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Senators' Smith doesn't expect team to name captain next season

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Ottawa Senators head coach D.J. Smith doesn't foresee the club sewing the "C" on anyone's jersey in 2020-21.

"It's not going to happen (next) season," Smith told Postmedia's Bruce Garrioch. "I can't say 'not,' but as of right now we're not planning on it. We're going to transition some of the younger guys into a leadership role."

Budding stars Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk are possible candidates but Smith doesn't anticipate either one becoming the captain anytime soon.

"I think everyone knows Chabot and Tkachuk are the guys pushing from the bottom," he added. "I don't see that happening this year. I see more of a group mentality where you're going to have to have people with leadership up front and leadership on the back end. Part of being a young team is maybe the coach has to be a leader maybe for one more year."

Smith doesn't feel the need to put added pressure on a relatively inexperienced player for a team that isn't contending.

"It's real tall order for a young guy to be a captain in a rebuild situation," he said. "You're constantly being asked the questions and you may not have the answers (because) you haven't been through it. It's not fair for a 21-, 22-, 23-year-old kid to have to answer those questions. That's why I think you see a lot of times these guys who are captains have been through it and have been through the experience.

"They've been through a rebuild, been through winning and losing, and they know what's possibly coming next. It's unfair to rush that on a guy and that's where we're at."

Chabot led Ottawa in average ice time this season with 26 minutes per game. The 23-year-old also paced the team in assists and ranked second in shots on goal and fifth in points. The 2019-20 campaign was his third in the NHL after the Senators selected him 18th overall in 2015.

Tkachuk led all Senators skaters with 44 points in 2019-20. He also topped the team and ranked eighth in the league with 259 shots on goal. Tkachuk played his second NHL campaign this past season after Ottawa drafted him fourth overall in 2018.

The Senators haven't had a captain since trading superstar Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks in September 2018.

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