ANAHEIM — It is the first letter of the Latin alphabet and takes residence throughout our lexicon so its importance is inherent. But the capitalized version is rather simplistic on the surface, two slanting lines meeting at an apex and connected by a horizontal line that forms much of its triangular shape.
Affix that to a hockey sweater and it takes on a significance that often commands respect, particularly with a team and its locker room.
Cam Fowler wore the “A” that represents the Ducks’ alternate captain for Sunday’s exhibition game against Vegas. He has done it on occasion in the past and will do so again, perhaps as long as the injured Ryan Kesler remains out of their lineup.
No final decision has been made on that, though Ducks coach Randy Carlyle considers him a certain candidate who’s under consideration. But as long as the letter appears on his jersey, Fowler sees it as an honor that he won’t take lightly.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” Fowler said Monday. “To me, I look at the guys around the league that have the opportunity to wear it. It’s core players, it’s guys that represent the team to their best ability on and off the ice.
“When I had the opportunity to wear it last year, it was special. To some guys, it might not mean a whole lot. But to me, it kind of means I’ve earned the respect of my coaching staff and the players around me. To me, that’s something that’s pretty cool.”
The Ducks have Ryan Getzlaf as their longtime captain, with Kesler and Corey Perry serving as the alternates. When either alternate is out of the lineup, another wears an “A” and Fowler has been among those to do so. But it isn’t far-fetched to think he might one day adorn a letter full-time, perhaps even the cherished “C” to succeed Getzlaf.
Fowler is a fixture, not only as the head of their defense. An eight-year contract extension that he and the Ducks agreed upon in July makes it so following other summers where his future with the team was defined by a question mark and not an exclamation point.
The added security further empowers him to take on a leadership role that he felt comfortable to begin taking on four years into the NHL.
“You have to really earn your kicks in this league and you have to go through some of those learning curves, which I certainly did,” Fowler said. “A lot of that prepared me for where I am now. I feel like the team around me, especially on the back end, that’s a point of leadership…