As I was sitting at the bar Friday night watching the Detroit Red Wings 4-0 thrashing of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a discussion began between a few friends and myself that raised a question no one really seemed to know the answer to. When Henrik Zetterberg retires, who will be next in line on the Red Wings to wear the captain’s ‘C’? For years that question never existed here in Detroit because we all knew who was next in line. Lidstrom was the obvious choice after Yzerman and Zetterberg was the obvious choice after Lidstrom.
With the Red Wings current youth movement, there is no clear cut favorite for who will succeed Zetterberg when he finally does decide to retire. Zetterberg is currently 35 years old so the desire to retire may come sooner rather than later. Both Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk are 34 and 37 respectively and will most likely be retiring in a few years as well. This leaves the next generation of leaders to take over the vacant captain’s role sometime within the next five years most likely. Who will it be? We asked a few of our DSN staff members their thoughts on who will take over for Z once he is gone.
Brett D’Angelo: The most likely candidate in my eyes would have to be Justin Abdelkader considering how much he has grown in the past few seasons. Abdelkader has become a player who is not afraid to stand up for his teammates when needed and you will always find him in the middle of a scrum. Being from the west side of the state and an alumni of Michigan State makes him a hometown favorite and one that fans will get behind in future years.
Nate’n Webb: I think Abdelkader would be a great candidate to take over the captaincy. By time Zetterberg retires, Abby will be a seasoned veteran with quite a few seasons under his belt in the Wings organization, and a great understanding of the Detroit system. He already shows good leadership skills with the younger players that can easily translate to the rest of the team, and has the exact work ethic that you want out of your leadership roles. He shows up every game and puts his all into every minute he plays. Having a hometown boy as the captain also helps to instill a further sense of fan pride in their team.
Derek Carnevale: I have a feeling that when Zetterberg retires, Dylan Larkin will take over the reigns as the next captain. I know it is very early in his NHL career, but Larkin seems to possess the maturity and attitude to eventually lead this team. I really think that we are in the process of watching a a future NHL star develop. One of the advantages of him making the Red Wings squad at such a young age, is that he will still have a few years to learn how to be a leader by observing the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Niklas Kronwall. You combine this learned knowledge with the amount of skill and drive that this kid has, I see no reason why he won’t be wearing the “C” on his jersey when the time comes to name a new captain.