Quinn Hughes knows he may be discounted because of his age, but the Vancouver Canucks’ newest captain is determined to show his worth as a leader.
The Canucks named the defenceman as their 15th captain in franchise history.
Hughes is the first defenceman to hold the honour for Vancouver since a three-player rotation during the 1990-91 season that included blue-liner Doug Lidster.
The last full-time defenceman to don the “C” in Vancouver was Kevin McCarthy from 1979 to 1982.
“It’s an incredible honour, it’s something I never dreamt of,” said Hughes at a press conference introducing him as the newest captain in franchise history.
“I’m never going to be the loudest guy in the room. I’m hopefully going to be a guy who’s a leader through his work ethic and as time goes on, learn more and more about myself and being a leader.”
Forwards Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller along with goaltender Thatcher Demko — who with Hughes act as the team’s leadership group — were in contention for the vacant position, but Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said Hughes displayed qualities he was seeking in a captain.
“He mixes with everybody. As a captain you mix in with everybody. He said some uncomfortable things he had to say when some things didn’t go well or even put himself out there,” said Tocchet. “That’s what I like about this leadership group, they’re not afraid to say something to me.”
Hughes served as an assistant captain for the first time during the 2022-23 season, during which the 23-year-old recorded seven goals and 69 assists in 78 games.
The Canucks normally announce a captain with fanfare at a home game, with former team captains and alumni in attendance.
By contrast, Hughes’ press conference was an understated affair, held on a Monday morning with little warning ahead of time, which was purposeful said general manager Patrik Allvin.
“There’s been a lot of respect to captains here in the past but we wanted to get off to a fresh start here, turning the page and building on the momentum of last year. And that’s why we want to embrace a new leadership group here and the captain prior to training camp,” said Allvin.
Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Demko, Miller and Pettersson were all in attendance at the press conference.
Allvin and Tocchet both stressed the role of a leadership group helping Hughes, who is the second youngest NHL captain behind 23-year-old Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk.
Hughes said he’s confident he has a group of coaches and players in Vancouver and elsewhere in the league that he can lean on for advice as he grows into his role.
“I never want to be a guy who stops learning … just talking to Brady yesterday and I don’t know if there’s another guy who’s in my shoes, he’s a young guy in Canadian market and he’s captain and we grew up together,” he said.
Hughes also referred to talking to his brothers — Jack and Luke Hughes, who play for the New Jersey Devils — along with Tocchet and assistant coach Adam Foote.
Hughes was a first-round pick (seventh overall) in the 2018 draft by the Canucks. He has 241 points (26 goals, 215 assists) in 283 career games.