The 21st in our 118-part series.
Today Bill Guerin was named captain of the Islanders, making him yet another in a long line of ex-Devils players who’ve gone on to captain their new teams. While our kneejerk is to laugh heartily — “Ha ha ha, Bill Guerin? Bill ‘Butthead’ Guerin?! A captain?!? Say it ain’t so!” — we won’t. Why? Because hockey captains are sacred. (And seriously, can he do worse than Yashin? Almost certainly not.) Little is made of captains in the other major sports. We all know Derek Jeter is captain of the Yankees, but we don’t that manifest itself much on the field; we see the three captains in football come out for the coin toss but in the hustle and bustle of the busy sidelines, we don’t see how they lead their teammates during a game. But hockey captains are front and center. That giant C on his sweater doesn’t just let us know he can talk to the referees, it lets us know who to look to when the going gets rough. It lets us know who’s comments should be heeded following big losses, and lets us know who’s going to be talking (or in the case of uber-captains Scott Stevens and Stevie Y, not talking) before the big win. It lets us know who we should spend the summer cursing when the team doesn’t live up to expectations. And, most importantly, it lets us know who’s going to be hoisting the Cup first. So we say to Billy G, good luck on Long Island. We, uh, don’t think you’re going to need to worry about that last point (sorry, Margee!).