Buffalo - October 8, 2014 - On Tuesday, to the surprise of no one, the Buffalo Sabres announced their new leadership group: Brian Gionta as captain with Josh Gorges and Matt Moulson as alternates.
This is the second time Gionta has worn the “C” in the NHL. The 35-year-old is the former captain of the Montreal Canadiens for four years, starting with the 2010 season and relinquishing it up signing with Buffalo in July.
When the Sabres inked Gionta, it was clear it was for that leadership factor. Going back to the days of the Jason Pominville/Ryan Miller/Thomas Vanek core, unquestioned leadership was always an issue. Hell, ever since Chris Drury left, it’s been an issue. The team has rotated captains, given it to new acquisitions (Craig Rivet) and even had co-captains.
Gorges joining as an alternate was expected as well. He served as an alternate under Gionta in Montreal and was considered the next in line to take over the captaincy had he not been traded to the Sabres during the offseason. His immense hatred for the Maple Leafs also makes him an ideal leader.
The semi-surprise is Moulson. Given Drew Stafford’s role as an alternate in recent years, the initial thought was that he would wear the other “A”. Moulson is a fan-favorite and seems to genuinely enjoy playing for the Sabres, so it’s no doubt a nice compliment to two proven leaders.
On the whole, this is the move the Sabres absolutely needed to make and it should have happened years ago when they actually had a team to compete. Regardless, having a proven, veteran leader in place like Gionta on a young team like this is (and is going to be going forward) will be important in the development of all the young players the Sabres are bringing through the system.
The changes in leadership might not mean more wins on the ice this season, but that’s okay. The goal is to prepare for the next couple of years and having this leadership base in place is an essential block in that building process.
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