Hello! Is there a rule that says that goalie cant be team captain? Thank you! :)
There is! Rule 6.1, to be exact (or at least that’s what it was last season, so now the NHL will probably change the number just to make me look like a fool). And if you want a little cool hockey history behind that rule, then I am so here for you, anon.
In the history of the NHL, we’ve seen 6 goalies serve as official team captains. Well, we probably actually haven’t seen them, because the last goalie to be named captain was Bill Durnan of the Montreal Canadiens, during the 1947-48 season. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, because the first goalie captain was John Ross Roach of the Toronto St. Patricks in 1924-25. Apparently, prior to this, the NHL decided that each team needed to designate a single player to talk to the referees. The problem, at the time, was that if that player wasn’t on the ice at the time a problem arose, he couldn’t actually talk to the referee. Kind of a big issue, eh? So, the coach of the Toronto St. Patricks said no thank you and appointed his goalie as the team captain. The goalie is always on the ice so, problem solved. Well done, coach.
Following John Ross Roach (whose nickname was actually “Little Napoleon,” come on), we saw five more goalie captains. Hell, the 1932-33 season saw not one, not two, but three goalies serving as captain with George Hainsworth of the Montreal Canadiens, Roy Worters of the New York Americans, and Alex Connell of the Ottawa Senators all captaining their teams. During the 1933-34 season, Charlie Gardiner was named captain of the Chicago Black Hawks (with the space, which didn’t actually go away until 1986). Fun fact, Gardiner is the only NHL goaltender to captain his team to a Stanley Cup win. And then, in 1947-48, the Montreal Canadiens named Bill Durnan team captain and all hell broke loose. Well, not literally, but stick with me here.
So now you might be asking, okay, Meg, but why did this all change after Durnan? What happened in 1947-48? Why can’t our favorite goaltenders serve as team captains now? Well, prior to the 1948-1949 season, the NHL actually made a change to the rule because of Durnan. They’d received so many complaints from opponents of the Montreal Canadiens, that the NHL decided to prohibit goalies from being captains or even alternate captains altogether. Apparently, Durnan left his crease to argue with the referee at seriously strategic points during games, which resulted in unscheduled timeouts and delays in the games. Seriously, they don’t call this the “Durnan Rule” for no reason.
Now, some of you might be scratching your heads because you recall a time in the not so distant past when the Canucks apparently didn’t get a copy of the rulebook. The Canucks named Roberto Luongo as the team captain for the 08-09 and 09-10 seasons. But here’s the kicker: Luongo couldn’t actually act as the official captain during games. Willie Mitchell acted as the on-ice captain, with Henrik Sedin and Mattias Ohlund performing any ceremonial aspects of the captain position, including pre-game faceoffs. In fact, Luongo couldn’t even wear the captain C on his jersey. No way, he had to have it painted on his mask instead. So while Luongo was technically the captain of the Canucks for those two seasons, he wasn’t officially recognized as such by the NHL. In fact, he wasn’t even noted as captain on the official roster reports.
So there you have it! Goalies cannot be named official team captains in the NHL, and we can all blame Bill Durnan for that. Thanks, Bill!