According to Steve Yzerman, who served as captain of the Detroit Red Wings for 20 years, the key is authenticity:
"You have to be yourself," he says. "I don't think there's any one particular personality that's right to be a captain of a team. Whether a guy is real vocal or real outgoing, I think is irrelevant."
Before the season, his first as coach of the SJ Sharks, Todd McLellan took Sharks captain Patrick Marleau (shown here) to dinner. It was over dinner that McLellan outlined his expectations for the team's captain.
In Coach McLellan's words, "I told him the role I expected him to fulfill... We don't need a cheerleader, and I think sometimes that's what the vision of a captain is, the rah-rah guy. We need a guy that, when he stands up, people get quiet, and they look at him, and they want to hear what he has to say. His actions have to match his words."
That brief discussion, says Marleau, was all it took:
"Having that conversation about what was expected out of me, he set it out and made it pretty simple for me to know what he needed."