Friday, October 12, 2012

Holm sweet holm 10/12

The big story out of Phantoms practice today is head coach Terry Murray opting to keep Ben Holmstrom as team captain. Former Phantoms head coach Joe Paterson named Holmstrom, 25, the youngest captain in Phantoms franchise history last year, but there was some question if Murray, in his first year as Adirondack's head coach, would pick a new player to wear the letter.

However, with 18 members of last year's Phantoms team back in the locker room this season, Murray said it only  made sense to keep Holmstrom as the team's designated leader. Murray had lots of praise for Holmstrom after today's practice, the team's final one before tomorrow night's home-opener.

"The team likes him a lot," Murray said. "He's a very high-character player. He comes to work hard every day. He's got a great demeanor and personality about himself. ... When I watch him through the short period of time that I've been here, I see good things. He's a very important player to the team -- a quality leader. I just wanted to keep consistency in the locker room."

Captains have different leadership methods. Some are rabble-rousers who will make big locker room speeches, while some are reserved who prefer to lead by example. Holmstrom's not one for speeches, but he'll pick his spots. More than anything, though, he prefers to let his play do the talking.

"You can't just say things and go out there and not back them up," he said. "You have to back up what you talk about. That's the only way you can get respect ... there's times when you speak up and times when you don't. You just have to have a feel for the way things are going. It's a long season."

Different coaches expect different things out of their captains. Here's what Murray said he expects out of Holmstrom and alternate captains Brandon Manning and Danny Svyret. He hand-picked all three.

"They're the voice that carries the message between the coach's office and the locker room," Murray said. "They're constantly coming in through my request or they're knocking on the door if there's something that needs to be discussed. We talk it out and then they can carry that message. They're also players that I look to on the ice to set the tone in the practice. It's a hard day some days after three-in-three and you want to get a quality work in for 30 minutes. You have to have someone alert, sharp, ready and eager and just set the tone and the tempo."

The Syvret selection as an alternate captain makes perfect sense. This will be the 28-year-old's eighth season in the league and his third tour of duty with the Flyers organization. They know what they're getting out of him. Manning, at right, is a bit of a surprise pick -- there are players with a lot more experience than he has -- but the more I think about it, the more I like the selection. He worked hard to crack the lineup after starting the year with an injury and then wound up playing four NHL games. He's got a good work ethic about him.

"We all feel he has a pretty nice upside to his game," Murray said of Manning. "The other thing that I took into consideration was when the lockout gets settled, there's probably going to be some player movement. Players who were up there from the back end were (Erik Gustafsson) and (Marc-Andre) Bourdon. In my view of how it shapes up right now, we might not lose Manning right away in a situation like that. In looking at the team here, I want to keep these people around as the captains of the team throughout the year."

Here's Manning on the honor.

"I was my captain in junior when I was 19 and 20. I think it's one of those things that came naturally to me a little bit. It's not something I really thought about until coach told me today. It's in the back of my mind now and I think I was picked for a reason, I guess I can say. I'm not going to change much. I'm going to be the same person I am and do whatever I can to help the guys."

Sometimes players feel the letter on the shirt weighs them down, but Manning said he does not anticipate that being a problem.

"There's so many great guys in this dressing room. Obviously I'm a bit of a younger guy, but I think something I pride myself on is my work ethic ... how I practice and how I play, whether it's sticking up for my teammates or just playing whether we're losing 5-1 or winning 5-1. I pride myself on the character of my game. I definitely think that goes a long way."

And here's Syvret, right, who has worn and not worn a letter at different points in his AHL career.

"I don't really feel a letter makes someone a leader or not. I think you're more accepted in the locker room if you are a leader, but that doesn't really mean you have to be wearing a letter on your sweater. I think there's a lot of guys in the dressing room that have great leadership qualities. You can't give out 25 letters to a team. It's definitely an honor, though."

One more thing from practice today -- Murray said he's picked a starting goaltender, but wouldn't say who it was. For what it's worth, Scott Munroe has been practicing in the net the Phantoms defend twice pretty much all week. 

We'll see if that means anything when the Phantoms hit the ice tomorrow. Portland's in town at 7 p.m.

Finally, a blurb from today's Associated Press story, via the American Hockey League. The Oklahoma City Barons - who already have top Oilers prospects Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle on their roster - plan to add Taylor Hall when he's done rehabbing his shoulder injury.

The Barons return AHL Goalie of the Year Yann Danis and definitely look like the team to beat out West, at least in the early going. Heck, they're so stacked that they sent Philippe Cornet to the ECHL. He hadd 24 goals and was an All-Star in this league last year. (Stick tap to blog friend Jason Iacona).

Until next time,


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