October 5, 2015 By Paul Gackle

DeBoer On Naming Pavelski As Sharks Captain: ‘It’s His Time’

SAN JOSE — Captain America is officially the captain of the Sharks, too.

Joe Pavelski became the 12th captain in Sharks history on Monday, ending a tumultuous 13-month saga in which the team attempted to rebound from an epic 3-0 collapse in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs without a clear-cut leader.

Head coach Peter DeBoer’s announcement carves into stone the role that Pavelski has performed unofficially since he was named as one of four rotating alternate captains along with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic early last season.

Thornton and Logan Couture will be Pavelski’s alternate captains this year.

“It’s a huge honor,” Pavelski said. “I’m excited to have an opportunity like this. It means a lot, but it really can’t change anything about the player I am or what my game is going to be like. Just got to keep putting the work in and try to get better every day and perform.”

DeBoer said he choose Pavelski as his captain because, “it’s his time.”

“He’s grown into a leader on this team and a key player and he has the respect of everybody in the room and everybody I’ve talked to,” DeBoer said. “I’ve witnessed it firsthand.”

While Pavelski was one of four alternate captains last season, he performed the role of unofficial captain with the media last season, being the first player to speak with reporters after games. He also led with his play on the ice, topping the Sharks in points (70) and goals (37).

Pavelski cemented his perception as the team’s leader last year when an Epix film crew captured a profanity-laced tirade on camera during the first intermission of a bout with the Coyotes on Feb. 13 in the TV series, Epix Presents Road to the Stadium Series.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first period to the lowly Coyotes, Pavelski could be seen tearing into his teammates on camera, urging them to play a “hard game”.

Thornton said the official announcement isn’t going to change the dynamic in the locker room.

“We all think Pav’s our leader anyways, so really nothing changes,” Thornton said, referring to Pavelski. “But now, it’s official that he’s the captain. It’s great for him and it’s well deserved.”

Thornton said Pavelski is a natural leader because he “just does it the right way.”

“He goes out. He plays the right way. He plays hard, puts in the time,” Thornton said. “I think that’s the main thing. He doesn’t really need to say too much in the locker room, the way he plays just says enough.”

Couture said he doesn’t see Pavelski’s game or leadership style changing with the ‘C’ on his sweater.

“He’s not going to change who he is. He’s going to do what he’s done since I’ve been here and probably since he’s been here: go out and lead by example,” Couture said. “He’s vocal in the room, steps up at big times. Seems like he always scores the big goals for us. He’s going to be the same guy, at least that’s what we expect.”

While the announcement isn’t going to change Pavelski’s game, it will allow the Sharks to turn the page on the distraction that has been hovering over them since the captaincy was stripped from Thornton last summer.

By not having an official captain last season, questions about the team’s leadership continued to surface as the team traveled from city to city across the NHL and eventually missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

When the Sharks played a game in Winnipeg on March 17 last season, fans could be heard chanting: “Who’s Your Captain?”

“We’re trying to put the last couple of years behind us and move forward,” Pavelski said. “We have a new staff and we’ve got some new players that have fit in really well with us, so there’s a lot of new things where it can allow us to move forward.“

Couture agreed: “It’s nice to have it so it’s not a distraction, so we don’t have to answer questions constantly about it from you guys.”

While Pavelski was the obvious choice for captain, DeBoer said it wasn’t necessarily an easy decision to reach.

“There’s a lot of good leaders in that room. A lot of guys that have worn C’s before for a reason,” he said. “It was a tough decision, but at the same time, it doesn’t minimize the fact that Joe was the guy.”

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