The best captain in the NHL is a conversation that is frequently brought up by fans all over, but who is the worst captain? Mac Bass and Braden Bosman go head to head with their picks.
Bass: Dustin Brown may have two Stanley Cups as captain of the Los Angeles Kings, but he's far from the reason for those championships. He has been declining steadily over the last three seasons and doesn't seem to be bouncing back anytime soon. He did have a good season during their first cup run and championship, but everyone who watched those playoffs knows that Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar were the real leaders of that team (and still are). Brown is overpaid and is on his way to becoming the next Mike Richards for the Kings.
Bosman: At least he’s captained a team to some sort of respectability. I'm throwing in my bid for Dion Phaneuf. Ever since he came over from the Calgary Flames he’s been an endless flounder. Bad defensive plays, questionable at the opponents blue-line. He doesn’t lead on the ice or off. Even his physical play has tapered off to almost a non existence. The goalies in Toronto have been good enough. Not good enough to take the Toronto Maple Leafs anywhere but they’ve held up their end, Dion needs to rally the troops and take control in the defensive end.
Bass: Phaneuf is pretty bad as well, but he's by no means had the team around him like Brown has had. Brown is able to play a third line role with no pressure versus Phaneuf who is expected to be a top pairing defenseman. Although Phaneuf has majorly dropped off from his Calgary days, it's not exactly a fair comparison because with a good team around him he has shown he's a capable leader. That was back in Calgary, but Toronto has never been a good team since his arrival. Brown was handed the captaincy because there were really no other players on the roster at the time and Anze Kopitar didn't seem to be completely ready. It's obvious now that Kopitar would be the best captain and he's the one who really deserved to touch the cups first.
Bosman: Brown may not be worth his contract, but at least he’s gone to battle in the playoffs. He can pose as a threat along the boards with his physical play. Phaneuf was a main cause in the elimination of the Toronto Maple Leafs when they lost to the Boston Bruins after that collapse in the third period. Everyone remembers that series. He’s never been able to get his team to bound together and pull out a decent regular season campaign let alone a playoff adventure. He isn’t worth the price tag and was voted the most overrated player in the NHL by his peers in back to back years. (2011-2012)
Bass: These are both two pretty bad captains, but Brown has become a player that is practically useless on the ice. His decline has been much worse than Phaneuf’s. Brown’s best season was a 60 point campaign in 2007-08. Since then, he has declined to back to back 27 point seasons in the last two seasons. Last year, Brown was a minus 17. Phaneuf has also declined, but not quite as bad as Brown. Phaneuf's best season was also a 60 point campaign in 2007-08. Phaneuf’s last two seasons were statistically better than Brown’s, and he’s a defenseman. Phaneuf had 29 points in 70 games last year which would have given him around 34 points if he played all 82 games. He was a minus 11. The year before, he had 31 points in 80 games. There is not a night and day difference between Brown and Phaneuf’s production, but Phaneuf has better numbers with less opportunity since he is a defenseman. Most teams would rather have Phaneuf since he will at least produce more and bring a feared presence on the blueline. This season, Brown has six points (only 1 goal as a forward who often plays with superstar Anze Kopitar) in 16 games with a minus two rating. Phaneuf has one goal as well, but nine points total with a plus-two rating with a much worse team around him. These are both two of the worst leaders in hockey and Phaneuf may be the more obvious choice since he lacks the Stanley Cup rings, but Brown is still the worst based on everything else.
Bosman: The eye ball test shows Phaneuf’s production hasn’t just declined statistically, but physically. What you call a towering defensemen, the rest of the league see’s a man who has lost all pride and and determination in his game. His lack of physicality is scary. For his size and past reputation he should be scary to play against. The game has gotten too fast and the players are too good. His snail speed is a detriment on the blueline and his leadership qualities are non existent. A leader doesn’t always have to put up huge numbers, but how he carries himself and changes the mood in the locker room when the chips are down are key. A big hit can change the momentum of a game. Toronto’s season high in hits was against Winnipeg, Phaneuf didn’t register a single hit. His captaincy isn’t earned, it was gifted. He hasn’t been worth his stick since he moved from Calgary to Toronto and his play has shown it. Brown at least shows up for his team's games and grinds in the corners and makes room for players like the Kopitar-type and the Toffoli-type. His skill set isn’t a point producer, it’d be unfair to expect 60 points continually and that’s why he isn’t. Phaneuf was supposed to be a big time player for the Leafs but instead has become an anchor.
Who's your pick for the worst captain in the league?