The Montreal Canadiens are the most storied franchise in National Hockey League (NHL) history and, as such, have employed some of the best players to step foot on the ice. Their list of captains alone include Hall of Famers like Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Yvan Cournoyer, Jean Béliveau and Maurice Richard. Nick Suzuki is the latest player to join the illustrious list.
Suzuki, 23, was named the 31st captain of the Canadiens on September 12. He’s the youngest captain in franchise history and takes over from Shea Weber, who wore the “C” on his sweater for three seasons. Weber didn’t play last season, so Montreal effectively had no captain.
With Nick Suzuki named captain, the Canadiens officially usher in a new era this season. Martin St. Louis will start his first full season as the team’s head coach, while Suzuki will lead a talented young core that includes Cole Caufield, Kirby Dach, and 2022 first overall draft pick Juraj Slafkovsky. Brendan Gallagher and Joel Edmundson were named alternate captains.
While it’s risky to name a 23 year old captain, the Canadiens made the right choice in giving Suzuki the honor. Here’s why.
Past Leadership Experience
Nick Suzuki, like many NHL players, was part of his team’s leadership groups dating back to his minor hockey days. However, he rose above the pack and proved himself a standout leader in the Ontario Hockey League, where he captained the Owen Sound Attack.
Suzuki was an assistant captain in his third season with the Attack and was named the franchise’s 23rd captain the following season. He recorded 45 points in 30 games before a midseason trade to the Guelph Storm that season.
He’s One of the Canadiens’ Best Forwards
There’s no doubt Suzuki is the Canadiens’ best forward. He led the team in scoring last season with 61 points and has already proven his ability to thrive in tough situations. He recorded 16 points in 22 playoff games during the Canadiens’ surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021.
Suzuki has finished top five in team scoring in each of his first three seasons in Montreal. He should set another career-best in points this season.
His Superior Work Ethic
Nick Suzuki leads by example both on and off the ice. In fact, he’s already made quite the positive impact on both his teammates and coaches. Last offseason, Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson spoke about what makes Suzuki a great leader in an interview with the Montreal Gazette.
“I don’t think he’s going to be a real loud, vocal, rah-rah guy, but not everybody has to be,” Richardson said. “I think some leaders are just pure by their play and I think that’s what Nick’s going to be. Definitely he’s more comfortable talking and speaking on the bench, asking questions of the coaches and discussing plays with his teammates, whether it be before a draw or not.”
Caulfield also noticed his drive and commitment to getting better: “Watching him earlier this year you could see the skill, the work ethic and the really good player that he is. But being able to play with him and be with him every day you kind of see how calm he is and how mature he is as a player and a person.”
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