When Bo Horvat was named the 14th captain of the Vancouver Canucks, it was with great fanfare at the home opener for their 50th anniversary season. Both the team's first captain, Orland Kurtenbach, and most recent captain, Henrik Sedin, were on the ice to hand Horvat the "C" in front of a sellout crowd of screaming Canucks fans, including Horvat's parents.
When Quinn Hughes was named the 15th captain of the Canucks, it was with a press release at 8:15 a.m. on a Monday morning, ten days before the start of training camp.
Both announcements seemed inevitable. Horvat was the heir apparent to the captaincy right from when he was drafted, while it became increasingly clear in recent months that Hughes, and not Elias Pettersson or J.T. Miller, would be Horvat's successor.
So, why didn't the Canucks wait to make the announcement in a more exciting way for the fans? Where was the fanfare, pomp, and/or circumstance?
The Canucks will surely still have some sort of ceremony when the season begins to celebrate Hughes being named captain but the entire announcement still feels anticlimactic.
But perhaps that's the point.
Maybe an anticlimactic Monday morning announcement of Hughes as captain is sending a signal to the team and the fanbase that there's no time for fanfare or ceremony — it's time to get down to business.
Announcing Hughes as captain ahead of training camp removes a potential distraction for a team that wants to be as prepared as possible for the start of the season. One of the big stories heading into the season has now been neatly wrapped up with no room for speculation — Quinn Hughes is the captain of the Canucks, let's move on.
A lack of fanfare also fits with Hughes's quiet, laidback personality. Not that Horvat craved the spotlight but perhaps that Canucks team, which had missed the playoffs for four-straight seasons, needed some fanfare to get the Canucks excited. These days, the only thing that will get Canucks fans excited is winning some hockey games.
Hughes is the first American to be named captain of the Canucks and the first defenceman since Doug Lidster was co-captain for one season with Trevor Linden and Dan Quinn. He grew leaps and bounds as a leader last season. Already a leader by example on and off the ice, he pushed himself to be more vocal in the locker room, both to grow as a person and to push his teammates to improve.
“I don’t go in [the room] very often after a game but a couple of players tell me that Hughes is pretty vocal and he wasn’t three months ago, he was a little more quiet,” said head coach Rick Tocchet towards the end of the season. “I think he’s taken that personally, that he wants to be a vocal guy in the room. His personality — he’s not a big talker — but for him to get out of his comfort zone is huge for our team.”
What likely cemented his status as the next captain is when he spoke up to Tocchet at times, acting as a go-between for the players and coaching staff — an essential role for a captain. Tocchet talked about that aspect on the Missin Curfew podcast during the summer.
"He’s done some things that are uncomfortable. He’s said some things that are uncomfortable that you have to do to say to teammates, or to a coach, or to put your balls on the line. That’s what captains do," said Tocchet. “It’s not just about organizing a team party. It’s about putting your teammates first and also being able to go into a coach’s office and say, ‘Hey man, Tocc, you gotta back off in practice, I’ve got this. I guarantee the next game, we’ll be ready to play.’ I love that about him.”
So, that's it. Quietly, and with no fanfare, Quinn Hughes is the captain of the Vancouver Canucks.