A National Hockey League franchise has just made the seemingly increasingly rare decision to strip their current captain of the organization's captaincy as they begin to look towards their long term future. According to a breaking announcement from the Florida Panthers organization the team has stripped current captain Derek MacKenzie of the captaincy and have immediately pegged franchise forward Aleksander Barkov as his new replacement.
The move seems to be a no-brainer in many ways and some may even feel that the move may have been a few seasons too late in the making. It's no secret that the appointment of MacKenzie as captain in the 2016-2017 season was viewed as a rather underwhelming announcement and many have long believed that MacKenzie was one of the most confusing captains in the entire National Hockey League. Now that's not to say that the 37 year old veteran center was unfit to be an NHL captain, after all none of us outside of the Florida Panthers' locker room really know just what kind of leadership and intangibles he brings to the table in that dressing room, but in terms of raw talent on the ice you would certainly have to consider him one of the weaker picks.
In spite of the fact that he played nearly every game over the course of his two seasons as Panther's captain MacKenzie has racked up just 9 total goals and 21 total assists ovet those two seasons and that ammounts to just 30 total points over the courser of two years of NHL hockey. Add to that the fact he was a minus player in each of those seasons, -7 in 2016 - 2017 and -9 in 2017 - 2018 and you can begin to understand why many fans in Florida felt that a more valuable player should have been awarded the "C" over MacKenzie himself.
That however will no longer be an issue under the leadership of 23 year old star center Aleksander Barkov who has long since been considered the very best player on the Panthers roster. In spite of the fact that he has played in 17 fewer games than MacKenzie over the past two seasons Barkob has produced significantly more on the offensive side of the ice, recording 48 goals and 82 assists for a total of 130 points over the past two years, light years ahead of the numbers produced by MacKenzie. There are some who feel that Barkov's talent alone should have been enough to propel him to the captaincy earlier but clearly the Panthers' wanted a chance to further mold their young star before awarding him the honor.
At 23 years of age Barkov is now considered by many to be the National Hockey League's best Finnish player and he now joins other former greats from that country like Mikko Koivu, Saku Koivu, Teppo Numminen, Kimmo Timonen, Olli Jokinen & Teemu Selänne as Finnish players to have earned a captaincy in the National Hockey League. This is obviously a huge moment in Barkov's career and the Panther's have released a nice video in order to commemorate today's major announcement.
Photo Credit: Keystone Press