Leading the team



Watching last night’s game between the Canucks and Edmonton convinced me to speak out about a thought that has been percolating in my mind over the last few weeks. Markus Naslund, so often maligned in Vancouver for his alleged lack of leadership (myself included among his critics), is earning that letter over his heart.

Of course, he does not score the way he once did. Nevertheless, he is still a potent offensive force. Most importantly, he looks dangerous when he has the puck, something he did not over much of the last two seasons when he often seemed tentative and unsure of himself with it.

What stands out for me, though, is the way Naslund seems to carry himself on the ice. He seems elated when he or his linemates score; he vociferously argues with the referees after dubious calls; he stands up for himself in the scrums after the whistle; and, perhaps most surprisingly, he is quick to dish out an earful to opposing players.

On the last point, take last night’s win over the Oilers as an illustrative example. When Ethan Moreau came over to jaw at the Canucks bench after a scrum, Naslund immediately stepped up and let him have it. This is not something I recall the Naslund of 2006-07 or 2005-06 ever doing.

For me, this is indicative of Naslund taking the reigns of leadership on the ice. It is one thing for a captain to have to answer the bell in post-game interviews (something Naslund has, admittedly, never shied away from). Yet, it is quite another for a captain to lead between the opening puck drop and the final whistle.

My suspicion is that Naslund’s seeming unwillingness to do the latter has generated a lot of the criticism he has received during his tenure as captain.

Fortunately, for Canucks fans, something has instigated a changed in Naslund’s demeanour. And that bodes well for this team come playoff time.

2 Responses to “Leading the team”

  1. 1 Emmett February 17, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Agreed. On a related point, Don Cherry went on another rant about how all the good teams are the ones with a majority of Canadian players. While I would (obviously) support Canadians as “the best” when it comes to world tournaments or the Olympics, it’s hard to take commentators who say Europeans don’t make good captains (as an example) seriously, particularly when you see how Naslund has played and acted this season, not to mention other very good captains like Saku Koivu or even Alfredsson.

    Nadlund’s turnaround also seems similar to Alexei Kovalev’s – both seem to be playing with much more intensity and passion – and both seem to be much more physical as well…

  1. 1 Matters are becoming clear « The Vancouver Viewpoint Trackback on March 18, 2008 at 8:21 am

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