‘Everyone is leading the way, one way or another’: New Tommies captain excited for season ahead

Portrait of Peter Murphy, the St. Thomas University Women's Hockey coach. (Submitted: Keith Minchin)

On Sept. 11, the Vancouver Canucks named defenseman Quinn Hughes as their new captain, becoming only the 15th player in the franchise’s 53-year history to hold the coveted captaincy, as well as the second full-time defenceman to wear the “C.” 

“[This is a] significant milestone for the team, signifying a change of leadership and the identity of the team,” said general manager Patrick Allvin. “This isn’t just a reflection of Quinn’s exceptional talent on the ice; it’s also a reflection on him off the ice and his leadership qualities.”

Following the Canucks officially appointing Hughes as their new captain, there are still a handful of NHL teams yet to name a leader and some who won’t name one at all. The Chicago Blackhawks announced that they will only name assistant captains out of respect for former captain Jonathan Toews, who played his last game with the team in April. 

The gaps in captaincy in the NHL bring to the light the difficulty in choosing a captain. Just ask Peter Murphy, head coach of the St. Thomas women’s hockey team. He has three significant factors that he looks for, which ultimately go into a player taking on the leadership role. These factors include good academic standing, representing the school community and being a good athlete. 

“Someone who isn’t necessarily the top player on your team, but someone who gives it their all in practice on and off the ice,” said Murphy. 

Last year, the women’s hockey team did not have a team captain, since Murphy didn’t see anybody on the team who was an “absolute C.”

Instead, the team went with five assistant captains, including a goalie. 

Having a goalie serve as captain isn’t very common in the NHL, but is more common in the NCAA. 

However, this year is a bit different for the Tommies, as the coach named Ekaterina Pelowich as their captain for the 2023-24 U SPORT season. 

The fourth year from Stoufville, Ont. was chosen due to her work ethic both on and off the ice, as well as her recognition as an Academic All-Canadian. 

Murphy also alluded to the fact that she plays a lot of minutes for the Tommies either on the starting line or on the power play unit. Last year, she earned a spot as one of the five alternate captains. 

“It’s a true honour to be named captain,” said Pelowich. “It’s big shoes to fill, definitely.” 

After a disappointing 8-18-2 record last year, she has a good feeling about this season. 

“The team’s looking very good. The overall atmosphere is super good,” she said. “The work ethic is there, and everyone is leading in one way or another.”