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Patrik Elias doesn’t want to be Devils captain; Is it time for Zach Parise?

Sep 16, 2011, 12:07 PM EST

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Patrik Elias Getty Images

We’ve discussed some of the vacant captaincies around the NHL and while there are six teams without a captain, the New Jersey Devils available “C” was one situation that seemed automatic to make a pick on. The most veteran player left in New Jersey was Patrik Elias having been a Devil since 1996 and winning two Stanley Cups with the team.

Unfortunately for the Devils, Elias doesn’t appear to be as keen on being the team’s captain as some would hope to be.

Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice talked to Elias about the available position as the team’s visible leader and he’s less than enthralled with the idea of once again being the Devils captain and that might have a bit to do with the past.

“I don’t need a letter to know what I’m supposed to do,” he said this morning during a break from his training camp physical. “I had the C. I didn’t like the situation the way it was handled when it was taken away. I don’t want to be put in that position again. I think I can help all the young guys and be a leader no matter what. It won’t matter to me.”

Elias was named Devils’ captain before the 2006-07 season by then head coach Claude Julien. He was stripped of the C by Brent Sutter at the start of the 2007 training camp. Sutter told the media about it before discussing it with Elias.

While Elias has worn the “A” ever since then, the idea of being captain again is one that he hasn’t been comfortable with. Who can blame him after what happened under Sutter. So if not Elias… Then who?

In our look at open captain positions around the league, our suggestion was for Zach Parise to get the call as the Devils captain. Of course, the problem there is that he’s signed up for one more year in New Jersey and could hit unrestricted free agency in July. If you think that’s not a situation that’s hanging around in the mind of the Devils, Elias made it clear when asked if Parise should be the guy to be named captain.

When I asked Elias if he thinks Parise will be given the C, he replied,“Hopefully. Then again, you don’t want to have a captain for one year.”

Here’s to hoping Devils fans won’t have a hard time sleeping for the rest of the season thinking about that one.

If it’s not going to be Elias and if it’s too tenuous of a situation to give the “C” to Parise… Then who? The choices there are slim.

If you want to stick with a lifetime Devils player, then perhaps Travis Zajac is your guy. If you want to go with a guy who was a captain with another team, Ilya Kovalchuk is going to be with the Devils for a little while longer. If you’re looking for a dark horse candidate, then how about Anton Volchenkov who’s as much of a leader on defense as anyone on the team.

Of course, there’s also the possibility the Devils could end up being “that team” and going without a captain for the season or, more confusingly so, go with a captaincy that changes from month to month. What’s the fun in that though? No matter how the Devils choose to handle it, there’s going to be some manner of controversy beneath the surface. If it’s Parise, the pressure to get him signed to a long-term deal mounts. If it’s someone aside from Parise, the questions about whether he bolts in the offseason are there unless he gets a deal done.

Maybe Elias might want to take the captaincy just to keep the drama from blowing up in Newark.

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