How Will the Blackhawks Leadership Group Shake Out This Season?

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How Will the Blackhawks Leadership Group Shake Out This Season?

Chicago Blackhawks

For the first time in a long time, there’s actually room for some debate on the leadership group for the Chicago Blackhawks.

For the longest time, players like Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa, among others, were the clear-cut heads of the locker room. Now, the only two that remain are Toews and Kane, with Toews having missed all of last season and his health status for the 2021-22 season not certain, but looking optimistic.

Given the roster turnover the team has experienced in the last few years, even just the last few weeks, there is open interpretation to which players are now going to be the leading voices on the ice and in the locker room.

Last season, the Blackhawks did not name a replacement captain for Toews. Rather, they had Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane wearing the “A” as two alternate captains for the team, along with Connor Murphy (away games) and Alex DeBrincat (home games) splitting time wearing a third “A” letter. Without Keith and potentially without Toews for a portion(s) of the season, there are opportunities for new players to step up into new leadership roles with the club.

The Shoo-Ins

Jonathan Toews

Duh. As long as he’s healthy and playing for the Blackhawks, he’s Captain Serious.

Patrick Kane

Again, duh.

Kane and Toews are the last two players of the “One Goal” era of the Blackhawks. Other than Toews, newly acquired goaltender Marc-André Fleury and forward Tyler Johnson, Kane is the only other player on the team to have won at least one Stanley Cup. He’s arguably the face of the franchise still, and he’s still the best player on the roster. He’s served as an alternate captain numerous times in his Blackhawks career, and if Toews wasn’t the Captain, it’s a safe bet that Kane would be wearing the “C” for Chicago.

Leadership Veterans

Seth Jones

One of the newest Blackhawks comes with not only a ton of NHL on-ice experience, but a ton of experience being one of the leading voices in a locker room. Jones was the Captain of the Team USA development program teams in his U17 and U18 years, as well as being part of the Team USA leadership group at the 2013 World Junior Championships. Along with being part of leadership groups in his Junior years, Jones has been part of the leadership group with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the past three seasons. There’s a chance that Jones could step into the fold in Chicago and be looked at as a voice to carry the locker room into the next era of Blackhawks hockey.

Connor Murphy

Much like Jones before him, Connor Murphy has been part of leadership groups at different levels of his career. He wore a letter for the Sarnia Sting in his final OHL season in 2012-13, and then again wore letters for Team USA during multiple World Championships from 2016-2018, Captaining the 2017 USA team. Last season, Murphy split time wearing an “A” for the Blackhawks along with Alex DeBrincat. There could be a good chance that the club goes with that same strategy next season.

Jake McCabe

To finish this group, all of which were teammates on the 2013 Team USA World Junior Championship Gold Medal team, the Captain of that USA team was Jake McCabe and he could be another new player to come into the fold in Chicago and be a leading voice in the locker room. Along with being named Captain of Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championships, he also wore an “A” in his final year at the University of Wisconsin as well as being part of the leadership group with the Buffalo Sabres for the past three seasons.

Future Leadership Core

Alex DeBrincat

Talking about the next era of Blackhawks hockey in Chicago, it’s hard not to imagine that it will center around players like Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat. Likely to be one of the next faces of the franchise, DeBrincat was part of Chicago’s leadership group last season, splitting time wearing an “A” last season along with Connor Murphy. DeBrincat has also served as an alternate captain in his Junior career during the 2016-17 season with the Erie Otters. As stated before, I feel like it will be highly likely that DeBrincat and Murphy continue to split time representing the Blackhawks leadership group.

Kirby Dach

Along with DeBrincat, Dach is looking like he will be a centerpiece to the next era of hockey with the Blackhawks. Dach would have experienced his first chance to play in a leadership role in his career with Team Canada at this past World Junior Championship, being named Captain ahead of the tournament, but missed out due to injury. Dach has never served in a leadership role prior to being named Team Canada’s Captain, but part of the reason that he was drafted by Chicago third overall in 2019 was because of his character and intangibles. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I don’t think I’m the only one that feels Dach could be being groomed to be the next Captain of the Blackhawks once Jonathan Toews’ career ends.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.