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Pettersson: Being named captain ‘would definitely be an honour’

On After Hours, Elias Pettersson said he doesn’t want to “rush into a decision” about the captaincy.
Elias Pettersson speaks to Scott Oake and John Garrett on After Hours on February 19, 2023.

Will Elias Pettersson be the next captain of the Vancouver Canucks?

He has Bo Horvat’s vote , as well as the vote of most Canucks fans. But how does Pettersson feel about the possibility?

During his interview on Hockey Night in Canada’s After Hours program with Scott Oake and John Garrett, Pettersson was asked if he would accept the captaincy if it was offered to him.

“That would definitely be an honour but for me, I don’t want to stress or rush into a decision,” said Pettersson. “I’ve never been a captain. I guess everyone knows, I’m a pretty quiet guy. It would definitely be an honour but I want to take my time thinking about it in the summer and make a decision.”

Pettersson’s point about never being a captain before is an interesting one. It’s true, he’s never worn the captain’s C at any level and, according to the records at Elite Prospects, he’s never even been an alternate captain prior to this season. 

A major reason why is that he was always playing up a level — or several levels — in Sweden, never sticking around in one level for very long to step into a leadership role. At 17, Pettersson was already playing with men in the HockeyAllsvenskan, the second tier of professional hockey in Sweden. He spent his entire 18-year-old season in the HockeyAllsvenskan, then was in the SHL at 19. He wasn’t going to wear a letter at such a young age for those teams.

But even in international competition among his peers, Pettersson has never been a captain. As he says, he’s always been a quiet guy and the captaincy isn’t just about leadership on the ice or in the locker room — it comes with other responsibilities, like communicating with on-ice officials and with the media.

“That’s the thing, I’ve always been that I just want to focus on my game, all about winning and performing my best,” said Pettersson when this aspect of the job was brought up.

A captain, however, can be a quiet person. Henrik Sedin and Markus Naslund weren’t exactly loud but they were respected leaders for the Canucks and Pettersson has the same measured and level-headed approach to interviews.

Besides, actions speak louder than words, which is something head coach Rick Tocchet emphasized after Pettersson played a complete game against the New York Islanders.  

“I talked to Petey — you don’t have to be the loudest guy but if you do it on the ice, that’s loud right there. To me, that’s being loud,” said Tocchet. “Showing your teammates, I’m willing to do whatever. He had two goals tonight too, PK, power play — he led tonight. That’s what leaders do.”

For now, at least, Pettersson agreed with the suggestion that maybe there doesn’t need to be a captain right now.

“There are leaders on the team with Schenner, with Miller, and guys with a voice in the locker room,” he said.

Whether the Canucks have a captain next season is likely up to Pettersson after a summer of reflection.