While much of the conversation around the next Buffalo Sabres captain has (rightfully) focused on Kyle Okposo, Alex Tuch is another worthy candidate who should be considered for the honor.
Let me be clear: this is in no way a slight against Okposo. He is absolutely deserving of the captaincy, and both his on- and off-ice presence is huge for the team. But, if the Sabres were to go in a different direction, Tuch would be my first choice for the honor.
First & foremost, his passion for the Sabres is clear - and part of that stems from his years growing up as a fan of the team. There’s no doubt that he has a special connection to this organization, not just now, but its history, too. From his first interviews as a member of the Sabres where he pretty much gushed about Buffalo and the team’s history, to how he treated Rick Jeanneret on the ice after his honorary game, to his interview on locker cleanout day, Tuch’s heart and soul is clearly with the Sabres franchise.
Watching this interview between Tuch and Matt Bove made it hard not to appreciate him. Tuch & I are nearly the same age, so we grew up in the same Sabres era. Hearing him talk about his memories of the team brought up memories of my own, and it’s a special component of the whole situation that makes it extra special.
In his locker cleanout interview, Tuch’s leadership shines through. It’s not just about playing for the Sabres - it’s about playing for the city of Buffalo, about creating that positive culture within the organization and believing in what the team is capable of. You can’t teach that kind of leadership; you either have it, or you don’t, and Tuch does.
The other piece of the off-ice component is the expectations that Tuch faced when coming to Buffalo. His skills speak for themselves, but just like with Peyton Krebs, being involved in a blockbuster trade that’s the talk of the town can’t be easy. Certainly, for some players, being involved in such a deal would be challenging, but Tuch (and Krebs, to his credit) handled it incredibly well and showed up for their new team without any hesitation.
It’s more than just the on-ice performance, but even when we look at that, Tuch is a great candidate. He missed part of last season after having shoulder surgery in July 2021, then got traded, and finally made his Sabres debut in December.
His impact was felt almost instantaneously, with four points in his first four games and 10 points in his first nine games. He wasted no time getting right into it offensively with his new team and over the course of the next 50 games, showed why he was part of that trade. He played decent minutes, was often involved offensively and made the players around him better, too.
His play, along with that of his teammates, also helped revive a spark in Sabres fans that had laid dormant for a while. From the moment he returned to Buffalo, Tuch was clearly excited to be here, and it’s a palpable excitement that rubs off on people.
With all of the rightful hype around him, and his skills on the ice, it’s easy to forget that Tuch is still only 26 years old. (Newly 26, even.) In the hockey world, that’s not the youngest, but he still has probably at least 10 years of playing career ahead of him, and he could easily play that whole time in Buffalo if things work out.
As the Sabres build this younger core of guys like Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson, Krebs, JJ Peterka, Jack Quinn, having a guy like Tuch who is seasoned but still on the younger side as their leadership could be just what they need to give them that extra push to success.
Let’s stitch a C on this guy’s jersey, already.