I hadn’t realized this, but apparently Flyer fans are blaming some of the team’s struggles on Mike Richards captaincy skills (or supposed lack thereof).
Certainly not helping things is Chris Pronger telling the media he wants to get involved in leading the team, but doesn’t “want to step on [Richards] toes.”
I’m always shocked by the weight people put on the title of captain. Although it is a military rank, the NHL is not actually a military (or paramilitary organization). The captain’s rule is neither binding nor absolute.
That means if someone like Pronger wants to step-up to help a failing team, there’s nothing stopping him. For instance, if Pronger were to stand up in the locker room to try and get the team out of its malaise, there would not be court-martial proceedings.
And that goes for any of the more veteran Flyers. Richards is young and low-key. Sometimes that’s what a team needs in its captain. But sometimes they need another leadership style. And that’s why teams have more than one player. That’s also why teams have assistant captains, of which Pronger is one.
If Pronger really wanted to help the team, he’d stand-up and help the team. If Pronger wanted to throw a young teammate under the bus, he’d go to the media subtly questioning the teammate’s leadership skills. We see which path Pronger chose. And Pronger’s admitting Richards is not in an easy position doesn’t make his other comments any less passive-aggressive, just as saying ‘no offense’ doesn’t make comments any less offensive.
Obviously, the Flyers are a flawed team. They need help. They’ll probably have a new coach soon, and that could be what the team needs to get shaken out of its funk. But I can’t imagine there’s anything any player, captain, assistant captain, treasurer, sergeant, or just regular player, could say in the locker room that would suddenly fix the Flyers. Unless it was some kind of magical incantation and the person saying it was a wizard. I bet that would help.