Flyers’ Sean Couturier becomes 20th captain in franchise history

For the first time in nearly two years, the Philadelphia Flyers have a captain.

Sean Couturier, 31, was named as the 20th captain in Flyers history Wednesday, the first player to wear the ‘C’ for the club since Claude Giroux was traded on March 19, 2022. Scott Laughton will continue to serve as an alternate captain, while Travis Konecny will be the other alternate. Couturier is in the second year of an eight-year, $62 million contract.

“Sean Couturier is an ideal choice to be the next leader of the Philadelphia Flyers,” general manager Daniel Briere said in a statement. “Sean was drafted here and has made Philadelphia his home. I have personally seen his development from a responsible forward to one of the best two-way centerman in the game and a playoff performer. The adversity he has had to overcome has only strengthened his proven leadership.”

The adversity Briere is referring to is Couturier missing all of last season, and most of the 2021-22 season, due to multiple back surgeries. Couturier has played in 50 of Philadelphia’s 54 games this season, though, and is third on the team in scoring with 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists).

Couturier, who won the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward in 2020, is the Flyers’ longest-tenured player. He’s fifth in games played in franchise history (771), and is one of just five players to play at least 12 seasons with the team. The eighth pick in the 2011 draft by Philadelphia, Couturier has 191 goals and 302 assists for 493 points and a career plus-89 rating.

“It’s such a great honor,” Couturier said in a statement. “It’s a really prestigious organization so this makes it even more special. This city is my home and I love it here. It’s going to be business as usual for me. Nothing is really going to change from me or my game and how I approach things. I love my teammates, how we have grown as a group and I want to make sure we keep going on the right path here.”

Interestingly, coach John Tortorella reiterated before the Flyers’ season opener in Columbus on Oct. 12 that the organization didn’t plan on naming a captain this season.

“We’re keeping it status quo for the year,” Tortorella said then. “I want to allow people to feel that they have the opportunity to say something. … You start putting letters on people because you think you need to put letters on people, it may stunt some other people. So, we’re going to leave that wide open.”

Presumably, Philadelphia being better than expected this season moved up the organizational timeline to name a new captain. Winners of four straight headed into Thursday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Flyers are in third place in the Metropolitan Division with a 29-19-6 record. A team many picked to finish last in its division this season has put itself in a position to make the postseason for the first time since the 2020 bubble.

The 26-year-old Konecny, Philadelphia’s leading scorer with 25 goals and 49 points in 54 games, will be wearing a letter for the first time in his career. Laughton, 29, who had been the only player wearing a letter for the team this season, has been an alternate since the start of the 2022-23 season.

Required reading

(Photo: Kyle Ross / USA Today)

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