ILWT Audition 2012: Who Should Be the Next Devils Captain? An Early Look

Earlier this month, I put out the call looking for new writers for In Lou We Trust to write about the New Jersey Devils. I've opened up the audition to the community at large in order to get some new perspectives and additional voices on the front page with regularity. Since then, I've received eleven entries. Regardless of how they're received, I thank the writers of each and every one of them - you know who you are - for stepping up and submitting an entry.

Throughout the next two weeks, I will post each one under an anonymous name so you can discuss and critique the post without regard to who actually wrote it. I can ensure you that I did not change any of the content outside of formatting it in to the SBN platform. and fixing spelling errors. To that end, please note that I don't necessarily agree with what the posts actually say. I'm just letting them stand on their own. Please be constructive in any criticism and do offer your thoughts about whether you liked (or disliked) the post in addition to discussing it's content. Don't be mean, but be fair.

This first entry comes from Writer B blindmeerkat, who made their submission on July 9. With Zach Parise now receiving stacks on stacks on stacks in Minnesota, the New Jersey Devils have to replace his role as captain in addition to his role as a forward. As indicated by the title, Writer B blindmeerkat decided to go through a list potential candidates on the current roster. Find out who Writer B blindmeerkat considered and what Writer B blindmeerkat had to say both in favor and against each candidate for being the team's next captain after the jump.

With the departure of Zach Parise, the New Jersey Devils have something else to add to their to-do list before next season: naming a new team captain. Now, I know that Lou has said that this is something that doesn't have to be dealt with for many weeks, but it is entertaining (at the least) to a fan to speculate on who will rise to take Parise's place.

A good captain needs to have certain traits to be successful - dedication, talent, and the ability to get people to follow, just to name a few. There are also many intangibles that go into being a captain, such as team outlook and what people expect to happen in certain moments. As it is impossible to have all these roads intertwine, it is impossible to name a perfect captain. But what we can do is look at the possible candidates and select the best man for the job.

Here's a glimpse at 5 top candidates for the job with NHL experience, an account of why they deserve the title, and what might go against them.

Ilya Kovalchuk

NHL Experience: 9 years (6.5 with Atlanta, 2.5 with New Jersey)

Case for Captaincy: Kovy, with his once-banned contract, will be a Devil for many years and it would be nice to see him completely live up to the title of "the $100 million man". In the ever-changing world of the NHL, this sort of longevity (13 more years!) is hard to find and having a steady captain can be extremely beneficial. Add to this his scoring talent, as well as his recent demonstrations of sharing the puck and two-way playing, and Kovalchuk can be an all-around respectable captain.

What Might Hold Him Back: Kovy has only been in Jersey for a few short years, and this transformation that he seems to have gone through might not last. He has always been a natural scorer, and that doesn't translate directly to leadership. I feel he had received his "A" a little too soon, and it would be wise to see him put more time into the locker room and organization before bestowing him the honor of captain.

Travis Zajac

NHL Experience: 6 years (all with New Jersey)

Case for Captaincy: Zajac is a full-out dedicated player, as demonstrated by being the New Jersey Devil's Iron Man (most consecutive games played). Even after his Achilles' injury, Travis has shown his ability to bounce back and contribute when needed, going 7/7/14 in 24 games during the postseason (compared to only 3/9/12 in the other 28). A former first-round pick of the Devils, Travis is a career Devil who fits into the "strong but silent" captain model.

What Might Hold Him Back: Zajac has a calm and collective nature, and as such hasn't necessarily shown the outward fire that can spark his teammates. Also, with only one year until free agency, we could see another Parise-like incident - giving him the captaincy as a sign of good faith only to have him leave at the end of the year. I would like to see Travis branch out and show some emotion before becoming captain, as well as signing a new contract.

Andy Greene

NHL Experience: 6 years (all with New Jersey)

Case for Captaincy: Andy Greene has been a somewhat unsung hero for the Devils over the years. Though he doesn't make a huge splash on the stat sheet, the solidity he provides to a recently weakening blue line can't be overlooked. He has bounced back from a dismal 2010-11 campaign (as did the entire team), going from a -23 rating to a +3 in 2011-12 (albeit in limited games). His contract goes another three years, and being a captain for that time frame just might fully make up his mind to staying in Jersey long-term.

What Might Hold Him Back: Greene does not really stand out in any major category, statistical or otherwise. Yes, he's been loyal and steady, but he is average in just about every sense of the word. A captain needs to go above and beyond to represent his team and inspire his teammates, and I don't feel that Andy has shown that potential.

Bryce Salvador

NHL Experience: 10 years (6+ with St. Louis, 3+ with New Jersey)

Case for Captaincy: Salvador was a temporary holder of the "A" patch during the recent playoff run, meaning the players and organization think highly of his leadership skills. Like Andy Greene, he's not flashy but helps to stabilize the defensive end of the ice. He's proven that he can have an offensive input when required, and has bounced back nicely from the head injury that had him sidelined for the 2010-11 season. His recent contract signing ensures he will be with Jersey for a few more years, and there's hardly a better end to a solid career than captaincy.

What Might Hold Him Back: Many people feel Salvador to be a bit overrated, myself included, as he's been known to make mental errors that lead to unsavory situations for his fellow players. Though he did show what he can do during the postseason, I don't expect that sort of performance to hold up. He hasn't made too much of a splash on the ice or with the fans, so I don't think he would be too well received as captain.

Patrik Elias

NHL Experience: 13+ years (all with New Jersey)

Case for Captaincy: Current holder of an "A" patch, Elias is second only to Martin Brodeur in longest tenure on the current Devils roster. While he did once almost leave for a certain team that shall not be named, he wound up coming back to the red-and-black for a long-term deal, being named captain in 2006. He holds several Devils records and is no doubt revered by fans and teammates in the locker room. He's always been one of the faces of the franchise (though he won't bring attention to it) and plays with the confidence and urgency needed for a captain.

What Might Hold Him Back: Elias was already named captain six years ago, and it didn't stick. Though he has been loyal, Elias himself has stated in the past that he does not wish to have the "C" put back on his jersey. If he himself would not be dedicated to the honor, why should it be forced upon him? I think he's fine with the run he's had, he's happy with the "A" and he'll be much better fit to stay in that role.

So, all in all, who should be the next Devils' captain? I think it depends on locking up Travis Zajac. He is, in my opinion, an essential part of this team and has proven his worth and dedication many times over. If he agrees to work on an extension, I think Zajac should have the "C" with Kovy and Elias continuing as alternates. If a contract reworking is not in the cards yet, I'd say give it to Kovy with Elias and Greene/Salvador as alternates. What do you think? Who should be the next captain and alternates?

Editor's Note: Now that you read Writer B blindmeerkat's thoughts on who may become the next New Jersey Devils captain, I want to know what you think. Do you agree with how Writer B blindmeerkat considered each candidate? What did you think of how Writer B blindmeerkat presented the arguments for and against each player? Is this the kind of writing you would want to see regularly at In Lou We Trust? Please leave your answers and other comments about this post in the comments. Thanks to Writer B blindmeerkat for the submission and thank you for reading.

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