It’s official. John Tavares is the new Islanders captain.
While it was a shock to just about no one, we can finally look ahead to training camp, pre-season, and the start of the regular season. Like in any organization, when someone is promoted, a vacancy usually remains in said promoted persons spot. As of now, the New York Islanders have one (technically two) alternate captain spots available for the upcoming season. With the leader of the team named, just slapping an “A” on anyone’s sweater just won’t do.
Alternate captains to the captain can almost be seen as vice presidents to the president. You may not be the “leader” per say, but your job is to aid the leader in his responsibilities. If he goes down, people look to you to fill the void. Last season, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo served as alternate captains to the now departed Mark Streit. Moving ahead, who will be the vice presidents to John Tavares’ presidency?
The obvious is to keep Kyle Okposo as one. The 25-year-old has proved he has the heart and mentality of a true leader and his aggressive style of play would be the perfect balance to Tavares’ more calm, laid back demeanor. Yes, we all know about his notorious slow starts to the season but between his off-season training and explosive playoff performance last May, keeping an “A” on Okposo’s chest would make perfect sense.
Assuming the Isles stay away from the good ol’ rotating alternate captains, that leaves room for one more. This seems to be an ongoing discussion among Islanders fans. From my own internal survey, there are several front-runners to take the last spot: Matt Martin, Matt Moulson, and Travis Hamonic. Each carry their own set of traits that would make any option practical, but the leader is looking like the newly extended Travis Hamonic. As one of the core members of the Isles defense and a guy who is signed for the long haul, the Isles may use Hamonic as another building block for the future and prove to the fanbase and the entire National Hockey League that the rotating door of captains and alternate captains is coming to a screeching halt.
No matter who Islanders management chooses as their alternate captains, the choice will be fitting and appropriate. As an organization that has turned a corner and are looking ahead to a bright future, the new alternates will compliment the new captain for upcoming seasons. A decision focused on both the now and the later, the Islanders are surging forward, bringing glory back to the Island, and eventually, to their new home in Brooklyn as well.