When watching any team sport, if you look closely at the players, you’ll see that their jerseys all have the same pattern.
The individual’s given name (or family name), together with their jersey number, will be displayed on the back of the shirt, while the team logo will be displayed on the front.
You might also notice the logos of league sponsors if you look closely, although it depends on the sport you’re watching.
In the sport of ice hockey, and particularly in the National Hockey League, you may notice that certain players wear the letter C or A on the front of their jerseys.
The letter stands out against the primary color of the jersey, allowing for easy recognition.
Both the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Football League (NFL), which governs American football, use the letter “C” to designate the team captain.
However, the “A” is a component that is unique to hockey and does not appear in any other sport.
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What does the letter A stand for when it’s printed on a hockey jersey?
On a hockey jersey, the letter A denotes the alternate captain for the team. The Alternate Captain, much like the Captain, is granted special speaking privileges with the referee that normal players do not have.
Every game can have up to three alternate captains, or it can have two alternates and one captain instead.
Although some people call the player wearing the A the assistant captain, the term “assistant captain” does not appear anywhere in the official NHL rulebook as a “alternate” terminology.
In the event that the official captain is unable to participate in the conversation, the team will need the assistance of the alternate captains.
In the event that the team has not appointed a captain at all, however, the responsibility will be split between the alternates.
Every game needs to have at least one captain and one alternate, with a minimum of two alternate captains always being required.
It is essential to emphasize that the players in leadership roles are not permitted to abuse their authority by contesting decisions that have been made out on the ice.
In that case, they risk having an unsportsmanlike behavior penalty of two minutes assessed against them.
These players are not there to participate in the game; rather, they are there to listen to the interpretation of the referee so that they can communicate it to their bench coaches.
Plays such as major and match penalties, goals under review, and all-out brawls are examples of situations that frequently require more explanation.
Each team will send their representative by the referee crease. This might be the captain or the alternative captain.
The referee crease may be found in the neutral zone, directly across from where the player benches are situated.
You’ll observe the captains of both teams conversing with the officials in the area of the ice where the incident or call is being reviewed in depth. This will happen when an incident or call is being reviewed.
The remaining players are forbidden from approaching the referee crease in any way, and it is expected that they will remain on the bench of their respective teams.
Take note that no one, not even the team captain or any of the substitutes, is permitted inside the crease; they must remain outside it.
Off-Ice Role Substitute for the Captain Position
Players that are able to take charge of their teammates and serve as an example for them are given the opportunity to be captains or alternates by the coaches.
It is possible for the players to vote on who should be the team captain, or the head coach could choose the captain on their own.
When there isn’t a designated captain for the team, the alternatives either lead the group in unison or take turns being the main voice in the room.
Are Goalies in Hockey Allowed to Carry the A?
On the rink, goalies are not permitted to take on any leadership roles, including that of captain or alternate captain, according to the official rules.
Unofficially, the goalie may hold the leadership role, despite the fact that they do not have the privilege of playing on the ice. Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks are the most recent illustration of this phenomenon.
At that time, the entirety of the team acknowledged him as the team captain inside the locker room.
At one point, he even painted the letter “C” on the front of his helmet.
The truth of the matter is, however, that during the game only his teammates were allowed to approach the referee crease. As a result of this, those individuals on his team were promoted to the position of alternate captain.
Unfortunately for Luongo, the regulation that prohibits goalies from performing official “C” or “A” positions has been in place since the 1948-1949 season of the NHL.
Because Bill Durnan was the goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens for so many years, the regulation will be remembered in perpetuity as the “Durnan rule.”
During that time period, several teams voiced their displeasure with the fact that Durnan would communicate with the officials during particularly pivotal moments of the game.
He had a reputation for buying time for his teammates when they were in need of a break or wanted to slow down the momentum of the opponent.
In case you were curious, there have been a total of six goalies in NHL history who have held the position of team captain. Be sure to check out the post I wrote on my blog titled “How Many Captains are on an NHL Team?” to see the full list.
Are Managers and Coaches Allowed to Carry the A?
Bench coaches and managers are subject to the same restrictions as head coaches in that they are not permitted to wear the A.
If you haven’t already figured it out, this means that the letters “A” or “C” on a player’s jersey can only be worn by forwards, defenders, or a combination of the two.
A Few Parting Thoughts
The designation of alternate captain is always a fascinating topic of conversation.
When one of the other players in leadership suffers from an illness or injury, another player will be given the A.
You may find that different players take turns being in charge at various points. That is to say, they might wear the letter throughout one game, only for it to be taken off during the next.
It could be a test of one’s leadership abilities.
Is it possible that the alternates are actually future captains getting their feet wet?
When compared to their more experienced competitors, younger players frequently find themselves in this position.
The elimination of A or C and the selection of a new leader can have repercussions for the internal dynamics of each squad.
A promotion or a demotion could be inferred, respectively, from the inclusion of the letter or its omission from the sentence.
In any event, you must make sure to be present when the referees need to speak with the alternate captains (or captains), so that you may observe the conversation.
Plays that require additional explanation typically indicate that tempers are flaring either on the ice or behind the bench.
Q: What does the letter ‘A’ represent on a hockey jersey?
A: On a hockey jersey, the letter ‘A’ denotes the alternate captain for the team.
Q: Can goalies serve as team leaders in ice hockey?
A: Officially, goalies cannot take on any leadership roles, including that of captain or alternate captain. However, they may hold an unofficial leadership role off the ice.
Q: Are coaches allowed to wear the ‘A’ or ‘C’ on their jerseys?
A: No, coaches are not permitted to wear the ‘A’ or ‘C’ on their jerseys.
Q: Who determines the team captain in ice hockey?
A: The players can vote on who should be the team captain, or the head coach can choose the captain on their own.
Q: Can the alternate captain’s role in ice hockey be changed or rotated?
A: Yes, if a player in a leadership role suffers from illness or injury, another player will be given the ‘A’. Different players may also take turns being in charge at various points.
Q: Why Is The ‘a’ In Hockey Unique To Other Sports?
Unlike Other Sports, The ‘a’ In Hockey Represents The Alternate Captain, A Role Specific To This Sport. This Role Is Given Special Speaking Privileges With The Referee, Similar To The Captain.
Q: Can There Be More Than One Alternate Captain In A Hockey Game?
Yes, A Game Can Have Up To Three Alternate Captains, Or It Can Have Two Alternates And One Captain.
Q: How Do Captains and Alternate Captains Help Review Major Penalties and Goals?
During These Situations, The Captains Or Alternate Captains Will Converse With The Officials For A More In-Depth Explanation Of The Incident Or Call, Helping To Ensure Clear Communication With Their Team.