Montreal goes sans captain instead of choosing Subban or Pacioretty

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This is going to be hard to believe, but the Montreal Canadiens announced they will have no captain for the 2014-15 season and will instead of have four "assistant captains": Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban. 

I know, right? “Assistant captains?” This franchise has been around since the Jurassic Era and it doesn’t know they’re called “alternates?” Who’s running social media over there … an American?

Less surprising is that the Canadiens opted not to name a captain. First, because it’s not unheard of: The Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres have gone without one; the San Jose Sharks are expected to do the same in their halfhearted “rebuild” of leadership.

But mostly because the Canadiens recognized the delicate situation they had here.

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Carey Price is basically the captain, except he can’t be one because he’s a goalie. Max Pacioretty is captain material, but so is P.K. Subban, who along with Price is a pillar in the team’s foundation.

It becomes a BIG DEAL if Subban isn’t named captain; and yet it’s also a BIG DEAL if he is named captain, because it creates another entry point for his critics. Ask Dion Phaneuf what life’s like with the media on your rump about nebulous “leadership” critiques every season.

So the Habs opted for a system in which the two foreign guys always wear the ‘A’ while Subban and Pacioretty will alternate the alternate. GM Marc Bergevin said: "We'll start with P.K. at home, Max on the road and the other two guys will [wear letters] every game." 

(That's per NHL rules, by the way, which states there can be only three alternates each game if there's no captain.)

This is a Cirque du Soleil level of contortionism to avoid having to name either Pacioretty or Subban captain, but hey, whatever works.

They clearly don’t think Subban’s ready for the role, and that’s fine. Better to do this than what the Washington Capitals did in 2006, when Olaf Kolzig was the de facto captain, Alex Ovechkin was considered too immature for the ‘C’ (even though Crosby already had it) and the team named Chris Clark their captain. Yes, THE Chris Clark.

The Canadiens are kicking the can down the road a bit. Maybe the situation gains clarity over the next 82 games.