Gabriel Landeskog vs. Other Central Division Captains


He’s going to be, in my mind, the franchise player for a long time. He’s young, but he’s got a good head on his shoulders. I think the organization is in good hands.” — Milan Hejduk about Gabriel Landeskog as captain.

Everyone has a natural age, and Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog’s seems to be 35, maturity-wise. Seriously, the young man is preternaturally poised. Youngest player to be named captain in the NHL, earned co-captain rights with Team Sweden in the Olympics… If Landeskog ever wanted to rule Sweden, he’d be a shoe-in. He just oozes leadership.

Milan Hejda recommended Landeskog for captaincy before the (abbrevieated) 2011-2012 season, when Landeskog was just 19. True, he’s had to look to his elders for some guidance now and again, particularly J.S. Giguere and Paul Stastny. However, he has developed his own leadership style that transcends youth.

So, how does Landy, as the Avs Nation likes to call him, stack up against the other Central Division captains? Let’s take a look.

Gabriel Landeskog vs. Zach Parise, er, Mikko Koivu

Honest mistake — Parise seems more the Minnesota Wild captain than Mikko Koivu. It doesn’t help that I can’t get Mikko straight with his brother Saku, formerly of the Anaheim Ducks.

Like Landy, Koivu has adapted himself to the crash-and-bang style of North American hockey. Not as well as Landeskog, of course — he’s not a power forward in the league of Landy.

Koivu’s apparently a bit… OCD, according to the Denver Post. They didn’t put it quite that way, but by describing how he piles his gloves in a perfect pyramid, takes “extra special” care of his skates and wipes down all his equipment meticulously. You just don’t picture the easy-going Landeskog worrying about the pile his gloves are in — not when there a plethora of young players in his locker room with whom to bond.

Gabriel Landeskog vs. David Backes

St. Louis Blues captain David Backes has a great kindness toward animals. I’m sure Landy likes animals, but no one has ever said he’s birthed kittens in his basement like Backes has.

Animal kingdom aside, Landy is also unlikely to mistake a team’s wonder-rookie for a prize steer at the rodeo like Backes did with MacKinnon. It is true that Landy jumped Minnesota Wild forward Mikko Koivu like he’s been raised on American football. However, Koivu is a grown man and fellow captain of a rival team. Plus, it was the playoffs.

Young as he is, Landy also seems to be a better role model for the younger players. It’s not necessarily Backes’ fault — the St. Louis Blues don’t seem to foster role models.

Gabriel Landeskog vs. Jonathan Toews

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  • Well, Landeskog’s wallet isn’t looking to be quite as fat as Toews’ in the up-coming seasons. Toews, of course, just signed a lucrative contract extension that will eventually see him making $12 million a year. While it’s true Landeskog’s finally going to graduate that (relatively) low starting point of $925,000 to $4.5 million, it’s still not Toews-range.

    Of course, according to Nerd Wallet, Landeskog is mature with his money. (Big surprise.) Thus far, his big purchases have been a Range Rover Sport (Colorado boy to the core) and a condo in Stockholm, Sweden. Granted, Sweden is prohibitively expensive, so that was sure to have set him back a pretty penny, but that’s not a ton for a young man making big bucks.

    Captain-wise, in the playoffs Toews was an über-captain on the ice, scoring goals, setting up plays, laying hits on opponents… wait, couldn’t that have described Landy as well? And Landeskog executed all that with an injured hand.

    I have to go girly for a second because Jonathan Toews attempting to model a suit like a model is just… cute compared to Landy in a suit — especially considering Landeskog was actually scouted as a model.

    Gabriel Landeskog vs.Jamie Benn

    Party boy — that seems to be Dallas Stars captian Jamie Benn’s mojo these days. Yes, it likely has a lot to do with the influence of BFF Tyler Seguin, who was practically ousted from the Boston Bruins due to his party-hearty ways. However, Landeskog’s reaction to turning 21 was, essentially, “Now people will stop calling me a kid.”

    Benn’s also known for his fighting. He even punched Erik Johnson in the face — of which, I do not approve. Anyway, on the ice — and in the penalty box — is where Benn does most of his captaining. And, while Landy has been known to fight and even earn the odd slashing penalty, his leadership is not relegated only to the ice.

    A genius aspect of Landeskog is his brilliance with the press. So many players fall into cliche or say a whole lot about nothing. Not Landy. In typical 21st-century style, he’s adept at the soundbite. One of my favorite quotes came right after a post-Christmas loss to the Chicago Blackhawks:

    "“I’m not the guy to believe in excuses. But looking at the circumstances, we clearly didn’t have the best effort — whether it’s because we didn’t have our legs, or because we ate too many Christmas cookies.”"

    Naturally, Landeskog was a lot more somber after the heart-breaking Game 7 loss in his first-ever playoffs. You can see the shell-shocked look on his face. Yet he was more poised than veterans in similar situations, such as not-the-captain Zach Parise and fellow captain, the snippy Sidney Crosby.

    Gabriel Landeskog vs. Shea Weber

    The Nashville Predators’ Shea Weber’s a stellar captain, make no lie. In the Central Division, he comes closest to being Landeskog’s equal.

    Of course, Weber’s been at it awhile — since 2010. For reference, Landeskog was 17 at the time, living practically on his own in Kitchener, teaching himself how to do housework because he’d need to know how to do that once he made the NHL.

    We’ll call this one a draw.

    Gabriel Landeskog vs. Andrew Ladd

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    I’ve got to throw respect Ladd’s way — he took flak for choosing to spend time with his wife and newly-born daughter. To be honest, I can’t even believe it was a problem. As a professional hockey player, you’re going to play hundreds of games in your career. Even the most prolific, ah, scorer isn’t going to father that many children. And the game he missed wasn’t even a playoff game — not that that should make such a difference.

    Landeskog is unmarried and, as far as we all know, childless. He hasn’t had to make such a tough decision. He’s made tough hockey decisions, though — like when he chose not to fight Milan Lucic, the meanest non-goon in the NHL. (Actually, a lot of goons quake at the thought of fighting Milan Lucic.) He took flak for that decision. Some people called him a coward. I don’t know how anyone can watch Landy’s style of play and call him a coward, but they did.

    Landeskog withstood the heat. He pointed out that he was still recovering from a concussion and didn’t think it was wise to risk a head injury in a fight. He very gallantly did not point out that, as a skill player and team captain, he could have expected someone else to step in with a bruiser like Lucic — like, you know, fello ice-mates Andre Benoit or Corey Sarich. The types of guys who wouldn’t be a huge loss if they were sitting in the penalty box.

    Speaking of that head injury, thanks to a July 1st trade with the San Jose Sharks, Landeskog is now teammates with the guy who caused his concussion, Brad Stuart. Acting with typical poise, Landy immediately tweeted him:

    That was a pretty cute way to make light of the situation.

    So, how does Landeskog stack up against his fellow Central Division captains? Pretty darn well — he’s a poised young man who puts his, ah, b*lls on the table every game, a natural leader with a knack for making anyone feel comfortable. And a whiz with the press. Gabriel Landeskog — I wouldn’t trade him for any other captain. (More on Landy’s captain style.)