After months of heavy speculation and excited debates, the Vancouver Canucks have named their newest team captain. In an announcement that came today shortly after 8 am Vancouver time, the team informed the hockey world that Quinn Hughes would take over the role as the newest team captain of the Vancouver Canucks.
The news comes after months of debate that followed the departure of the previous Canucks captain Bo Horvat after a trade sent Horvat to the New York Islanders in January. People everywhere wondered: Would it be Elias Pettersson? Will J.T. Miller assume the role? Could it be Quinn Hughes? Now the speculation can be put to rest: Quinn Hughes will be the 15th captain in Canucks team history.
The team’s announcement came without ceremony; instead, the Canucks opted for a quiet captaincy announcement and follow-up press conference. When asked about the lack of fanfare surrounding the news, Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin said, “We wanted to get off to a fresh start here. Turning the page and kind of building on the momentum from last year, and that’s why we wanted to embrace a new leadership group and captain prior to training camp.”
For many, Quinn Hughes appeared to be the obvious choice. Once approached with the question of becoming team captain, it seemed as if Hughes’ on-ice presence became larger than it already was. This was all but confirmed by Head Coach Rick Tocchet in a podcast interview earlier in the off-season. Appearing on the Missing Curfew podcast, Coach Tocchet spoke to the leadership role Hughes had taken in the Vancouver locker room. “Huggy has really kind of made that trajectory to be a captain. He’s done some things that are uncomfortable. He’s said some things that are uncomfortable. [Things] 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.”
In the press conference following the announcement, Tocchet doubled down on those sentiments saying, “He’s said some uncomfortable things that he’s had to say. If something didn’t go well, or if he had to even put himself out there. That’s why I really like this leadership group and Huggy, they’re not afraid to say something to me. That was important to me making that decision. So for me, I’m excited. Huggy is our captain. He’s got all the qualities, and he’s still learning, which is great.”
Hughes’ on-ice performance is already indicative of a leader. Since joining the Canucks roster five years ago, Quinn Hughes has taken it upon himself to rewrite the Canucks’ history books. A Calder Trophy finalist in the 2019-20 season, Hughes has dominated both league and franchise stats columns. During the 2021-22 season, he broke the franchise record for most points in a single season by a defenseman with 64 points – a record Lidster set in the 1986-87 season with 63 points. In March, the 23-year-old set a new record for the NHL, becoming the fastest defenseman in league history to reach 200 career assists.
“It means a great deal to me, especially being in a Canadian market. When I moved here five years ago and started playing for the Canucks I knew right away what a hockey market it is and how important hockey is to the city and the market, the people in Vancouver. To now be the Captain it’s an incredible honor, something that I never even dreamed of, and I’m going to try my best,” commented Hughes at today’s press event.
Hughes now becomes the first player to don the C since Bo Horvat vacated the captaincy upon the trade that sent him to the Islanders eight months ago. With the honor, Hughes is now the first American to captain the Canucks, becoming the first captain in franchise history to not be a Canadian or Swedish hockey player. He also becomes the first defenseman to take over the captaincy full-time since Kevin McCarthy had the C back in the early 1980s. Defenseman Doug Lidster co-captained the team with Trevor Linden and Dan Quinn during the 1990-91 season.
When asked about how he plans to lead the team, Hughes stated, “I think that I’m never going to be the loudest guy in the room. I’m gonna be a guy that can hopefully be a leader through my work ethic and in the games. As time goes on, I’ll learn more and more about myself and being a leader.”
He got a chance to display that leadership though, as when Hughes was asked what the team needs in order to be a competitive one in years to come, he gave a very determined answer, “I think we’ve done our job up to this point, coming into camp two, three weeks early and trying to get together as a group. Training hard, and getting ready for camp. Just worrying about the first game of the season. I think that’s all we need to do.” A mature and dialed-in response from the Canucks’ newest captain.
Captain Quinn Hughes and the Vancouver Canucks are set to begin the regular season on October 11th.