Leadership: “A” Is For…

By JD Lagrange – The Montreal Canadiens have lost some quality leadership in the past couple of years, no doubt. Ultimate leader and captain Shea Weber was forced into injury-related long term leave, as has Carey Price, a quiet leader in the room. Corey Perry, Jeff Petry (now back but for how long?), and more recently Joel Edmundson, were all great veteran leaders on the Habs’ squad from the 2021 playoffs’ push.

But there are still some quality people in this dressing room. Brendan Gallagher is also a great leader, as is David Savard, who has taken a leadership role with some of the Canadiens’ new defensemen, in particular with young Kaiden Guhle. Josh Anderson is acting like a true leader both in the room and in front of cameras. Sean Monahan wore a letter in Calgary and Mike Matheson is surging as a leader on this team as well.

Letters candidates

Nick Suzuki is the captain obviously and will be wearing the “C”. In fact, Suzuki himself says being in touch with none other than Shea Weber from time to time, running things by him. Who better than a former Mark Messier Award winner to guide you through this market, the man who wore the captain “C” before you?

But Suzuki cannot do it alone. Who are the Canadiens’ top candidates to wear an “A” on their jersey this upcoming season? As mentioned above, they are many who have in the past (some of it due to the rash of injuries), but there are others who are also deserving. The debate is open, to say the least. Let’s have a look at the top candidates, shall we?

Brendan Gallagher

He’s worn in for the past several years now. It would be shocking if he didn’t wear the letter on his jersey, at least part time. If you want a vocal leader, one that preaches by example, leaving it all on the ice on every shift, Gally is your guy!

David Savard

The big shot blocking defenseman took a mentorship role last season and young Kaiden Guhle had nothing but praise for Savard and what he did for him last year. With Edmundson gone, his role will be that much more important, in my opinion, as many of the Canadiens defensemen will be entering their second season at the NHL level.

Jeff Petry (?)

Yes, I have to put him on this list. He was an assistant-captain prior to requesting a trade and he asked for that trade for two reasons: he didn’t see eye to eye with then head coach Dominique Ducharme, and due to COVID and the travel restrictions, had to spend too much time away from his wife and kids. Things did change when Martin St-Louis took over and the restrictions were lifted, but he may not be with the Canadiens when season starts.

Josh Anderson

He is a strong candidate, believe it or not. His coaches like him. His teammates like him, as does management. He has a rare mix of size, speed, grit and character. He has added an East-West aspect to his game and he’s been taking a bigger role by killing penalties last season. He doesn’t shy away from answering the bell in front of the oftentimes blood-thirsty media either.

Mike Matheson

He has stepped up his game on the ice, and he is emerging as a young veteran leader on this defensive squad as well. Calm, cerebral, and now having played a season in his hometown, he has what it takes to be one of this team’s leaders.

Sean Monahan

Monahan was an assistant-captain in Calgary. He was a great mentor to Suzuki before getting injured last season and there is no denying that he’s a low maintenance player that can be relied upon in all aspects. Giving him a letter to wear would not be a stretch by any means. In fact, it would be a good thing.

Emerging youth

There are a few young players who are emerging as young leaders on this team. They may not be fully ready to take on a letter, but they have displayed leadership skills at lower levels and it might just be a matter of time before they take on a bigger role both on and off the ice for this team.

Kirby Dach

When you talk about emergence, the name of Dach should be high on everyone’s list. If he can stay healthy, he is poised to have a breakout season. Very mature for his young age, this will already be his fifth NHL season for the 22 year-old. This being his second season in Montreal, he should take more room in the dressing room, through familiarity.

Kaiden Guhle

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Guhle reminds me so much of a young Shea Weber. In my opinion, he will be an assistant-captain before long and could become team captain one day. I would give him a couple of years of development without a letter though. Keep that pressure off… for now. But he’s fully capable.

Cole Caufield

Said by many to be the firecracker and the clown of the team, his demeanour and smile are contagious. Good friend and linemate of captain Nick, he is serious about improving his game and he has shown that since the coaching change. Who better to teach him the ropes than St-Louis, seriously? I don’t see him being ready for a letter but he should wear one, some day.


If I had to choose, I would go with the alternating options, as the team has done the past few years, for the letter “A” on players’ jerseys. I would name two alternates for the road, and two different guys for home games to assist Suzuki.


  1. Brendan Gallagher (A)
  2. David Savard (A)


  1. Sean Monahan (A)
  2. Josh Anderson (A)

I really like Matheson as a choice too, and it was tight between him and Anderson as a choice. But the Powerhorse has been here longer and has already displayed the necessary signs of a quality leader, justifying my choice over the quality defenseman.

With that being said, if the team was going to do like the “old days”, by having the same three guys wear letters all season long, both for road and home games, my choices would be:

CNick Suzuki (obviously)

ABrendan Gallagher

ADavid Savard

On Team Canada, “A” is for Anderson

Love him or hate him, or anything in between, one would have to be of bad faith to deny that former Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin wasn’t an expert at big trades. The rest is debatable but there is no doubt that during his nine plus years at the helm of the Habs, he has not lost many trades, let alone ones involving big name players.

Remember when Bergevin acquired Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers for a second and fourth round pick? Or perhaps you recall when he got Phillip Danault and a second round pick (Alexander Romanov) from the Chicago Blackhawks for pending UFAs Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann? He also traded Alex Galchenyuk to the Arizona Coyotes for Max Domi, who then had a 72-points season with the Habs. Max Pacioretty was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a second round pick, a pick which was later traded to draft Mattias Norlinder. The one that spilled a lot of ink, the trade he was most criticized about, was when he traded for Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators for fan favourite P.K. Subban. Even the most vocal at the time now recognize that Bergevin won that trade by a landslide.

The one trade that I want to talk about today, though, is then one when the former Canadiens’ GM traded a struggling Domi in his second season in Montreal, to the Columbus Blue Jackets for power forward Josh Anderson.

The power horse

Back on October 6, 2020, the Canadiens announced that they had traded Max Domi and a third round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Anderson.

The trade, as most big trades are, was a bit controversial in Montreal as the then 26-year-old Anderson had only one goal and four points in 26 games with the Blue Jackets the previous season. He hadn’t played since March after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Both Domi and Anderson were pending RFAs and two days after the trade, Bergevin signed the 6-foot 3-inches, 222 lbs winger to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract extension.

Anderson displays a rare combination of size, speed, physicality and goals’ scoring abilities while being defensively responsible. He can and will drop the gloves if or when needed as well. In two seasons since the trade (one shortened by COVID), he has scored 36 goals in 121 regular season’s games, which is the equivalent of 24 goals over an 82-games season. The power forward has also lit the lamp five times during the Canadiens’ playoffs’ run last year.


Anderson loves playing in Montreal, in a hockey market. At the end of the season, he told every reporter that he did not want to be traded after the team’s horrible season. He wants to be part of the solution and, as he stated, he did not sign in Montreal for seven years to be traded after a couple of years.

Multiple times in the two seasons, he has shown leadership qualities. When he spoke to the media after the team’s poor effort, he has always backed his words by his actions, having a good game the following night. Many of us qualify him as a Brendan Gallagher on steroids. A hard working player making his opponents aware when he’s on the ice, a player who can hurt the opponents in many different ways.

Team Canada invited him to the World Championships this year, an invitation that Anderson accepted. The brass of Hockey Canada recognized the Canadiens’ forward’s leadership qualities when they gave him the title of assistant-captain of the team. And while they may not give him the captaincy in Montreal, it’s just a matter of time before the Canadiens imitate Team Canada and put an “A” on his jersey… as “A” is for Anderson.

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