Bryce Salvador Best Choice for New Jersey Devils’ Captaincy
By: Mike Luciano @MikeLuci
Recently, New Jersey Devils head coach Pete DeBoer made it official that Zach Parise’s successor as captain will be defenseman Bryce Salvador.
The Devils’ community has primarily reflected three main views on the decision to paste the “C” on Salvador’s jersey. Fans have either supported the decision, were against it, or focused more on the hypocrisy of how the consensus viewpoint of Salvador has been revolutionized over the past two seasons.
When the Devils initially traded for Salvador at the 2008 trade deadline, I was not a fan of the move. I was even more annoyed when Lamoriello brought him back for four more years that same offseason. Salvador was a player that grew on me throughout his ongoing duration in a Devils uniform and I will admit I was one of several fans that speculated and hoped it would be Salvador that was one of the odd men out when the Devils faced the inevitability of getting underneath the salary cap before the start of the 2010-2011 season.
Salvador’s remarkable performance in the 2012 playoffs had him emerge as the leader of the Devil’s “no-name” defense and astronomically boosted his admiration of the Devil’s faithful and his present value to the team. Considering his turbulent past few years, I doubt Lamoriello would have entertained much of the notion of re-signing Salvador for three more seasons, let alone Pete DeBoer giving him the captaincy hadn’t Salvador played the way he did this past postseason.
This is where the hypocrisy lies that many Devils fans have had no trouble calling out the emphatic supporters of Salvador getting the captaincy.
I will admit I probably wouldn’t have given Salvador as much consideration for the captaincy had he played such an instrumental role in the Devil’s run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. With that said, Salvador proving capable of performing when it matters most is a solid indicator of his viability for consideration of the captaincy.
Salvador, 36 is one of the older veteran skaters on the team that hasn’t had a previous stint as captain in the past. His veteran status obviously gives him some leverage as the abundance of youthful players on the Devils can learn a thing or two from him whether it be pertinent to their position (such as Adam Larsson) or just from general hockey experience.
It’s also worth noting that Salvador has the most experience game-wise with 692 (and that’s with an entire season lost at the expense of a concussion) out of the Devil’s defense corps. Salvador is also the first defenseman on the Devils to be granted the captaincy since Scott Niedermayer in 2004.
Salvador certainly is not a long term solution in the Devil’s leadership department but most certainly is a bridge to the Devils gaining long term stability in the captaincy department for the first time since Scott Stevens proudly manned the “C” on his Devils sweater. The three years during which Salvador will likely remain the Devils captain provides an ideal trial period to filter out viable candidates to become the team’s next captain. This three-year trial pertains to the likes of Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson, Travis Zajac, Ilya Kovalchuk, and even David Clarkson if he re-signs after this season.