The captain in hockey is the definitive leader and mental crutch of any hockey team. In other professional sports such as baseball and football, captains are picked by skill and longevity with the team, but in hockey, experience and hockey IQ are the main reasons a player will be given the "C" on their jersey. The captain must be able to quickly identify and inform their teammates of the opponent's strategy and the pace of the game.
Another role of the captain in hockey is to be a leader in the locker room. Throughout the years, many great teams have fallen to their demise due to locker room issues that divided the team. This reason is why a quality captain is essential to a team's success. Teams can play either above or below their skill level depending on the stature of their captain.
The longest-tenured captain in the National Hockey League is defenseman Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins. Chara has been the Bruins' captain since 2006 which is currently a 14-year tenure. Over his captainship, Chara has become one of the best players in Bruins history and a staple of the team's first defensive pairing. The oldest captain in the NHL has led his team to numerous playoff appearances and a Stanley Cup victory in 2011.
Traditionally, the C goes on the left side of the jersey, but this rule is not required and only a stylistic choice. The Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes, place the C on the right side of the jersey because of the placement of the logo in the middle. The C may also move to fit a commemorative logo on the jersey for purposes such as a Stanley Cup victory or the death of someone related to the team.
The captain of the Blues when they finally won the Stanley Cup in 2019 was Alex Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo has been on the Blues for his entire career after getting drafted fourth overall by the team in 2008. In 2016, he was made captain. Pietrangelo is considered one of the best defensemen in hockey and was the heart of the Blues throughout the team's Stanley Cup run.
While the C on player's jersey denotes the captain of a team, the A identifies the two alternate captains on the ice. The alternates still have a very important role on a hockey team. If the captain is injured, these players take the lead on the ice while the captain can still advise from the sideline. Sometimes, teams do not have a captain and rather elect to have three alternate captains to spread the leadership among multiple players.