Jacques has his man
After spending 2009-10 without a captain for the first season in franchise history, the Canadiens unveiled what the players and management have known for some time: Gionta is the team’s leader. While it may have taken a year for the “C” to be stitched to his jersey, according to Martin, it was really only a matter of time.
“A captain is someone who is respected and who respects his teammates, the organization and the media. He's also someone with maturity and someone who has won before. Brian has all of those things and he won a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2003,” described the second-year Habs coach. “He’s a family man who is very mature and who chose to establish himself in this market. He bought a house here and his kids go to French school.”
While many might have instead preferred seeing a captain named to replace departed leader Saku Koivu at the start of last season, Martin knows that Gionta’s new appointment was worth the wait.
“A lot of leaders left the team before the start of last season,” explained Martin. “With all the new players coming into the team, it was difficult to establish who the leaders were in just two or three weeks of training camp. I preferred to wait than to choose someone who maybe wasn’t the right choice. The organization and the players know we made the right decision.”
If the regular season gave Gionta an opportunity to showcase his leadership skills, the playoffs all but sealed the deal.
“It was a continuous process that took place throughout last year and Brain stood out,” said Martin. “I met with him as I did with all our returning leaders to discuss the captaincy. We made the right choice.”
With just one preseason game in front of the Bell Centre faithful still left on the docket and the first home game of 2010-11 not slated until October 13, the Habs knew there was no time like the present to make it official.
“We chose to do it now because we’re about to go on the road and we wanted to give the media a chance to speak to him about it and for him to play a game in front of our fans,” explained Martin. “Brian will play tomorrow night against the Sabres. And he’ll be wearing the ‘C’.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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