World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Captain (ice hockey)

Shane Doan, wearing the "C" as captain of the Arizona Coyotes.

In ice hockey, the captain is the player designated by his team as the only person authorized to speak with the game officials regarding rule interpretations when he is on the ice. At most levels of play, each team must designate one captain and a number of alternate captains (usually two) who speak to the officials when the captain is on the bench. The captain wears a "C" on his jersey, while the alternate captains wear an "A".

Officially the captain has no other responsibility or authority, though depending on the league or individual team, he may have various informal duties, such as participation in pre-game ceremonies or other events outside of the game. As with most team sports that designate captains, the captain is usually a well-respected player and a de facto team leader.[1]


  • Responsibilities and importance 1
  • Selection 2
  • Alternate captains 3
  • Designation on uniform 4
  • NHL captains 5
    • Records 5.1
    • Stanley Cup Finals 5.2
    • Minority captains 5.3
    • Goaltender captains 5.4
  • See also 6
  • References 7

Responsibilities and importance

Captains Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings (right) and Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks (middle) talk with a referee.

According to International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and National Hockey League (NHL) rules, the only player allowed to speak with referees about rule interpretations is the captain, or, if the captain is not on the ice, an alternate captain.[2][3]

Although the rules do not specify any other distinction between the captain and his teammates, the captain has numerous responsibilities to the team, particularly in North American professional hockey. The captain is a dressing room leader, and also represents the players' concerns to management.[4] During the game, captains are expected to motivate their teams, particularly captains who are stars or franchise players.

The captain is often considered the primary representative of the team to the public, sometimes is responsible for organizing the team's social functions and performing ceremonial on-ice functions, such as award presentations or ceremonial faceoffs.[4]


NHL teams need not designate the same player as captain from game to game, though most teams do. For instance, in the 1985–86, when Boston Bruins captain Terry O'Reilly retired, Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton were named as co-captains of the team. Middleton wore the "C" during home games and Bourque for road games during the season's first half, and the two switched for the second half. This arrangement continued until Middleton retired in 1988 and Bourque became the sole captain. Some teams name two (such as the Buffalo Sabres during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 NHL seasons) or three (such as the Vancouver Canucks during the 1990–91 season) captains for a season. Some teams rotate captains rather than keep one for an extended period of time (the Minnesota Wild rotated captaincy every one or two months until the 2009–10 season, when Mikko Koivu was named the first permanent captain since the franchise's inception). During each NHL game, however, only one player can officially be designated as captain.[3]

Captains are selected by different means: in some instances, teams have held votes among their players to choose a team captain, while on other occasions, the choice was made by team management. Captains are often chosen due to their seniority in the game and years of service with their current club. However, franchise players—current or emerging stars—have also been named captains.[1]

The rules of the IIHF, NHL and Hockey Canada do not permit goaltenders to be designated as on-ice captains,[2][3] due to the logistical challenge of having the goaltender relay rules discussions between referees and coaches and then return to the crease. The NHL introduced a rule prohibiting the goaltender from being a captain following the 1947–48 season (see § Goaltender captains below). In the NCAA, there is no position-based restriction on the team captain.[5]

Alternate captains

Luc Robitaille in 2005: the "A" is commonly on the left side of the jersey

Teams may designate alternate captains, often erroneously called "assistant captains." Alternate captains wear the letter "A" on their jerseys in the same manner that team captains wear the "C."

In the NHL, teams may appoint a captain and up to two alternate captains, or they may appoint three alternate captains and no captain.[6] A team commonly has three alternate captains when the team has not selected a captain, or when the serving captain is injured and misses a game. International and USA amateur rules do not allow this; they stipulate that "each team shall appoint a Captain and no more than two Alternate Captains."[2] In the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), Western Hockey League (WHL) and minor leagues under the jurisdiction of Hockey Canada, teams are allowed to have a captain with up to three alternate captains.[7][8][9][10] If the team chooses to not appoint a captain, they are not permitted to appoint a fourth alternate captain. When the captain is off the ice or unavailable for the game, any alternate captain on the ice is responsible for fulfilling the captain's official role as liaison to the referees.

NHL teams may choose alternate captains from game to game or appoint regular alternate captains for the season. In North America, alternate captains perform many of the same leadership and team building roles as the captain. In the 1969–70 season, the Boston Bruins had three alternate captains (Johnny Bucyk, Phil Esposito and Ed Westfall) instead of a captain sporting the "C." However, as Bucyk was the most senior of the alternate captains, he was first one to be presented the Stanley Cup when the team won the championship in 1970 and 1972.

