We've seen enough American League hockey in Oklahoma City to know who's important to the club. Each and every player holds an integral part to the lineup, yet there are some that stand out maybe in goal scoring giftedness, in defensive prowess, or even toughness. But there are other players who seemingly have the leadership qualities that far extend just the play on the ice. Extending to the locker room, pre-game routines, and post-game interactions, the player that is called captain has the it factor to keep everyone focused.
There are many that will argue the importance of a captain, and quite frankly I'll be glad to enter into that debate. However, the player wearing the "C" in the minor leagues plays a vital role on the roster night after night. Acting as a player coach, the minor league captain needs to be omni-present. He's usually a guy that's been a round for some time. Who plans on sticking around even longer. And who seizes his role and opportunities to teach wholeheartedly.
In Oklahoma City year one, Ben Ondrus demonstrated this role beautifully. We all knew his participation on the team was role heavy. He played hard. Pushed himself at every opportunity. And certainly led by example. This led to his captaincy.
With Ondrus now a Penguin (the Krefeld of the DEL kind), the captain position is for the taking. So who is the new captain of the Barons in the 2011-12 season?
The roundtable today consists of Patricia, who's contributions to the blogging world at Artfulpuck are always entertaining; Scott, purveyor of the great minor league Oilers site OilFieldHockey.com; season ticket holder, photographer, and Barons chronicler, Candace who posts at A New Ice Age; Evan, the featured prospect writer for the notorious OilersJambalaya; Avid hockey fan, and Star Wars lover Jonathan; and, of course, your two lovable Copper & Blue writers, Neal and Eric.
Patricia: My vote for Captain goes to Bryan Helmer. I like an older veteran player taking the captain's position, especially in a squad of young players, and I think Helmer is the perfect role model given his experience. He has certainly taken a very calm but strong leadership role in the training camp so far.
Scott: Helmer will wear the C, with Keller and Teubert getting the A's.
Candace: No brainer....Bryan Helmer. He's forgotten more than most of our "kids" have seen in their careers. It's all so typical & trite, but with that comes a settling & a balance; a patience not to get too high or too low at any given time.
Evan: I could easily see Bryan Helmer as the new captain this year. I believe it's better to have a player who is on an AHL contract as your captain and a veteran who knows the AHL game well, so there is no worries of your captain being in and out of OKC. Captain needs to be a mainstay.
Jonathan: The captain has to be Helmer. The entire team changed when he was added last year, you saw the team chill out a bit, and play better defensively. The guy won't be called up, he's Oklahoma City all the way, and he won't have a chip on his shoulder trying to fight to "prove himself" The guy knows he's in the AHL, he's content with the AHL and he wants to be the best he can. I don't think there is any doubt that Helmer is our Captain!
Eric: Bryan Helmer, no question. Three straight seasons as a captain on two different teams, I can only think he would have been the captain last season if he was on the squad from the beginning. There are lots of candidates for the A's this season though. Acting as captain during the Young Stars tournament, Colten Teubert along with Corey Potter(if he's here) are my guesses for the defensive assistants. Among the forwards, Teemu Hartikainen, Ryan O'Marra, Josh Green, Ryan Keller, Anton Lander, and I'll even throw Andrew Lord in, are all possibilities.
Neal: If I know my roundtablers like I think I do, there's no question that they'll choose Bryan Helmer. Subsequently, that'd be my choice too. My reasons are really two-fold. One, he's earned it both over his career and most recently as a Baron. He understands his role, is comfortable with it, and takes it in stride. Two, he seems to love Oklahoma City. He's active in the community, always has his family around, and really does like the circumstance he's found himself. Is it too soon to call him an "Okie"?
Join us again tomorrow as the roundtable discusses the hot button issue of what needs to change off the ice.