Friday, September 18, 2015

Leading the troops

When dissecting the Regina Pats pre-season outlook and thoughts coming into the regular season, I made a point of pointing out that it was likely that twenty year old Colby Williams would've been the obvious choice for the Regina Pats captaincy. It was all but a foregone conclusion. With Williams suffering a potential season ending injury this has greatly complicated matters for Head Coach and General Manager John Paddock in deciphering the best fit to lead this young hockey club through the gauntlet known as the Regular Season. Williams has been a long serving member of the Pats organization and he has seen the decent times, ie the 2014-2015 campaign, and some tenures that had the supporters of this prestigious franchise very restless but through all the pros and cons, we saw Williams grow as a player which led to is surprise getting selected by the Washington Capitals in the 2015 National Hockey League entry draft. So who's the next lad in line? We will discuss below,

With Colby out of the running and fellow twenty year old Taylor Cooper expected out until at least Christmas, unless the Pats wanted to set a precedent by naming twenty year old goaltender Daniel Wapple the captain which isn't likely, it's  safe to say that a twenty year old will not be leading the charge. Who else has may have the fortitude to confidently take over the captaincy? Three names specifically come to mind. Adam Brooks plight with the organization has been a fascinating one as for whatever reason he wasn't given the playing time to succeed under previous regimes coached by Malcolm Cameron and Pat Conacher but was finally giving tangible opportunity under John Paddock My impression of Brooks the first couple of years was he was a player similar to a player that lives in infamy due to poor play, Dominik Favreau. A good skater, arguably great skater but didn't have the necessary hockey I.Q to be an elite WHL scorer. That all changed under the guidance of Paddock as Brooks was a changed man last season. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native showed a penchant for using his speed for controlling the play and in many ways he made Pavel Padakin, who I thought  was a tremendous fit as one of the two Europeans on the roster last year and seventeen year Austin Wagner better hockey players and I would imagine Wagner has Brooks to thank as Wagner's strong second half was parlayed into a NHL draft selection. Will Brooks get it, maybe, maybe not. He's not my personal choice but is definitely full fledged in the conversation. My choice still to come.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native Connor Hobbs will be looked at as the team leader because of what it took to acquire him from the Medicine Hat Tigers. Hobbs, who was brought in from the aforementioned Tigers for Kyle Burroughs and Dryden Hunt will be looked upon to be the number one defenceman on a very young unit and my thought process for wanting to include him for consideration is that if you're under the presumption that he's here for the next two or three years, why not give him the reigns early and let him run with it? The philosophy is that although we're not sure what kind of  leadership intangible he possesses off the ice but sometimes to keep a top player happy, sticking the "C" on the front of the sweater is the best solution. I hate to label him as a player of this character without fully knowing but the idea has merit as why not make the best player at least on defence take on greater responsibilities. But, like any great lead-on, you'll have to keep reading to find out my ultimate selection for team captain.

Think Connor McDavid and Ryan Murray, two players that were named team captains prior to their National Hockey League draft year. McDavid and Murray, the Erie Otter McDavid in particular was naturally a hyped teen phenomenon long before he arrived in the Ontario Hockey League and it's completely unfair to paint McDavid and Regina Pats "phenom" Sam Steel under the same brush but ths is the kind of world we live in where expectations are generally overblown as they were when Steel entered the league. This is why Paddock would be best advised to throw the captaincy Steel's way....A)entering his sophomore campaign, a lot of players in the past have broken out at the age of seventeen and it's very plausible that Steel could finish the year with the team's most points barring any significant injury B)As I eluded to earlier, the precedent with junior and professional organizations prematurely awarding captaincy to the young up and comers, just look at Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews and Colorado Avalanche's Gabriel Landeskog getting named captain at an early age and you'll be able to ascertain that this is becoming an all too common trend and C) it's the goals and aspirations of the franchise that need to be accounted for when making this important decision. John Paddock has gone on record, and this is an issue I've recently brought up on this blog and that is that he's targeting the 2016-2017 season as a year he views as possibly a golden year for the organization. With that in mind, he's under the directive that by that time Sam Steel, Jake Leschyshyn and possibly Dawson Barteaux will have enough to lead the young nucleus to championship glory. If Paddock believes this, which I wholeheartedly believe he does then naming this seventeen year old Steel captain amounts to the correct choice.

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