Who should be the next captain of the Vancouver Canucks?
Elias Pettersson has the vote of his former captain. His general manager has strongly suggested that he could be the next captain too. Most Canucks fans want Pettersson to be the next captain. And now he has the vote of his former coach.
On an appearance with Jackie Redmond on the NHL Network, former Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau was asked about Pettersson's phenomenal season and he, unprompted, suggested that Pettersson will soon be wearing the "C."
"I really believe that he's the future captain of the Vancouver Canucks," said Boudreau. "I could see him grow from last year to this year to even more as he goes on."
New head coach Rick Tocchet has said that he wants Pettersson, as well as Quinn Hughes, in more of a leadership role, expecting them to make the Canucks their team in the future. Both young players have been wearing an "A" as alternate captains since Tocchet took over.
A big reason Boudreau sees him potentially in that role is that he's extremely competitive and embraces everything thrown at him.
"I would come and talk to him every game and I'd say, 'You've got to be the best today. I'm going to play you against this guy,' and he'd say, 'I want the challenge,' because he's so competitive," said Boudreau. "He's such a good player that he'd take anything I'd say and want to show people how good he was."
Pettersson has said that he doesn't want to "rush into a decision" about the captaincy, which some took as a sign that he's reluctant to take on the responsibility and would rather not be the captain. But another way to read those comments from Pettersson is that he really does just want to take his time to consider it. Perhaps he'll come to the conclusion that it's another challenge that he should embrace to show just how good he can be.
How good can Pettersson be? Boudreau had opinions on that, as well as a note on how to motivate the soft-spoken star.
"I think this guy's fabulous and I think he's going to have 120 points — maybe not this year, but in the future, he's going to get that many points," said Boudreau. "With Elias, he's not a guy that likes to be yelled at."
No Canuck has ever put up 120 points in a season. The franchise record is held by Henrik Sedin, who tallied 112 points in the 2009-10 season, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer, as well as the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player. Pettersson is currently on pace for 104 points this season, which would tie Markus Näslund and Daniel Sedin for the fifth-best season in Canucks history.
The comment about Pettersson not liking to be yelled at is an interesting one. Some athletes are motivated by yelling — it gets them fired up. Other players just feel disrespected by yelling or it can cause their confidence to sink, backfiring on a coach who is trying to get the best out of a player.
One of the most important things for a coach is to learn what motivates each individual player. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work. For Pettersson, he evidently prefers a more conversational approach. He wants to be challenged, yes, but not yelled at.