Non-Canadian-Born Captains to Win the Stanley Cup

The Hockey Writers

On Monday, June 24, 2024, the Florida Panthers captured their first Stanley Cup title in a thrilling Game 7 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman came out to hand over hockey’s Holy Grail, he called captain Aleksander Barkov to the podium and handed off the 132-year-old trophy.

When the Tampere, Finland native hoisted the Cup, he became the 10th skater in league history to be captain of a championship team born outside of Canada. For almost 60 years, from 1939 to 1998, only captains born in Canada led their teams to a title win. In the past 25 years, the number has dipped a little, with eight non-Canadian captains winning, including three of the past seven.

Related: Notable NHL Captains Who Got Traded

Since the formation of the NHL in 1917-18, a Canadian player has been captain of a Stanley Cup winner on 96 occasions, or 90% of the time. Of course, many of these players were multi-time champions like Sidney Crosby (three), Wayne Gretzky (four), Jean Beliveau (10), and Alex Delvecchio (three).

Considering how difficult it is to win the Stanley Cup, let alone serve as captain of a winning team, let’s revisit the previous times someone born outside of Canada led their franchise to a championship.

Aleksander Barkov – Finland (2024)

Barkov was the second overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and has played his entire career with the Panthers, debuting in 2013-14. After 11 seasons, he’s now a two-time Selke Trophy winner (2021 and 2024) and former Lady Byng Award winner (2019).

In 2018-19, Barkov was named captain of the Panthers, assuming the duties from Derek MacKenzie. With his promotion to locker room leader, he became the ninth captain in team history, following in the footsteps of Ed Jovanovski, Olli Jokinen, Scott Mellanby, and Brian Skrudland.

In 2023, Barkov led Florida to the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games, while Skrudland led the franchise to the 1996 Final, where the Colorado Avalanche swept them.

Gabriel Landeskog – Sweden (2022)

Gabriel Landeskog was the second overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, debuting at 19 and winning the Calder Trophy and All-Rookie honors. In his second season, the Avalanche promoted him to captain, a role he’s had ever since. However, once he won the Stanley Cup in 2022, Landeskog hasn’t skated in a single game, forcing his team to employ several alternate captains in his absence. Despite playing through a significant knee injury in the playoffs that year, the native of Stockholm became only the second Swedish-born captain to lead his team to victory.

Alex Ovechkin – Russia (2018)

Alex Ovechkin enters the 2024-25 season just 41 goals shy of the game’s record, held by Canadian Wayne Gretzky with 894. As arguably the greatest Russian-born (Moscow) player of all time, the three-time Hart Trophy winner only missed a Stanley Cup on his Hall of Fame resume through his first 13 seasons. The former first-overall selection in the 2004 Entry Draft eventually led the Washington Capitals to a championship in June 2018. After 80 years, Ovechkin became the second Russian-born captain to achieve the feat.

Dustin Brown – United States (2012, 2014)

Dustin Brown is the only non-Canadian-born captain in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup more than once, leading the Los Angeles Kings to their two championships in 2012 and 2014. As the 13th overall pick in the 2003 Entry Draft, he would become the franchise leader in games played until his long-time teammate Anze Kopitar broke his record in 2023-24.

Dustin Brown Los Angeles Kings owner Philip Anschutz 2014 Stanley Cup
Los Angeles Kings owner Phillip Anschutz and captain Dustin Brown. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Brown retired after the 2022 season, the Kings honored his career by retiring his number and unveiling a statue of him hoisting the Stanley Cup outside Arena. The one-time All-Star and native of Ithaca, NY, won the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2013-14.

Zdeno Chara – Czechia (2011)

Zdeno Chara is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who was captain of the Boston Bruins in 2011 and ended a 39-year Stanley Cup drought. As one of the tallest players to ever play in the NHL, he won the Mark Messier Leadership Award (2011) and the Norris Trophy (2009) and was a seven-time All-Star. Since Chara spent 14 seasons wearing a Bruins uniform, the former third-round pick (56th overall) is closely associated with the team and active in the community. As of 2024, he remains the only captain born in Czechia (Trencin) to hoist the Stanley Cup as captain.

Nicklas Lidström – Sweden (2008)

Nicklas Lidström was drafted in the third round (53rd overall) in the 1989 Entry Draft and is one of the greatest defensemen to play in the NHL. Throughout his 20-year career with the Detroit Red Wings, he was a member of four Stanley Cup championships, in 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008, serving as captain the last one.

Related: 10 NHL Players with the Most Stanley Cups

Outside of Bobby Orr’s record eight Norris Trophy wins, Lidström ranks second, in a tie with Doug Harvey, with seven. When he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002, he became the first non-North American-born player to be named playoff MVP. As of 2024, Lidström, born in Vasteras, Sweden, remains one of two skaters on this list inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Derian Hatcher – United States (1999)

Derian Hatcher is another former first-round pick (8th overall, 1990) to become captain of a Stanley Cup-winning team. The native of Sterling Heights, Michigan, played the first 12 years of his career with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise, becoming captain in 1995. When the Stars won their only title in 1999, Hatcher became the first American-born captain to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Johnny Gottselig – Soviet Union/Russia (1938)

Johnny Gottselig was born on June 24, 1905. However, his Wikipedia page indicates he is from Klosterdorf, Russian Empire, while his Hockey-Reference profile states he’s from Odessa, Russia. Either way, at 23, he came to North America and played 16 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, winning the Stanley Cup in 1934 and 1938, serving as team captain from 1935 to 1940. When he led the Blackhawks to a second championship, Gottselig became only the third non-Canadian-born captain of a winning team, a spot he held for 60 years until Hatcher joined him on the list in 1999.

Charlie Gardiner – Scotland (1934)

Charlie “Chuck” Gardiner was born in 1904 in Edinburgh, Scotland. By 1927, he was between the pipes for the Blackhawks, playing for the organization for seven seasons, winning the Vezina Trophy twice (1932 and 1934) and becoming a four-time All-Star. In 1934, Gardiner was promoted to captain, leading the team to a Stanley Cup title, retiring after the victory. Over a decade later, he was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Class of 1945.

Dunc Munro – United Kingdom (1926)

Dunc Munro, who hailed from Moray, United Kingdom, played eight seasons in the NHL, seven with the Montreal Maroons and one with the Montreal Canadiens. In 1926, he was the captain of the Maroons, who beat the Ottawa Senators in a two-game Stanley Cup Final. With the win, Munro became the first non-Canadian-born captain of a Stanley Cup-winning team in NHL history, an achievement that occurred almost 100 years ago.

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