In the NCAA, a team can designate a single alternate captain to assume the role of captain, should the captain be unavailable due to injury or penalty.[5]

Designation on uniform

The letter "C" or "A" is attached to the jersey of the team's captain and alternate captains (commonly sewn at higher levels of play, though removable insignia exist so the "C" or "A" designation can be easily changed). The designation is traditionally placed on the left side of the jersey, though the IIHF, NHL and NCAA rules specify only that it must be in a "conspicuous location on the front" of the player's jersey.[2][3][5] Two teams in the NHL have jerseys where the positioning of the crest on the front leaves insufficient space on the left for the letter: the Detroit Red Wings, who place the letter on the right side of the home and road jerseys since the 2007–08 season, and the Buffalo Sabres, who have a third jersey with the captain patch on its left sleeve since the 2013–14 season.

NHL captains


Steve Yzerman served as the captain of the Detroit Red Wings for 20 years (1986–87 to 2005–06) and 1,303 games during that time, the longest term in the history of the NHL by both years and games. Daniel Alfredsson holds the record as the longest-serving European captain serving for 14 years (1999–00 to 2012–13).[11] The Boston Bruins' Ray Bourque was previously the longest-tenured captain in NHL history from 1985–86 to 1999–00, being co-captain for the first three seasons. Brian Bellows was the youngest captain in NHL history, serving as the interim captain of the Minnesota North Stars from January 1984 until May 1984. The youngest permanent NHL captain in history is Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche, who became captain on September 4, 2012, at the age of 19 years and 268 days.[12]

     Player is still active as captain of their team.
Youngest NHL captains
Name Team Birth date Captaincy announced Age at announcement First game as captain Age at first game Type
Bellows, BrianBrian Bellows Minnesota North Stars September 1, 1964 January 10, 1984 19 years, 131 days Interim
Landeskog, GabrielGabriel Landeskog Colorado Avalanche November 23, 1992 September 4, 2012 19 years, 286 days[13] January 19, 2013 20 years, 57 days Permanent
Crosby, SidneySidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins August 7, 1987 May 31, 2007[14] 19 years, 297 days[13] October 5, 2007[15] 20 years, 59 days Permanent
Lecavalier, VincentVincent Lecavalier Tampa Bay Lightning April 21, 1980 March 1, 2000[16] 19 years, 315 days March 1, 2000[17] 19 years, 315 days Permanent
Toews, JonathanJonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks April 29, 1988 July 18, 2008[18] 20 years, 80 days October 10, 2008[19][20][21] 20 years, 164 days Permanent
Yzerman, SteveSteve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings May 9, 1965 October 7, 1986[22] 21 years, 151 days October 9, 1986[23] 21 years, 153 days Permanent
Schoenfeld, JimJim Schoenfeld Buffalo Sabres September 4, 1952 September 1, 1974[24] 21 years, 362 days October 14, 1974[25] 22 years, 40 days Permanent

Table Notes:

An exact date for Brian Bellows' captaincy has not yet been determined. The previous captain, Craig Hartsburg, was injured on January 3, 1984, and Bellows became interim captain shortly thereafter in January 1984.[26]

Stanley Cup Finals

Charlie Gardiner was the first NHL captain born in Europe to lead his team to a Stanley Cup title (1934), Lars-Erik Sjoberg was the first NHL captain born and trained in Europe. Derian Hatcher became the first American-born captain to win the Stanley Cup in 1999. Daniel Alfredsson was the first European-born and trained captain to lead an NHL team to the Stanley Cup Final (2007), while Nicklas Lidstrom was the first captain born and trained in Europe to lead an NHL team to a Stanley Cup title (2008), followed by Zdeno Chara (2011). Mark Messier was the first NHL player to win the Stanley Cup as captain of two different teams: the Edmonton Oilers in 1990 and the New York Rangers in 1994. Sidney Crosby became the youngest captain to win the Stanley Cup in 2009.

Minority captains

Dirk Graham became the first NHL captain of African descent when he was named captain of the Chicago Blackhawks in March 1989.[27] Jarome Iginla, who became captain of the Calgary Flames in 2003, has been cited by ESPN as the first black captain in NHL history.[28]

Goaltender captains

In NHL history, there have been six goaltenders who served as official team captains:

The Hockey Hall of Fame displays a picture of Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Turk Broda wearing the captain's "C," but he never actually served in that capacity, and he was actually wearing Toronto team Captain Syl Apps' sweater.

