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How to Be a Hockey Captain
Being named captain of a hockey team is a distinct honor that is usually conferred on an outstanding player who leads by example and is very familiar with the rules of the game. A effective captain also serves as a liaison between the coaching staff and the players. He knows how -- and when -- to talk to teammates about their substandard performance, work ethic, attitude or other issues that might arise. Prepare for this important role by setting an example and developing a relationship with every player and coach on the team. Demonstrate confidence, leadership and character at all times on and off the ice.
Accept the captain's "C" with full knowledge that it is a privilege usually bestowed on a player trusted by the coaching staff. Begin by discussing the role with the head coach and determine his expectations. Be sure not to demonstrate a sense of arrogance or entitlement as you approach the role. Show you teammates that you are worthy of their respect and their trust.
Lead by example on the ice and off. In the dressing room before a game or practice, ensure that everyone is focused on the task at hand and understands his or role. During practice, help keep the energy level high among the players by encouraging them during drills. Be prepared to run a practice if the coach is unable to attend.
Serve as an advocate for your teammates during the game. One of the chief responsibilities of a captain is discussing penalties and other rulings made by the referee. Address game officials respectfully and ask for clarifications when necessary. Remain composed and respectful even in the face of a bad call. Show your teammates you have their backs by standing up for them when someone on the opposing team delivers a cheap shot.
Build team chemistry by reaching out to all members of the team. Arrange off-ice gatherings such as a players-only dinner. Make sure the less-skilled players know they are an important part of the team and encourage their development. Let all of your teammates know they can come to you to discuss any issues that arise. Be a friend and a mentor to every player on the team.
Maintain a good relationship with the coaching staff but never usurp the coaches' authority or argue with them in front of the team. If a player is disgruntled with his playing time or the way he is treated by the coaches, offer encouragement without second-guessing the coaching staff's decisions. Remember that even though you have a leadership role on the team, you are first and foremost a player and a teammate.
Al Stewart's 30-year background as a writer/editor includes staff positions at "Adweek," "Billboard," "Chain Drug Review," "Cable World," "DNR" (men's fashion), "National Floor Trends," and "Variety." A native New Yorker, he is now a writer/editor living in Los Angeles. He has a BA in political science from Wagner College.
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