SAN JOSE -- The Sharks' roster is, as Ozzy Osbourne once sang, "going through changes" now that Joe Pavelski has departed and the captaincy is currently vacant.
For the better part of the summer, fans and talking heads alike have speculated who the best candidate is to wear the "C" this coming season. On Friday, veteran center Joe Thornton offered his two cents when asked who might be next in line to lead San Jose.
"I think you have a lot of candidates," said Thornton, who has been both a captain and an alternate captain during his 14-season tenure with the Sharks.
He isn't wrong. It wasn't long after Pavelski agreed to a deal with the Dallas Stars at the start of free agency on July 1 that the discussion over the Sharks' captaincy took off. Multiple players on the team have been thrown into the conversation over the last couple of months, mainly because the Sharks have a bevy of players in their dressing room that could rise to the occasion.
"You've got Burns, you've got Erik (Karlsson), you've got Tommy (Tomas Hertl)," Thornton began listing. "I'm probably leaving off some names. But all of these guys are great leaders."
The player whose name has been floated around the most has been Logan Couture, who Thornton agreed could be ready to fill the vacancy. As NBC Sports California discussed back in July, Couture seemed to take over some leadership duties last season whenever Pavelski was sidelined with injuries. While he would undoubtedly lead the team differently, the top-line center still seems like the most likely candidate for the position previously held by Pavelski.
When asked about the departure of Captain America, Thornton had nothing but good things to say.
"He's a good friend to all the guys in here and he's a good captain," Thornton complimented. "We're definitely going to miss him. He's going to be happy in Dallas. We've got to move on, but he was a great Shark and it was an honor to play with him."
Thornton, who at 40 years old is still considered one of the driving forces the team, sported an "A" as an alternate captain last season. In fact, Jumbo Joe served as an alternate all four seasons Pavelski captained the ship, which followed four seasons when Thornton wore the "C" himself.
Not surprisingly, Thornton was asked on Friday if he would like to wear a letter for another season, to which No. 19 chuckled and shrugged.
"Oh, it doesn't matter to me," he said with a smile.
Ultimately, Sharks' coach Peter DeBoer has the final say on who the team's next captain will be. Thornton appears confident that whoever it is will be up to the task.
"I'm sure whoever gets it is going to be honored and is going to do a great job for us."