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Camp Preview IV: Follow the Leader

August 19th: Defending the Prize
August 26th: No offense Taken
September 2nd: Put me in coach
September 9th: Follow the leader

As part of the camp preview it’s impossible not to talk about the fact that both Sabres captains have moved on to new teams.  That leaves a leadership void on the team and someone will need to step up.  The question remains as to who will step up and fill that role this season.  There are plenty of people to choose from but who is the best choice.  I think many players will help fill the void but they should definitely choose one captain.  The rotating captain has been tried and it didn’t work.

Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy hit the financial windfall this offseason but does that make them options for captain?  Vanek is a player who can obviously lead in offensive statistics but doesn’t seem to be a true leader.  Vanek is often seen taking a play or two off while his teammates are back checking.  Derek Roy could someday be a leader but he needs to shake the reputation of being a diver before he can be looked up to by his teammates.

Adam Mair is guy who has become a fan favorite and many fans would like to see as the captain.  I think this comes from the fact that you see Adam Mair play hard all the time and never give up on any play.  He is also the guy that will bang people around in an attempt to fire up his team.  He has great leadership qualities but is not the best choice for the captain of this team.

Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman are a solid defensive tandem who lead on the ice, Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht are also guys who go all while on the ice but I wouldn’t choose any of them to be the next captain of the team.  As is evident in breaking the roster the Sabres will not suffer from a void in leadership.  Chris Drury and Daniel Briere wore the "C" on their chest but this is a team full of leaders.  The same can be said about this years team.

Paul Gaustad is a guy who has proved to be a leader both on and off the ice.  He leads by example and will stick up for teammates if necessary.  He has come along way in a short amount of time while playing for the Sabres.  I’m not ready to anoint him the next captain but I would make him an assistant and see how he responds to the challenge.  The letter on the sweater is purely symbolic but you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think that guys don’t take pride in it.

Brian Campbell is probably ready to be the captain of this team but it’s not his turn yet.  Campbell has been extremely impressive since the lockout and is a big reason for the Sabres success the past two seasons.  Campbell has always been known for his offensive talent and creativity but this season he came into his own as a defensive player as well.  I can’t imagine a Sabres team without Brian Campbell playing.  I think the Sabres will put an "A" on Campbell this season and watch him develop.

This year the Sabres will be best served by naming Teppo Numminen as their captain.  Numminen is a guy who has been a steady defenseman throughout his career and has played well in Buffalo for two seasons.  I think naming an old guy captain is overrated but this situation is different.  Numminen was captain in Phoenix and knows what it takes to be the guy.  He is a steady if not spectacular defenseman.  He quietly puts up good numbers year in and year out while other players get all the glory.

Truth be told it isn’t going to matter who is named the captain of this squad.  This team was constructed very well by Darcy Regier to be a talented team full of born leaders.  The Buffalo Sabres are constructed with a number of people who would be good captains and just need to continue to improve on a yearly basis.  There isn’t another team in the league who can boast at having such good young talent like the Sabres do.  In just a short time we’ll know who the Sabres captain will be and watch them take the ice for