Smith, Stone, and Engelland: Why Were They Chosen?

The Vegas Golden Knights are one of 4 teams who don’t currently have a team captain. The other three- Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, and Ottawa Senators- have all had captains in the past, but when those players were traded or retired, the teams weren’t ready to name their replacements. But the Golden Knights are different; they’ve never had a single captain. In fact, the first season had a number of different alternate captains that rotated each game, giving many players the chance to step up and take that leadership role for a time. This year however, the Knights have 3 alternate captains: Reilly Smith, Deryk Engelland, and Mark Stone.

When you ask Vegas Golden Knights fans who should be captain, you get back a number of different suggestions. Many think it should be the player who will be around the longest. Others think it should be the best player on the team. Still others think it should be the loudest. But the reality is that captains are chosen for their leadership qualities, and the Golden Knights have a team full of leaders.

In a Q&A session at Jaguar/Land Rover Las Vegas, we asked assistant coaches Mike Kelly and Ryan McGill what qualities they look for in a captain, and why Smith, Engelland, and Stone were chosen.

“Obviously the quality of person is important,” Kelly said. “And let’s just say we could have had more. We could have had six, or seven. But where do you cut it off, right? But the quality of person, the example that they lay out every day, their work habits, their competitiveness, and how they relate to their teammates, for me.”

Ryan McGill said, “The biggest thing for me is the example they show on a daily basis, and how they treat other people, and how they take care of themselves, and what they bring to the table every night on a consistent basis.”

In an interview with Ben Gotz, from the Las Vegas Review Journal, Gerard Gallant stated very clearly that the Knights have a team full of guys that are capable of leading. He said, “The one thing we haven’t had an issue with is leadership. Our leadership group is second to none. That’s what I really like about it. You don’t got to coach these guys a lot. They take care of the young players. It’s outstanding. You name three assistant captains, but we use a group of 10 or 11 guys.”

Clearly Vegas has a number of guys capable of being the captain, but it’s also clear they’ve been doing just fine without one. And it’s doubtful that’s going to change in the near future.

Notable Facts About Captains in the NHL

  • Captains (or alternates) are the only players allowed to talk to the refs about rule interpretations. This does not mean captains (or any player) can complain about a penalty that’s been assessed. But you’ll notice that typically only the captains are having lengthy talks on the ice with the referees. Perhaps the ability to keep their cool with the refs is something required of a captain.
  • Goaltenders are not allowed to be captains. So while Fleury might seem like the natural choice, he’ll have to stay a leader without a title.
  • A team can appoint one captain, and up to two alternates. Or, if no captain is chosen, a team may have three alternate captains.