Written by Habsterix, Senior Writer, AllHabs.net

“As a captain, I think it’s important that the players really know who you are and what you stand for, what your beliefs are, and to be consistent in those if things are going good or things are going bad.”
~ Mark Messier

PENTICTON, BC. – I was killing time this week, reading all sorts of conversations and topics on Twitter, when one caught my attention. Some people, including good friends and members of the All Habs team, were casually discussing the topic of captaincy with the Canadiens. Some were suggesting that perhaps, with an adjustment to the direction of the team, a new captain might be in order. Others were taking the stance that Brian Gionta was not the problem and should be kept as the team’s captain.

No matter which side of the debate one might be sitting, I find very interesting to see such debates when it’s done in a mature and respectful manner, just like the one on Twitter the other day. Following this interesting discussion, I thought that it would be interesting to throw it out there to my followers by simply asking them who would like to see a change in leadership on the team, as opposed to keeping the status quo. To make things even more interesting, I even threw in a third option, offering to keep Gionta but to strip him of the captaincy and giving it to someone else on the team. Thankfully, not one single person chose that option, and like yours truly, people felt like doing so would prove very disrespectful to the player and such move would not help the relationship between players and management.

As votes came in, the results were kept very close for the most part but at the end of it all, I stopped the poll after receiving somewhere between 50 to 60 replies. Of those votes, approximately 65 per cent opted to keep Brian Gionta as team captain, with the other 35 per cent either wanting him traded at all costs (by some), or people feeling like he should be traded for a bigger player if the deal was right. Interesting, isn’t it?

Amongst the group of fans who would like to see Marc Bergevin put Gionta’s name on the market, many justified it by saying that the organization might want to complete the changes initiated, as he was appointed team captain by Jacques Martin and not by the players in place. Granted, most people also acknowledged that they did not know how the players in the dressing room felt about Gionta, whether it’s as a captain or as a leader.

Some have suggested that he could potentially be an interesting piece offered in a package for a more major trade to see the Canadiens acquire a bigger, meaner and/or younger top six forward who might be available on the market. Of course, mentioned were the usual suspects like Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan, but fans also pointed to a guy like Ryane Clowe in San Jose. Either way, the name of the player targeted is somewhat irrelevant as the concept of trading the captain for what they would consider an improvement is the point here.

While I can certainly see and respect those arguments, I personally would rather keep Brian Gionta in Montreal as the team’s captain. Looking at what Marc Bergevin and his team are basing their decisions on, they want character players. How much more character can you get than coming from a guy who has been told his entire life that he was too small to make it to the big show? Looking at Gionta’s style of play, in spite of his 5-foot-7, 173 pound frame, he drives the net hard (ask the Leafs how James Reimer is doing.) Gionta digs in the corners, he parks himself in front of the net on the powerplay and he takes bumps and bruises as proven by having played 61 games or more in seven of his last eight seasons.

Further, Gionta will be there for you when it counts, in the playoffs. Since signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Canadiens in the summer of 2009, Gionta has played 200 games for his new team, playoffs included. He has registered 127 points, 77 of them were goals, more than anyone on the team for that period. In the playoffs alone wearing the red, white and blue, he has scored 12 goals and registered 20 points in 26 games.

If, as stated by Mark Messier, the players need to know who the captain is and what he stands for, in good times and in bad, there is little doubt in my mind that anyone in the Canadiens’ dressing room who doesn’t know that about Brian Gionta.

What’s your take?

