In more games than not, and far more than he would like, Gabe Landeskog said being the youngest captain in NHL history has felt like being "snowed in." The rookie Avalanche captain and second-year left wing, 20, repeatedly used those words in discussing how he has suffered in a season that has gone all wrong for himself and his teammates.
"I have been taking every loss more personally," Landeskog said. "In that way, it's easy to get too snowed in on a loss ... and it prevents you from moving on."
Landeskog, who suffered a concussion four games into the season, has just seven goals and 12 points in 26 games, and the Avs have a league-low 29 points. Landeskog is pointless in his last six games, with a minus-4 rating, and Colorado has lost 12 of its last 14.
"I'm not one to use the captaincy as an excuse for how I've been playing," said Landeskog, who won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year after producing a team-high 22 goals last season. "There have been more things to divide my focus upon, off the ice, more responsibility, a little more pressure of being a go-to guy, but for me, it hasn't been an excuse — at all.
"But it's easier to take (losing) personally than if I didn't have the C," he said, referring to the captain's insignia. "Again, I don't want to blame anything on the C. I've enjoyed having it, and I have learned a lot. If anything, I have realized you can get too snowed in on the captaincy, instead of being yourself. It's hard when the team isn't doing well. It's been hard to know what to do, and when to do it. I knew from Day One I wasn't going to be a perfect captain, but I believe I can still be a good one."
Avs coach Joe Sacco and legendary Colorado center and current executive advisor Joe Sakic — who withstood a 16-50-14 season in his first season as co-captain of the Quebec Nordiques in 1990-01 — both said Landeskog has done nothing wrong and will continue to serve as captain next season and beyond. In fact, they both say they admire how Landeskog has handled so much adversity.
"We don't want him to change at all, because he's captain because he's captain material," Sakic said Sunday. "He's just a tremendous leader. We know he's got the utmost respect from everybody in that dressing room, the coaching staff and everybody in the organization. He's just a kid who possesses all the qualities of leadership."