what Neil and Phillips are not doing.

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Sure Neil and Phillips more than likely deserved to be named assistant captains two years ago when Jason Spezza was given the reigns, but at that time I don’t think the Senators organization had many options. Neil was and mostly likely will always be a fan favourite in Ottawa when it comes to his involvement in the community and the way he conducts himself outside of the arena. He also is one of the hardest working players on the team when it comes to doing his job.

Neil was never going to be a top six player and because of that he worked to become on of the tougher players to play against, and mind you he did just that. Fans could always count on Neil to get them out of their seats even if the team was not doing it.

Phillips on the other hand is more like the old grizzly’d veteran and the typical stay at home defensemen. He never complained when his minutes were reduced as his age increased and you didn’t hear anything from him when his name was passed over for captaincy twice. This team owed Phillips a lot for all the hard work and years of service he has given, and since being named an assistant captain in the 2006-2007 season, it was only fitting that the team continue to honour him with the title until he retires.

Who Should Be Next?

First and foremost, Kyle Turris should be given an “A”. While Neil was out with his hand injury Turris donned the letter on his jersey and proved to the coaching staff that they had made the right choice.  Turris is one of the hardest working players on the team and after the departure of Spezza was pegged as the teams number one centre. Turris flourished this past season with career highs in assists and points. He has shown his leadership on the ice, as rarely did it seem that he took a night off.

First and foremost, Kyle Turris should be given an “A”

The majority of Ottawa’s offence circled around the Turris line and you could tell that the rest of the team followed his lead down the stretch. Turris is not going to be the guy to step up in the dressing room and provide a motivational speech, but with the strides his game has taken over the past three years and the maturing he has done, he has all the qualities of an assistant captain and will be the guy to push the rest of team and lead by example.

The next guy who should be considered for a promotion within the leadership group is Marc Methot. The Ottawa Senators are a completely different team with Methot is in the line up and his work ethic is among the best on the team. Methot gives its 110% night in and night out, and when called upon to be the face of the team during intermissions its easy to see the leadership qualities he possess.

The Senators could also consider guys such as Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan as alternatives. MacArthur has proven he is a legitimate NHL top 6 player who hustles and works his tail off for this team. I would not be surprised if “Grizz” was one of the more vocal players in the dressing room as he’s been known to have a high level of expectations for both himself and his teammates.

I am not entirely sure that giving Bobby Ryan an “A” would be beneficial to his overall success. After signing a seven-year extension and having the disappointing season he had, the pressure for Ryan to come back next year and return to that 30 goal scorer pedigree will be exponential.

Putting a letter on his jersey would only fuel the fire of pressure put on him and it would probably be best for the team to allow him to work on his own game rather than having to worry about being a vocal leader. Ryan leads by scoring goals and I don’t think he needs to be named an assistant captain for fans to know that he one of the pillars of the leadership group of this Senators team.

Voice Your Opinion

There will be a lot of speculation regarding what the Senators lineup will look like going into the 2015-2016 season from who will be sticking around, to which goalie will ultimately be shipped out of town. With the Dave Cameron contract extension signing expected in the coming days, I would not be surprised to see him put his true stamp on this year by changing up the leadership group and redistributing a couple letters.

So, who do you think will be given the added responsibilities that come with a letter on their jersey this coming season?