The A that is seen on a hockey jersey stands for alternate captain. An alternate captain is essentially the second in command behind the captain. The captain himself will have a “C” on his right shoulder to display to the referees that he is the captain.
What Is The Role Of An Alternate Captain
The role of the alternate captain is essentially to step up and fill in the captain’s duties if he is away from the ice for any reason. Whether that means talking to the referees when he’s on the bench. Or providing moral for the teammates when the captain is injured.
Speaking To The Referees
One aspect that alternate captains will have to take care of when the captain is on the bench is speaking to the referees. Refs do not tend to like when a large number of players surround them to argue a call.
For this reason, it has become commonplace that the captain of the team assumes the role of speaking to the refs.
When the captain is not on the ice it is up to the alternate captains to handle this duty. This can be an important role for the team as you have the responsibility to communicate for your entire team.
These sorts of conversations don’t typically change any calls on the ice. But they can still be helpful for keeping the refs aware of any gripes you may have with the opposing team. This can be beneficial as the referees may notice what you spoke of and generate a powerplay for your team.
Leading Your Teammates
The other aspect of being an alterante captain in hockey is that you will have a leadership role. The captain of course is going to be the main leader of the team. But the alternates must still pull their weight.
It is also important to mention leading your teammates doesn’t necessarily mean you are offering inspiring speeches. Captains like Connor Mcdavid prefer to lead by example meaning they let their play on the ice speak for itself.
As an alternate captain, you may assume the role of leading your teammates through speeches or you may be lead by example. Either way, an alternate must be ready to step up if the captain is going to be away from the team for any period of time.
How Many Alternate Captains Can A Team Have?
The typical amount of alternate captains an NHL team has is two. That being said if you decide to forgo the captain position you will be able to have three alternates on your team.
In this situation, you would have three players with an “A” stitched on their jersey and no player with a “C”. Though the three alternate captain rule in the NHL is not present in all leagues.
In international play as well as American amateur hockey you will find there will only be two alternate captains. These leagues state there must be one captain with a “C” and two alternates with an “A”. The number of alternates does not change if a captain hasn’t been named or cannot play.
Several other junior leagues also have different interpretations of the alternate captain rules. The OHL, QMJHL, and the WHL all use three alternate captains as well as a regular captain.
If the captain is out of the lineup for the game the teams are not allowed to add in a fourth alternate captain.
Can Goalies Be Alternate Captains?
No goalies in the NHL are not allowed to be alternate captains or even captains at all. Some teams still consider their goalie the unofficial captain and for this reason, they have no player wearing a “C” on their jersey.
The reason goalies are not allowed to be captains goes all the way back to 1974 when the Durnan rule was put into place. Bill Durnan was a goalie for the Montreal Canadians and was also the team’s captain.
The issue was the since Durnan was the captain it was his responsibility to speak with the referees. Durnan took advantage of this and skated out of his net to argue with the referees. These arguments became so common that the other team began to complain the Canadians were essentially getting free timeouts.
For this reason, the Durnan rule was put into place so that goalies could no longer be the team captain. And since it is the responsibility of the alternate to speak to the ref if the captain isn’t there. This rule also disallowed goalies from being alternate captains.
We hope that this guide to alternate captains has answered the question “What Is The A On A Hockey Jersey”. If you have any more questions regarding hockey captains or alternates please reach out in the comments below.