Canucks name Quinn Hughes 15th captain in franchise history: Why he was the obvious choice

Defenseman Quinn Hughes is the new captain of the Vancouver Canucks, the team announced Monday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Hughes is the 15th captain in franchise history. He joins an illustrious list of players that include Hall of Famers Henrik Sedin, Roberto Luongo and Mark Messier.
  • The 23-year-old is entering his sixth NHL season.
  • In 2022-23, Hughes recorded seven goals and 69 assists in 78 games played. His 76 points ranked third among defensemen last season.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Why Hughes is the perfect fit

Hughes has grown up significantly in his time in Vancouver. In terms of what we can see publicly, it’s clear he’s become a leader in terms of what he’s capable of addressing head-on, with his commentary around the pride night controversy and his speech addressing fans at the final Canucks home game last season standing out as examples.

There’s a lot that goes into being a captain in the NHL which we — the fan and media — aren’t privy to. In terms of what we are, Hughes seems to be a perfect fit. And that side of the job tends to be particularly high leverage in Vancouver. — Drance

Timing of announcement surprising

Hughes was an obvious choice and one that the club has been telegraphing since Rick Tocchet was named head coach back in January.

The timing is a bit surprising, however, given the status of Elias Pettersson, who declined to sign an extension and pointedly declared his intention not to hold talks until after this season a few weeks ago.

Pettersson’s time in Vancouver has rarely seen him be entrusted or empowered as “the guy.” From his bridge contract to Jim Rutherford’s tepid commentary when he first took over to Patrik Allvin suggesting that the club didn’t have any superstar players (a suggestion he later clarified), the club has often been somewhat less than all in when dealing with their best forward.

Pettersson is a bit of an introverted character, and perhaps he wouldn’t have been moved by the inducement of the “C” anyway. It’s certainly interesting that the club didn’t want to use the “C” as a possible lever, however, in their attempts to retain their superstar forward. — Drance

Hughes’ captaincy announcement understated

The past several Canucks captains were unveiled in big, pregame ceremonies in advance of the Canucks’ home opener.

At these events, the club has regularly invited original captain Orland Kurtenbach among other iconic former Canucks captains and put on a show in terms of a changing of the guard.

On Monday, however, the club dropped the Hughes news rather suddenly in a press release and invited the media to a press conference. It’s very understated relative to how this club has typically done business in handling this symbolic organizational role.

Is this, perhaps, the club attempting to lessen the drama around their hockey club? If so, that could be a very good thing. Understated is something the Canucks franchise could very much use. — Drance


Hughes entered the league when the Canucks selected him at No. 7 during the 2018 NHL Draft. He played college hockey at the University of Michigan, where he set a school record for most assists by a freshman in a single season (24). Hughes earned first-team All-Big Ten honors during the 2019 season.

Internationally, Hughes represented Team USA at the world U18 championships (2017), where he won a gold medal. He won silver with Team USA at the World Juniors in 2019.

For his NHL career, Hughes has 26 goals and 215 assists in 283 games played. He made his first All-Star Game during the 2019-20 season.

Required reading

(Photo: Bob Frid / USA Today)

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