Welcome earlier to Peculiar side of Sports. Every so often something in sporting activities perplexes me. So, I do what any kind of normal, sane sporting activities fan go – i search advertisement nauseam because that the price by any means necessary. The good news is that i take every my tough work and relay the outcomes to you. If you room a fan of sports History, examine out the other short articles I have written – “Sports History” covering virtually all major sports.

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Most hockey fans will call to mind that the letter “C” top top a player’s jersey stands for “Captain”. Castle should additionally know the a jersey with an “A” ~ above the chest denotes one “Alternate”, a player who, once on the ice, deserve to speak on instead of of the team as soon as the captain is unavailable. Clearly the term has actually been offered in sports lot older 보다 hockey, however what I want to discover is when those terms and letters became a component of our game.

Have they been used because the league’s inception? probably they to be used before the formation of the national Hockey League? What if it was used at amateur levels very first before being embraced by the professionals? to be the roles the same as they space now?


To begin the search, I normally looked an initial through the history of the league’s oldest team, the Montreal Canadiens, to determine their very first “captain”. The very first team captain was Jack Laviolette, who also served as coach and general manager. Laviolette, who was a member of the Montreal Canadiens as soon as the NHL was formed in 1917, was likewise captain of the team before the development of the NHL once the Canadiens play in the defunct NHA (from which the NHL is derived).

While the raises other questions, one thing we can create is that the hatchet “captain” predates the NHL. (Check my write-up on the background of the “C H” top top Habs jerseys)

Rather than sifting v rosters of each team start with the 1917 development of the NHL and also working backwards, I decided to by-pass numerous leagues completely in really hopes of finding sufficient information around the really earliest leagues.

While I absence some primary evidence that would have definitely made the quest completely simpler, I was able to uncover a rule book from a organization that began in 1886 – Amateur Hockey combination of Canada. In ~ the rules, over there is conversation of players’ roles, and also team “captain” was included. Interestingly, the captains of each team had actually the duty of assigning a referee and also goal judges to monitor each net. The captain was also assigned the job of determining a player’s health, and if the player was understood unfit, they would assign a player native the to make reservation to take his spot. Bench football player were originally reserves, but not in the same way as this day where they are assigned move and adjusted on the fly. Generally the 7 football player on the ice cream (this was the time of “rovers”, would play the vast bulk of the game).


While ns had proof that the very an initial leagues had captains — the very first two groups were the Montreal Victorias and McGill College, and each determined a team captain — there to be no mention of an alternating captain, no one did I find early use of letter as they are used today to identify the captain and alternates from other players.

Perhaps among the much more fascinating reads in my find was a handbook published in 1899 called, “Hockey: Canada’s imperial Winter Game”. The over-100-page handbook is an incredible overview to hockey in ~ the revolve of the ahead century. In it, over there is cite of the word captain, yet nowhere go it cite the letter “C” differentiating the player native the rest. I additionally could no find point out of an an alternate to change the captain.

One interesting tidbit; friend know just how some get perplexed with the definition of the “A” and assume it method “assistant”? It appears that, at the very least in its original intended use, they aren’t totally wrong. In the very same hockey handbook indigenous 1899, a captain had actually assistants. The duty wasn’t plainly defined as the captain’s function was, and it seems they didn’t replace a captain, however instead to be someone the captain could consult once needed. Perhaps it can be claimed that there is evidence that the word “assistant” predates “alternate” in hockey.

Frustrated in not having discovered evidence of as soon as letters began showing up on jerseys, I started the arduous task of looking v team photos come narrow under the very first instances where I uncovered letters on jerseys. My hope was that the letters could correspond with the fostering of “alternate” together a role. The so take place that letters started to show up after WWII in the 1946-47 season. Rules were plainly changed for that season and dictated that all groups were to identify captains through a “C” and also alternates with an “A”(Duplacey, 1996). Finally a concrete answer.

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From the present NHL main Rules (NHL.com)

Section 2, Rule 6 – Captain and alternating Captains

6.1 Captain – One Captain shall it is in appointed by each team, and also he alone shall have the privilege of mentioning with the Referee any kind of questions relating to interpretation of rule which might arise during the progress of a game. He shall stay the letter “C,” around three customs (3”) in height and in contrasting color, in a conspicuous place on the prior of his sweater. No co-Captains room permitted. One of two people one Captain and also no more than two alternate Captains, or no Captain an no more than three alternative Captains are permitted (see 6.2). Only the Captain, when invited to execute so through the Referee, shall have the privilege of mentioning any suggest relating come the interpretation of rules. Any kind of Captain, alternating Captain or any player that comes off the bench and also makes any protest or intervention with the officials for any type of purpose shall be assessed a minor penalty because that unsportsmanlike conduct under preeminence 40 – Abuse of Officials. Need to this protest continue, he might be assessed a misconduct penalty, and also if it additional continues, a video game misconduct punish shall it is in warranted. A complaint about a penalty is not a matter “relating to the interpretation of the rules” and also a minor penalty shall it is in imposed against any Captain, alternate Captain or any kind of other player making such a complaint. The Referee and also Official Scorer shall it is in advised, before the begin of each game, the name of the Captain and the alternate Captains the both teams. No play Coach or play Manager or goalkeeper candlestick be permitted to act as Captain or alternating Captain.

6.2 alternating Captains – If the irreversible Captain is no on the ice, alternative Captains (not more than two) shall it is in accorded the privileges the the Captain. Alternating Captains candlestick wear the letter “A” roughly three inch (3”) in height and also in difference color, in a conspicuous place on the prior of their sweaters. Only once the Captain is no in uniform, the Coach shall deserve to designate three alternate Captains. This need to be done prior to the begin of the game. Source: Duplacey, James. “The Annotated rules of Hockey”. Lyons & Burford: Toronto. 1996. Key Photo:


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