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The A’s, B’s, and C’s of the Majors

As the OHL regular season nears, I know my curiosity has gotten the better of me…and no one will settle my eagerness with a hint. “C” is for Captain, and I want to know which Major will wear it this year.

If you’re a Majors fan, for the last couple of seasons the next-in-line captain was clear; Jesse Messier, Cameron Gaunce, and Casey Cizikas.

In addition, four of last year’s five alternate captains (Brett Flemming, Rob Flick, Justin Shugg, and Corey Bureau) are gone, so there isn’t an obvious player to step up.

And now there’s a vacancy. Initially, I had my eye on Jordan Mayer. As an overager this year, he has the experience and respect to take on that leadership role. In the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, his first and second full years on the team respectively, he put up good numbers for the squad. Then last year he fell off the charts for a while, but that could be attributed to being on a much more talented team with a lot of depth and dominant players. However, he really stepped up in the playoffs earning 18 points in 20 games. And he had the opportunity to wear the “A” as alternate captain last season.

Devante Smith-Pelly is continuing to turn heads. His skill, strength, intelligence and of course, goal-scoring ability are all reasons why he’s a great fit for the Majors, but also impressive at the Anaheim Ducks camp. He earned 36 goals during the regular season, 15 goals (tied for the OHL lead in goals) and 21 points in 20 games throughout the playoffs, and six points in five Memorial Cup games. I’m sure I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that. With that said, his future with this team is still uncertain.

Then there’s Stuart Percy. He had the opportunity to wear the “C” during exhibition before he left for the Toronto Maple Leafs rookie camp, which means the Majors staff could be looking at him to take the lead. He seems to have the whole package and a lot of people agree. The other thing I like about this choice is that Percy most likely still has a couple of years left on this team and it would be nice to see a captain stick around for a while.

One player that has impressed me so for is Derek Schoenmakers. He spent a number of games as a healthy scratch last season, but left his mark as a player with this team. His overtime goal in Game Four against Sudbury to complete the Majors sweep of the Wolves in April is just one example. He has a lot of emotion, even during exhibition, and he’s a great guy on and off the ice. Embarking on his third year with the team, like Percy, he has potential to be here longer. Not sure if he’s capable of stepping up and being the leader for the Majors, but it’s great to see him take the reins while the top guns are away at NHL rookie camps.

At the end of the day, the choice that seems obvious to us could be completely different from that of the Majors camp. The situation on the Brampton Battalion last season is a perfect example of this. I talked to a lot of people who believed the “C” would go to either Sean Jones, Scott Tanski, even Kyle Pereira. No one I encountered thought Stephon Thorne would be the main man. Captaincy isn’t just about the best player; it’s about being a leader, building chemistry, taking a stand, encouraging his team when they’re down, being a good competitor and representative, and among other things a coaching staff is looking for. Everyone on the Battalion agreed he fit that profile.

Now, I’m going to throw another curve ball…take a breath…all this is relevant if Cizikas doesn’t return. But then you can also bring in the Shugg, Flemming, and Flick factors. If Cizikas returns, he gets his spot back. If he doesn’t, and let’s say Flemming returns, he doesn’t necessarily have the “C” tattooed on his chest, but it wouldn’t be out of the question. Then throw in a dash of OA’s and you complicate things even more. You can mix and match this all day; none of their futures are 100 per cent decided.

But looking at what we have in front of us right now, this is at the very least an idea of what we could see. When it comes to the alternate captains, basically any one of the other guys can fill that role.

To cap it all off, I’ll answer Trevor’s question. Yes, it sure is fun to speculate.

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