Could the Boston Bruins decide to go without an official captain and do a captain-by-committee for the 2023-24 season?
Ever since Patrice Bergeron retired, the common belief amongst media and fans is that either veteran winger Brad Marchand or cornerstone defenseman Charlie McAvoy will become the 21st captain in franchise history. However, as my media colleagues Joe McDonald (Providence Journal) and Scott McLaughlin (WEEI) were discussing at the Bruins Centennial Committee selection of the all-time Bruins team on Thursday, don’t be surprised if the Bruins decide to go with three to four alternate captains instead of the traditional one captain and two to three alternates.
In fact, one has to wonder if Brad Marchand was hinting at this possibility earlier this week when discussing the captaincy with reporters.
“It’s not something that I really think about too much. You know, obviously, it’s a big honor to be in the leadership group in this organization…You know we have always done it collectively as a group, so regardless of who wears it, it’s a collective thing. Even guys without letters step up,” Marchand pointed out. “The torch gets passed down. When it’s time to kind of lead the way, you got to do it. Same thing is going to go for Chucky [McAvoy], Pasta [Pastrnak], Brando [Carlo], and Lindy [Lindholm] at different times as well. So, we’ll all do it at different points throughout the year, and when it’s your turn, you got to step up.”
As Marchand pointed out, it will take a village to replace the leadership that Bergeron provided for so long as an alternate captain under captain Zdeno Chara and even more so as the captain for the last three seasons.
“His presence around the room, the gym, and on the ice. You can’t replace that,” Marchand acknowledged. “You know it will be a lot different this year. You say that as we go on it might get a little more comfortable, it might be more difficult. Those big moments where he normally steps up and controls things. It will be a little bit different, but something that we will all work through together.”
This wouldn’t be the first time the Boston Bruins have gone this route. The last time came in the 2005-06 season after the Bruins stunned the hockey world and traded their captain and eventual 2006 Hart Trophy winner, Joe Thornton, to the San Jose Sharks. After Thornton was dealt to the Sharks for forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau, as well as defenseman Brad Stuart on Nov. 30, 2005, the team simply had three alternates in Glen Murray, Hal Gill, and Brian Leetch, lead the way.
The last time the Bruins went an entire season with no captain was in the 2001-02 season when alternate captains Thornton, Billy Guerin, Martin Lapointe, and current Bruins general manager Don Sweeney shared the load.
Here’s something that younger Boston Bruins fans may not know and that may change the minds of those laughing at me thinking this captain-by-committee could happen this season:
From the 1967-68 through the 1972-73 seasons, the Boston Bruins did not have a captain. That includes the 1969-70 and 1971-72 Stanley Cup teams. So twice, the Bruins were able to hoist the Stanley Cup without a player wearing the ‘C.’
If the 2023-24 Bruins go the committee route, it will include the players Marchand referenced above: McAvoy, Pastrnak, Carlo, Lindholm, and Marchand himself. I also think veteran wingers Milan Lucic and Jake DeBrusk, as well as center Charlie Coyle, would eventually wear the ‘A’ on their jerseys.
The answer to this burning question likely won’t be revealed until after the preseason, but the feel here is Marchand or McAvoy aren’t the only answers.