The question of whether a player should be stripped of his captaincy may be one of the hardest to answer among NHL circles. It is such an honor for a player to be able to wear that “C” on his jersey on a nightly basis.
When you think of great New Jersey Devils captains, one player will come to mind: Scott Stevens. He was the best captain the team may ever see in their history. When Bryce Salvador became the first defensive player to wear the C (besides when Scott Niedermayer wore it while Stevens was injured in the season prior to the lockout), it was a true honor for him.
Salvador has done everything that could be expected of him off the ice. He is a good leader in the locker room. He makes speeches when he sees fit. The defense has been a very big success for the past two seasons. He is on the first line of the penalty kill, which led the league in 2013-14. There are definitely some reasons why he should be captain going forward.
As many reasons as there are to keep the “C” on Salvador, there are many to strip him of his captaincy. One of the main reasons is his play on the ice. He looks really slow when it comes to the rush. He allows way too many breakaways that kill his goaltenders. Whoever his D partner is (often Anton Volchenkov, who has his own issues) has to always look over his shoulder to see if the other team is going to get an odd-man rush. He has a -14 plus/minus since he was named captain prior to the lockout-shortened season. Is being the captain causing him to put too much pressure on himself, causing his play to slip?
The other thing that is hurting Salvador’s case is the fact that the Devils have missed the postseason in two straight seasons. Now, you obviously can’t put that all on him, but the fact remains that the team has missed the playoffs in every season he has been captain. The last time the Devils missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons was way back in the 1985-87 seasons. At that point, the Devils had never qualified for the playoffs.
Even with that evidence against him, it still isn’t worth changing the captain. The players seem to like Salvador as their leader. They have only the third ever black captain in NHL history. That is something a GM like Lou Lamoriello likes to hang his hat on. There are reasons why his play has slipped, like age and injuries; taking the captaincy away from him won’t make him any younger. They only have Salvador for one more season. It is likely that he will retire once his current contract expires. Play this season out with Sal as your captain and then name Andy Greene the captain next season.