Ice Hockey Wiki

Jarome Iginla wears the "C" on his jersey as captain of the Calgary Flames.

In hockey, each team has a designated captain, who wears a "C" on his or her jersey.

Responsibilities and importance

According to International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and National Hockey League (NHL) rules, the only player allowed to speak with referees about rule interpretations is the captain, or, if the captain is not on the ice, an alternate captain.[1][2] Goaltenders may not be designated as captains or alternate captains because of the logistical challenges of having the goaltender relay rules discussions between referees and coaches and then return to the crease. The last NHL goaltender who served as team captain prior to this rule coming into effect was Bill Durnan of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1947-1948 season.

Although the rules do not specify any other distinction between the captain and his teammates, in North American professional hockey he has numerous responsibilities to the team. The captain is expected to be a locker room leader and is often considered the primary representative of his team to the public. The captain also represents the players' concerns to management and sometimes is responsible for organizing the team's social functions.

Captains are selected by team management; some teams hold a vote among the players to choose the team's captain. Captains are usually veteran players, though on occasion younger players are chosen. The selection is often seen as an important moment for a team, and one that can affect the team's (and newly appointed captain's) performance.

NHL teams need not designate the same player as captain from game to game, though most teams do. Some teams name two (co-captains) or three (tri-captains) captains for a season. Some teams rotate captains rather than keep one for an extended period of time. Note during each NHL game, only one player can officially be designated as captain.[2]

Alternate captains

Luc Robitaille, 2005: the "A" is also placed on the player's left, though sometimes on the right, like the captain

Teams may designate alternate captains, who are sometimes referred to as "assistant captains". Alternate captains wear the letter A on their jerseys in the same manner that team captains wear the C. In the NHL, teams may appoint two alternate captains if they have a captain, or they may appoint three alternate captains and no captain.[3] In the CHL, teams are allowed to have a captain with up to three alternate captains. International rules stipulate that "each team shall appoint a Captain and no more than two Alternate Captains."[1] When the captain is off the ice, any alternate captain on the ice is responsible for fulfilling the captain's official role as liaison to the referees.

Teams need not appoint the same players as alternate captains from game to game, though they generally do. NHL alternate captains perform many of the same leadership and team building roles as the captain.


The youngest captain in NHL history is Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who became captain on May 31, 2007 at age 19.[4] Steve Yzerman served as the captain of the Detroit Red Wings for twenty seasons (1986-87 season to 2005-06 season), the longest term in the history of the NHL.[5]

Lists of current captains


  1. 1.0 1.1 International Ice Hockey Federation. IIHF Official Rules (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  2. 2.0 2.1 National Hockey League (2007). National Hockey League Official Rules (PDF). Triumph Books. Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  3. Rule 14 Captain of Team. Retrieved on 2007-09-15.
  4. Molinari, Dave. "Crosby to be youngest team captain in NHL", Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 2007-05-31. Retrieved on 2007-09-15. 
  5. Steve Yzerman. Retrieved on 2007-09-16.

See also

Positions on the Hockey Rink
Forwards: HockeyRink.png
Left winger | Centre | Right winger
Left defenceman | Right defenceman
Power forward | Enforcer | Captain | Head coach | Referee & linesman