Gabriel Landeskog And The Captaincy

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Gabriel Landeskog
Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports /

Why The Avalanche Could Use A New Captain

We talked about the captain’s responsibility of setting the effort bar earlier, and I’d like to quickly expand on that thought. There are some fans who believe that players are paid well to play the game at a high level and their motivation should be doing their job and earning their pay check. There are others who believe that it falls on to the coach to motivate his players-using positive or negative methods- to perform. Lastly, there are some who believe it falls on the captain to make sure the entire team is ready to go night in and night out.

If you are of the last mindset, there’s no question that Landeskog has not delivered this season. The Avalanche have come out looking bored and unfocused on numerous occasions this year. And although he’s creating a great environment apparently, it hasn’t motivated the Avalanche enough to play an 82 game season.

And part of the reason is Landeskog himself doesn’t bring it night in and night out. Even if the players look up to him and respect him and want to play for him, Landy hasn’t been consistent in his effort. In fact two distinct occasions come to mind where the team failed to put forth effort and Landeskog was right in the middle of the play.

In the first loss of the year I ripped Landeskog for standing idly by as Zach Parise stood on the back door wide open where he would pot the first goal of their comeback.

And recently I was extremely frustrated with Landeskog’s effort on this Patrick Kane goal:

All it takes is Landy taking one stride and bodying up on Kane to prevent that goal. Instead he does a one handed sweep and decides it’s someone else’s problem. True there were 3 people who had the opportunity to put a body on Kane in the play, but only one of them wears a “C” on his chest.

In addition, I have been annoyed this year with some of Gabriel Landeskog’s antics on the ice. I live in Minnesota, so I hear a lot of dumb stuff about the Avs, but one thing I’ve heard more and more is that Landy is a cheap player. Now I would disagree with that. I don’t think he’s a dirty player, and he certainly doesn’t have a lengthy suspension history.

However, he has taken a lot of dumb penalties this year (especially against the Wild). In fact when the game winning goal was scored against the Avalanche in the season opener Landy was in the box for an incredibly stupid interference penalty. At times he looks like Cody McLeod out there-constantly barking at players and ref’s and starting scrum after the play.

I don’t know if Landeskog is unaware that the Avalanche have Cody McLeod on the roster almost specifically for that reason, or if he just gets caught up in the moment. But it’s incredibly aggravating to see him lose focus on, you know, out-scoring the opponent to start little scraps — especially when he’s on the ice with Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, the last two players on the team I want drawn into scrums or brawls.

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And although in the last slide I talked about how great Landy is off the ice is as captain, the ice is where it matters. Is it great that Landeskog’s created a supportive inclusive environment? Of course, I would love for every Avalanche player to be the best man at everyone’s’ weddings and go on California Vineyard tours.

But I care more about them doing their job on the ice, and that’s where I think Landeskog’s performance has been questionable. The effort from the team, and from him isn’t always there. And what kind of message is taking dumb penalties and focusing more on scrums and trash talking sending to the rest of the team?

The last argument I have for Landeskog losing his “C” is twofold. I have left him off of all my trade possibility pieces because of his captaincy. However, if he were to be traded, obviously losing the C in the process, the Avs could gain some much needed upgrades in addition to not rocking the boat too hard.

If you ignore the captaincy I think Landeskog is by far the most disposable, valuable asset the Avalanche have to trade. Add in the fact that it would allow the captaincy to be granted to Nathan MacKinnon — who spent the off season training to make himself bigger and stronger — and I can see it almost becoming enticing to trade Landy.