This off-season has consistently made me say, “Really? That’s surprising…but it makes a whole lot of sense.”
From trading for Ehrhoff’s rights to the Leino signing to the contracts that were signed, I haven’t been right about one prediction and I haven’t disliked a single outcome. So when Lindy Ruff named Jason Pominville the captain of the Sabres, it was yet another moment that I didn’t see coming but that just felt absolutely right. Like when Peter Pan gave the Matrix of Leadership to the fat kid in Hook.
A lot of fans felt underwhelmed by the choice, and it’s because Pommer is kind of the quiet type. In reality, Pominville shows some of the best traits for a team captain and leader; he is consistent, level-headed, and positive. He’s almost always lined up to speak after games or during intermission, and his words always address the need to work harder and stick to the system. Yes, the cliches might get a bit tiresome after a while, but it sure as hell beats a team captain complaining that the opponents are getting away with murder.
The guy is stalwart. Dauntless. Dependable. I had to bust out a thesaurus to really try to hammer home his consistency.
There isn’t evidence that points make a good captain. What does make for a solid leader, though, is continuous hard work. I’d say four seasons where he played every single game, consistent scoring of around 60 points, and a one-year spike of 30 PIM’s as his highest total is pretty staunch. There’s another synonym.
He shows up every game and puts out his effort, and that’s exactly what you want a captain to do. If that’s not there, you have a leader who’s shouting encouraging words from the bench. And that just won’t do any longer.
Pominville is a connection between the seasoned veterans and the youth of the roster. As a “home grown,” drafted player, he has been waived, he’s been to the Conference Finals, and he’s missed the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion. Pominville has a rocket of a shot and he’s had to deal with stretches where he couldn’t hit the net. He’s overcome it. Jason Pominville was here during the leadership vacuum of 2007-2009 and he plugged away, without excessive celebration or frustration, and showed up to do his job every single night.
Even on the incredibly rare occasion when he gets in a fight, he doesn’t lose his cool. In fact he seems to spend the entire time trying to peacefully resolve the issue, and even trying to reason and talk some sense into the NHL’s version of Looney Tunes’ Gossamer.
Oh. And on top of everything else, don’t forget that this is the guy that scored the biggest goal that this team has seen this millennium.
So here’s your team’s captain, Sabres fans. I had a pick for Vanek and Gaustad, and they’re both wearing A’s while I sit here and say, “Oh yeah! Pominville’s such an obvious choice.” The other two aren’t bad choices by any means, but #29 is going to be somewhere in between the two. This will allow Vanek the freedom of just being able to go out there and score, and this will allow Goose to keep doing what has made him my man-crush for six years. Pominville, meanwhile, will flourish and grow under his new role, and this team will benefit because of it.
Besides. That C just looks right on him.
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Topics: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Craig Rivet, Darcy Regier, Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, Eastern Conference, Fansided, Free Agency, Hockey, Jason Pominville, Jhonas Enroth, Lindy Ruff, NHL, Northeast Division, Playoffs, Portland Pirates, Ryan Miller, Sabres, Stanley Cup, Terry Pegula, Thomas Vanek