Oh Captain, My Captain: Chicago's Team Leaders

Blackhawks There have been a lot of great leaders to play in this town over the years. Guys who have won championships and some who have even made it into the Hall of Fame. It’s a great time to be a captain in Chicago. The players who are wearing the ‘C’ for their respective teams have done quite a lot.

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It’s not hard to mention Jonathan Toews first. He’s entering just his seventh season with the Blackhawks, but his resume includes two Stanley Cup Championships, a Conn Smythe trophy, a gold medal at the Winter Olympics and multiple All Star Game appearances. Toews is mastering his craft on both sides of the ice.

Last year he won the Selke trophy as league’s best defensive forward. When team Canada edged team U.S.A in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Toews won the award for being the tournament’s best forward. He is the definition of a selfless player. He’s even dropped his gloves a few times to protect a teammate; not all captains can say that.

Paul Konerko may have played his last game in a White Sox uniform when his team lost their 99th game of the season. Konerko’s approach has stayed consistent throughout the years. Whether it be a season where his team makes the playoffs or one where they struggle to play .500 ball, he has always just gone to work and done his job.

When the White Sox hosted the All Star game in 2003, Konerko may have had his worst season. He made promises to make appearances at various festivities. He didn’t try to avoid what was going to be an onslaught of questions about his poor performance. Instead of looking for excuses, he showed up and did what he was supposed to do.

Last year, the Bulls listed Derrick Rose and Luol Deng as their team captains. That will most-likely be the case again this year. They also have veterans like Kirk Hinrich and Joakim Noah. There may be some negative thoughts regarding Rose due to choice to sit out for the entire 2012-13 season, but it won’t take long for people to forget that when the former MVP leads the team into the playoffs.

Deng was also unavailable when the Bulls were eventually eliminated by the Heat. It’s hard to believe he’s not in his 30s yet. He’s entering his 10th season in Chicago. Throughout his career he’s dealt with trade rumors, but like Konerko, he’s ignored it and done his job. He didn’t make his first All-Star game until a few year ago, but that didn’t change his demeanor.

The Bears may have lost one of the greatest leaders the organization’s history when Brian Urlacher retired during the offseason. That’s saying something when players like Mike Singletary, Walter Payton and Dick Butkus have played here.

The team is making due, though. When the coin is flipped before each game, five players represent the Bears. Quarterback Jay Cutler, offensive linemen Roberto Garza and Patrick Mannely (the team’s longest tenured player) as well as defensive players Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers. There have been questions about Cutler’s leadership skills, but there’s no doubt that he has command of the huddle.

Garza has done a good job of training youngster Kyle Long and Jordan Mills on the fly. Briggs and Peppers each have gone to multiple Pro Bowls and can be counted on in all defensive situations.

The Cubs are still finding their identity as a group. They’ve also traded a lot of their players over the past few season. It wouldn’t surprise me if players like Anthony Rizzo or Jeff Samardzija step up to take on the captain role. I’m sure the Cubs will follow in line with the rest of the teams in this city and find the right person to lead the squad.