Prior to the 1948–49 season, the NHL made a change to the rules, prohibiting goalies from being captains or alternate captains. This was in response to complaints from opponents of the Montreal Canadiens, who complained that Durnan left his crease to argue with the referee at strategic points during games, resulting in unscheduled timeouts. This rule is sometimes referred to as the "Durnan Rule."[29]

Although the Canucks appointed goaltender Roberto Luongo as its team captain for the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons, since he could not be his team's official captain during games, Willie Mitchell was the on-ice captain, serving as liaison to the officials, and Henrik Sedin and Mattias Ohlund performed ceremonial aspects of the position such as pre-game faceoffs.[30]

See also

Positions on the hockey rink
Left wing | Centre | Right wing
Left defenceman | Right defenceman
Power forward | Enforcer | Grinder | Pest | Two-way forward | Captain | Head coach | Referee & linesman


  • Duplacey, James (1996). Diamond, Dan, ed. The annotated rules of hockey. Lyons & Burford.  
  1. ^ a b "SI Flashback: Stanley Cup 1997". CNN. 
  2. ^ a b c d International Ice Hockey Federation. "IIHF Rule Book" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d National Hockey League (2007). "National Hockey League Official Rules" (PDF). Triumph Books. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  4. ^ a b "Daryl Sittler's longest year," Frank Orr, Toronto Star, March 16, 1980, p. C3.
  5. ^ a b c National Collegiate Athletic Association (August 2008). 2008–10 NCAA Men's and Women's Ice Hockey Rules and Interpretations. Indianapolis, Indiana: National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 178.  
  6. ^ "Rule 14 Captain of Team". Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  7. ^  
  8. ^  
  9. ^  
  10. ^  
  11. ^ "Steve Yzerman". Archived from the original on April 23, 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-16. 
  12. ^ "Landeskog Named Avalanche Captain". NHL Network. 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
  13. ^ a b "Landeskog Named Avalanche Captain". The Associated Press via Yahoo Sports. 2013-08-15. Retrieved 2013-08-20. Last September, he (Landeskog) became the youngest captain in league history at 19 years, 286 days, 11 days younger than Sidney Crosby was when he was named captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007. 
  14. ^ "CROSBY BECOMES YOUNGEST CAPTAIN IN NHL HISTORY". 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  15. ^ "Pittsburgh Penguins – Recap: Pittsburgh @ Carolina – 10/05/2007". 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  16. ^ "Tampa Bay Lightning History 1999–2000". Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  17. ^ " Game Summary, Game 0888, Wednesday, March 1, 2000, Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning". Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  18. ^ "Toews Named 34th Captain In Team History" (Press release). 2008-07-18. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  19. ^ Burnside, Scott (2008-10-10). "Too young to lead the Blackhawks? Toews says: Bring it on". Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  20. ^ Ziehm, Len (2008-10-10). "5 things Hawks must do on ice to make changes count". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  21. ^ (2008-10-10). "Box Score: Chicago vs. New York Rangers, October 10, 2008". Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  22. ^  
  23. ^ 1986–87 Detroit Red Wings season showing their first game played on October 9, 1986 at the Quebec Nordiques and Steve Yzerman's career stats showing he played in all 80 games that season.
  24. ^ "Class of 1996, Jim Schoenfeld, Buffalo Sabres Defenseman". 2009-04-15. In September 1974, at age 22, Schoenfeld became the NHL's youngest captain... 
  25. ^ "1963 NHL DRAFT PICK, Gerry Meehan". 2009-04-15. Buffalo Captain: October 1971 to Oct. 14, 1974 
  26. ^ "Brian Bellows, 1982 NHL DRAFT PICK". Retrieved 2008-07-18. Became youngest team captain in Minnesota history as a 19-year-old when he filled in for injured Craig Hartsburg after Hartsburg was injured on Jan. 10, 1984. Bellows continued to wear the "C" through the end of 1983–84 season. 
  27. ^ "1979 draft pick – Dirk Graham". Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  28. ^ "Iginla becomes first black captain in NHL history". Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  29. ^ TSN.CA STAFF (2008-09-30). "CANUCKS NAME GOALTENDER LUONGO AS TEAM CAPTAIN". Retrieved 2009-02-23. The Montreal Canadiens' Bill Durnan was the last goaltender to serve as captain in the 1947–48 season. Prior to 1948–49, the NHL passed a rule prohibiting goalies to act as captain or assistants in what could be called the "Durnan Rule." The Canadiens keeper left his crease so much to argue calls that opponents protested saying that Durnan's actions gave the Canadiens unscheduled timeouts during strategic points in games. 
  30. ^ "Next captain of the Canucks is Luongo". 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.