Forward and Ontario Reign team captain Brett Sutter finds himself in a little unfamiliar territory.
Officially chosen to wear the “C” on October 5, Sutter is in his 11th professional season and has previously served as team captain of the Charlotte Checkers from 2011-14 and wore an alternate captain’s “A” with Iowa for two seasons (2014-16).
“Team building” during a tough rut has taken on a new meaning for the experienced center. With the Reign looking to shake off an 0-5-0-0 start to the season, he is searching for new ways to connect with his younger teammates.
ORI: It seems like gone are the “old school” days of going to bowling alley, eating chicken wings and enjoying a pitcher of (beverage) to work out any kinks or differences to build team chemistry. How do you do it in 2017?
Sutter: I think this early in the year, a lot of guys are still getting to know each other and away from the rink, still trying to get to know each other on a personal level. I think you try to spend as much time together as possible. You see each other in a business environment and it’s serious, but I think you try and get together away from the rink if it’s going for a (beverage) or lunch and create that bond and brotherhood. Then, when you start coming to the rink, you go to war together. It makes it fun and creates that unity and we are getting there now. It’s still early in the year so, there will be opportunities.
ORI: When everyone has different distractions, how do you get everyone on the same page? Show up at this trail head or at this alley at X time?
Sutter: That’s exactly it. I think…not just me, but all the older guys, take bull by the horns and organize something. Everyone has been great and jumping on board and even after games last weekend, we were down on our luck, but we came together and had a great week of practice. I think whenever you can get away from the game and focus on being a team and separate yourself from everything else going on, it’s good for the environment.
ORI: From your family to personal history in a leadership role, what has been the evolution of the “captain role” and what have you had to adapt to the most to accommodate the younger players?
Sutter: I think that’s just it. When you’re a younger guy and you’re a captain, you have a lot more to relate to them, but as you get older, you keep getting older and the kids stay the same age. You cannot really change who you are. Hopefully your example sets the right one. We have great kids on our team. As the wins come, the job gets easier. We will be alright.
ORI: Does that mean late at night Brett Sutter is putting on a head set and playing “Call of Duty” to connect with the younger guys?
Sutter: You know what? We had a laugh today. All the guys were talking about playing video games and I was playing “house” with my kids at home, so we are not quite on the same level. They were talking about MLB..2K..17…or something and I was playing “magic carpet” on my daughter’s blanket so, we are at a different level in life, but they keep me young.