En français: Oh mon capitaine

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J.D. is a Senior writer for All Habs as well as Associate-Editor for the French version Le Magazine All Habs, while one of three Administrators of the fan forum Les Fantômes du Forum. He has created the handle Habsterix as a fictional character for the sole purpose of the internet. It is based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule and his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992 from his home town of Sherbrooke, Quebec, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement.
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J.D. est Rédacteur-Adjoint sur Le Magazine All Habs et il est un Rédacteur Principal sur le site anglophone All Habs, tout en étant un des trois Administrateurs du forum de discussion Les Fantômes du Forum. Il a créé le pseudonyme Habstérix comme caractère fictif pour l’internet. Celui-ci est basé sur Astérix de Gaule et sa potion magique est sa passion pour les Canadiens de Montréal. Lorsqu’il est né, Jean Béliveau soulevait la Coupe Stanley et il se rappelle des jours où gagner n’était pas un espoir, mais une attente. Pour lui, écrire est un passe-temps, pas une profession. Ayant déménagé dans la superbe Colombie-Britannique en 1992 en provenance de sa ville natale de Sherbrooke, Québec, il a commencé à écrire en français pour garder sa grammaire, jusqu’à ce que ses amis anglophones ne réussissent à le convaincre d’avoir son blog en anglais. Son épouse vous dira qu’il est têtu, mais elle sera la première à reconnaître son grand sens de l’humour. Il est toujours fier de partager avec vous, lecteurs et lectrices, ses points de vue sur différents sujets, et quoi que les gens ne s’entendent pas toujours sur ceux-ci, le respect des opinions et des autres est son énoncé de mission.

  • Jay

    Gionta is in the same echelon as Koivu. In all honesty, Koivu went through thrilling and character building events as a Hab, and I in no way equate cancer with torn biceps, but overcoming illness and injury are nothing if not character building.
    These lil guys put out their best efforts, and as much as Koivu was here quite a bit longer, I believe the mettle Gionta has should dismiss any chatter about him being dealt.
    The health of this team is somewhat determined by the strength and determination of the leaders in the locker room. And as much as I have never been in there, not alone when the team is, I do believe the Habs brass chose right when they put the C on Gionta’s shoulder. His contract isn’t up, he hasn’t shown anything but pride and determination the whole while he’s been on the ice. As much as many believe in the bigger,badder, better model of team development, I for one am fine with the stature of the Habs players.
    My last comment is about the bigger, supposed better, we got in return for a spark plug who signed the same time as Gio, Bourque. Now this guy cannot handle Gio’s shadow. I have no issue if MB decides that Bourque is expendable. You can’t come to the Habs and saunter through a season. Where’s the guy’s pride? Younger I can understand but Cammalleri was a playoff wonder. Given the status of the team, the youth and talent in the wings, Cammalleri would have been much more beneficial for teaching the Gallagher’s, Collberg’s about there place in the NHL. I digress….

    Gio sticks out his contract with the C… proves the naysayers that he was deserving.

  • don

    good write-up.

    Gionta is a fine captain and leads by example. Would i be heartbroken if traded, no.
    Or if Captaincy given to Gorges, would be fine.
    Or if Gionta went in a trade, that would also be fine

    Mainly because we seem to have 1 too many “smallish” top six guys, with Gallagher on the way also, likely next season, we need to make room.

  • Casey

    Anyone curious about the Gionta and Gomez connection?

    We know the positives that Gionta brings. He plays bigger than he is, he can score, he is great defensively, and he is a leader.

    We also know the negatives. He is not getting any younger. He is small. He was part of the old regime.

    I like Gionta, and it won’t annoy me to see him play as a hab for the rest of his contract. It also wouldn’t annoy me to see us trade him to improve the team. Ryane Clowe does appeal.

    But I’m curious. Do you think it is harder to deal with Gomez as long as Gionta is there?

  • Jay

    The issues with the Habs past couple of seasons hasn’t been size. Look at the Playoffs and tell me they didn’t play well. Injury to major player has been a major issue. HEalthy this team can do wonders. I know there hasn’t been a lot of talk about another top 6 forward, but to shlep off Gio for a Ryan Clowe would be an error in judgement. MB did what he felt needed to be done to bring in more grit and size, and while I am an amateur armchair GM at best, I disagree. Paying 6 million for your 4th line makes no sense. Bringing in a Clowe doesn’t change the fact that we need another scoring forward. We have White,Moen, Armstrong, Prust that are all big and brutish, we don’t need another grinder.
    As we note that there is a chance that Gallagher gets some time in MTL, and LeBlanc needs a place (well deserved) so, there are a lot of guys we need to figure out. Adding further confusion to the already mixed bowl of nuts isn’t required.
    I’d hate to see talent be watered down for physicality.

    • V. Thibault

      I put Gionta in the mold of Koivu and Henri Richard, small players with character, heart, and the desire to win. They are leaders who are positive additions to a team locker room. I keep Gionta as Captain of the team. I would only consider trading him after first speaking to him and if the trade really, really improved the team.

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