Bob Hartley has already made his decision as to who will serve as the next captain of the Calgary Flames.
He’s just not ready to make that announcement yet.
“I’ll keep it a surprise,” said the Calgary coach when he met with the media after the first on-ice sessions of training camp at the Markin MacPhail Centre. “I want to make it clear. We’re not thinking about someone. Our choice is made up a long time ago.”
The captaincy has remained vacant since the Flames traded Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins last season on March 27.
After the Flames missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, Hartley and his coaching staff had individual meetings with all of the players, including Mark Giordano, Mike Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross, who served as assistant captains after Iginla’s departure.
“We have some very good prospects to be captains, to be assistant captains, but when all our meetings were done and basically we were coming up with one name, it was basically unanimous that it was the one guy,” said Hartley, while adding that he thinks of his new captain as a great example of commitment and dedication. “I thought that it was an easy choice.”
While Cammalleri said he wouldn’t turn down the captaincy, he has a sneaking suspicion that the job will go to Giordano, who is entering his seventh season in the NHL, all of them with the Flames.
“My bet would be that Mark would make a great captain of this club,” Cammalleri said. “He’s earned the trust of a lot of guys here for a long time. He’s a tremendous hockey player. He stands for a lot of things that I think would make him a great captain. That would be my guess.
“I’d be happy to be alongside with Glennie as an assistant and support him in that role.”
Forward Sven Baertschi, who ended his rookie season last year on a seven-game point streak, also said that Giordano would be perfect for the job.
“He’s a phenomenal pro,” Baertschi said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s practice or a game, it’s always the same intensity that he has. Seeing him doing the right things every single day in practice and games is a perfect example of a good pro.”
Giordano was more concerned about getting through the first day of training camp unscathed than whether Hartley officially named the new captain.
“It’s something I guess that they’ve made their decision about, but as players it’s just get through camp and worry about that for now,” said Giordano, who last served as captain at the Midget AAA level when he played for the North York Rangers. “That was a tough Day 1 and go from there.”
Giordano added that it would definitely be an honour to succeed Iginla as Calgary’s captain.
“I think anybody would love to wear a ‘C’,” Giordano said. “It would be unbelievable obviously. I think if you ask anyone, any player in the league, they’re all going to give you the same answer.”
Regardless of who gets named as Calgary’s new captain, Glencross said that every player who wears a letter will have to work together on and off the ice.
“We’re a pretty tight group,” Glencross said. “It’s not going to really matter with any of us who’s going to get the captaincy. Obviously the captain is the guy that’s the head leader or whatever. You obviously need a couple guys to help you support and get your point across.”
All the veterans will have to provide leadership for the Flames to be successful, Glencross said.
“We’re a young group,” he said. “It’s going to be a little bit of a building stage here and we’ve just got to be positive. We all need each other.”
Forward Matt Stajan, who’s entering his 10th NHL season, agreed with Glencross that all of the veterans will have to band together to provide collective leadership.
“You don’t let one guy just take the reins and put all the pressure him,” Stajan said. “That doesn’t work. It hasn’t ever worked. You need other guys to support whoever is going to be the captain. All of us older guys who have been around for a little longer than the younger guys are going to have to do that and lead the way.”
For Giordano, that means that he’ll continue to be one of the hardest workers every time the Flames hit the ice.
“As far as being one of the older guys now, I’ve always thought you could say whatever you want off the ice, but the main thing is guys look up to guys who play well on the ice and do the right things on the ice,” Giordano said. “I’m going to try and do that and play hard every night and every practice and go from there.”