Who will be the Red Wings next captain?

DETROIT - The Red Wings only know consistency with captaincy.

Since 1986, only two players have worn the "C" on the winged wheel jersey. Steve Yzerman donned the letter on his jersey for 20 years until his retirement in July 2006.

Nicklas Lidstrom has had the honors since then, but with the captain retiring, the duty is seemingly up for grabs.

Lidstrom was as close to a shoe-in for the job once Yzerman retired six years ago.

Now, it seems two of his country mates are the logical front-runners to take over, with a puck magician and a possible newcomer as other possibilities.

Hank's the Guy
Henrik Zetterberg has spent all eight of his NHL seasons with Detroit, scoring 252 goals, good for tenth all-time in team history. He was the 2008 Conn Smythe winner during the team's Stanley Cup run.

Zetterberg has long been viewed as a leader in the locker room. The assistant captain is media savvy and arguably the team's most well-known player, behind the retiring Lidstrom.

During the 2008-09 season, he signed a 12-year, $73 million contract extension to stay in Detroit. He's long been key to the team's success. He will have to be the leader if the Red Wings  usher in another unprecedented era of greatness in the Motor City.

From Nick to Nik?
   
Niklas Kronwall also signed a lucrative extension to ensure he wouldn't leave anytime soon. This past season, the defenseman agreed to a seven-year extension worth $33.25 million   .

The former first-round pick is another homegrown talent in the Red Wings system who has served as an assistant captain. He'd continue the whole "Swedish defenseman" aspect, but more importantly, his commanding play often sets the tone for the team during respective playoff series.

His booming hits and aggressive play is reminiscent of the great Vladimir Konstantinov. His prowess on the power play is comparable, if not better, than Lidstrom's presence on the man advantage in his prime.

What about Pav?
Pavel Datsyuk is the most talented player to hit Hockeytown since Sergei Fedorov dominated the 1990's. He's been with the team a year longer than Zetterberg, and has scored 240 goals in his nine seasons.

Quiet in demeanor and far more than a jaw-dropping scorer, Datsyuk has amassed 478 assists, sixth best in Detroit history. He has taken home the Selke Trophy three consecutive seasons from 2007-10. He won four straight Lady Byng Trophies from 2006-09 and was nominated for the league's Hart Memorial Trophy as the MVP in 2008-09.

Despite the accolades, it's that quiet demeanor and quite frankly, his fluency with the English language, that may prevent him from taking over as Captain. His play, effort, and attitude undoubtedly prove his worth. It's the language barrier that unfortunately keeps him a distant third in the running.

As steady as he goes, Datsyuk's probably just fine with that.

The wild card
What about the new guy?

Okay, so Zach Parise's still playing with New Jersey, trying to win his first Stanley Cup. So he's busy.

Come July, it's a pretty sexy prediction in the hockey world that Parise will trade the Devil black, red, and white for the Red Wing, um, red and white.

He's a proven 27-year old star who has succeeded on the international and NHL level. An American-born captain in Hockeytown?

It could certainly keep that consistency in captaincy alive and well.
 

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