It's the day Sharks fans have been dreading for weeks now. After 13 seasons of rocking teal, Joe Pavelski is headed to the Lone Star State to play for the Dallas Stars.
The move is, of course, an emotional one. But as Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in his statement earlier Monday, "Under a cap system, these extremely difficult separations are a reality and, unfortunately, we could not find common ground on dollars and term to keep Joe in San Jose."
Pavelski's departure doesn't just leave a hole on offense. It also leaves a vacancy at the captain designation.
So the question moving forward is, of course, who will be the next Shark to rock the "C"?
While nothing is set in stone, the most likely candidate heading into next season is Logan Couture. The top-line center served as an alternate captain under Pavelski and seemed to take over some of the other captainly duties -- at least as far as addressing the media went -- when Pavelski was sidelined with injuries last season.
As one of San Jose's veteran players, he leads as an offensive force on the ice and as a voice of reason off of it. Couture also doesn't pull any punches when it comes to pinpointing where the Sharks are lacking if the team is going through a slump -- a good quality in any leader.
Keep in mind, Couture would captain the Sharks' ship differently than Pavelski did. And with a significant change in personnel, the dynamic in San Jose's dressing room is primed for a shakeup. Nevertheless, Couture seems like a good fit for the job.
Of course, that would leave at least one alternate captain position open on the team. Brent Burns has subbed in as an alternate captain over the last couple of seasons and seems like a lock to wear the "A" permanently now -- if not also a contender for the captaincy himself. No. 88 is regarded as one of the vocal leaders on the team, so keeping him in a leadership role makes sense.
Now, there's also the (likely) possibility that Joe Thornton returns to Team Teal and wears the other "A". Jumbo Joe has remained a leader in the Sharks' dressing room even after being stripped of the "C" a few year's back. Thornton has made it clear he wants to play for at least one more season and Wilson has said they want to have him back. In that case, the vet will likely retain that "A" on his sweater.
Others who could be in the mix? Marc-Edouard Vlasic's name will surely be brought up, given his tenure in San Jose's dressing room and that he has served as an alternate captain for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships in the past.
It may be a stretch, but if there is a young player on the roster who could wiggle into an alternate captain role, it could be Tomas Hertl. The Czech forward took on a lot of responsibility last season with moving into a new role as a center and put a lot of pressure on himself to grow his game when Pavelski was out of the lineup. He also took it upon himself to help out two Czech rookies in Radim Simek and Lukas Radil get acclimated to the team. Moving into a bigger leadership role may seem a bit farfetched, but it isn't out of the question.
Of course, this is just speculation. Pavelski was a vocal leader and his departure is going to change the complexion of San Jose's locker room and how it's captained.
For the time being, however, this looks like the most likely evolution of the Sharks' captaincy.