The New Jersey Devils had their first training camp practices today, welcoming back veterans, rookies and tryout players. Even with all the players there, the team is still missing something - a captain.
The Devils' haven't captaincy has been vacant since a January trade of Jamie Langenbrunner. Entering training camp, the team still hadn't announced who would wear the "C."
There's one player, though, who won't accept the position. Patrik Elias, who served as Devils' captain under Claude Julien during the 2006-07 season. Lou Lamoriello fired Julien before the season ended, and hired Brent Sutter. Sutter stripped Elias of the captaincy during training camp in 2007, telling the media before informing Elias of the decision.
It's a situation he didn't want to face again.
"I had the C," Elias told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "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."
Two players seem to be in the running. Ilya Kovalchuk, who still has 14 more years remaining on his contract, served as captain of the Atlanta Thrashers and the Russian national team. With Zach Parise out last season, Kovalchuk became one of the emotional leaders on the team.
The favorite appears to be Parise. Many players believed Langenbrunner's trade opened the door to Parise becoming captain. His contract situation, though, might complicate that appointment. The Devils and Parise reached a one-year contract this summer, but both sides have yet to agree to a long-term extension.
Elias thinks Parise will be the future captain, but the contract will obviously complicate the decision.
"Hopefully," Elias told Gulitti. "Then again, you don't want to have a captain for one year."
Parise would be willing to accept the challenge, if he's picked.
"Of course, I'm interested in it," he told Gulitti. "If I'm not, that's fine too."