Saturday, October 30, 2010

Captain Vanek

After Craig Rivet's benching during tonight's Atlanta game, there has been some speculation over what happens with the captaincy.  After all, it doesn't do your team any good if the guy with the 'C' is sitting on the bench.  The following is merely me floating an idea.  I'm not saying it's necessarily a good idea, nor do I profess to be intimately aware of the dynamics within the Sabres locker room.

Whew.

Are you ready?  Wait, you probably already read the title.  Shit.

Make Thomas Vanek the Captain.  It's something that Brian Koziol brought up on the post-game report and something I've secretly been rolling around in my head for a while.  The points Koziol made are good ones, and very similar to my own justifications.

Vanek has high standards.  This is plainly obvious in the way he berates himself every time (every time) he misses a scoring chance.  You want a captain with high standards because you want him to inspire the rest of the team to have high standards for themselves.  Look, you don't win a cup by being a good team.  You win a cup by having guys play above themselves in key moments, something the Sabres definitely need.

Vanek busts his ass.  People can rag on him as much as they want, but the truth is that Thomas Vanek hustles and back checks with the best of them.  I know that half the people reading this are going to start with the "with my own two eyes...!" bullshit.  Look, I don't care what your anti-European and big-contract bias makes you see about Vanek.  Dude hustles.

Vanek has shown the ability to rise to the occasion when given more responsibility.  Every Sabres fan fondly remembers the start of the 2008-2009 season when Vanek was given penalty kill time and responded with several shorthanded opportunities (and a few goals to boot).  (Yeah, this guy doesn't hustle.)  Think back to last season when Vanek was coming off his injury late in the year.  Four goals against Ottawa, one goal against New Jersey, a goal in Game one, an assist in Game two, and another goal in Game five.  That's eight points in basically the five biggest games he played in that season.

If Rivet's benching becomes less an anomaly and more the norm, what do you have to lose?  Wouldn't telling a guy who (supposedly) has confidence issues that the team believes that he can be the man do wonders for his game?  The team is in 13th, but it only takes a small winning streak to get back into contention.  We need to do something while that still holds true.

Give Vanek the 'C' and he will flourish.

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