The Ontario Reign have named their captains, assistant captains and leadership group for the 2019-20 season.
Brett Sutter has been named as team captain for the third straight season. Sutter was originally named as team captain in October 2017 and has worn the “C” during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
“Sutts is Sutts,”. Stothers said. “He’s all world. He does everything for his teammates and coaches, both on and off the ice.”
Forwards Mario Kempe and Lance Bouma, along with defenseman Ryan Stanton, have been named as assistant captains. Kempe will wear an “A” both home and away, while Stanton will wear an “A” at home games and Bouma will wear an “A” at away games.
“Just their experience alone, those guys,” Stothers said. “All proven veteran players, have had great careers. They’re still very serviceable, they’re still young – not compared to the other guys, but as players, they can play. So their experience is invaluable to our young guys. You kind of get a feel for guys, you get a relationship.”
Stothers pointed to Kempe’s mentorship of his brother, Kings forward Adrian Kempe, as a reason for naming him as a permanent captain this season.
“I saw Mario a lot last year with Tucson and Arizona and I’m very familiar with his brother, having had him,” he said of the elder Kempe “I know Adrian’s a good person, and I can see Mario’s the older brother, kind of the protector of his little brother, so you look for that and he’s going to do the same for our guys here.”
With regards to Bouma and Stanton, both bring veteran experience to a young Reign roster. Bouma, with Ontario on a PTO, is a player who brings a respected career with him to the Reign. Stanton’s experience working with a young defensive corps a season ago in Bakersfield was a big determining factor with him as well.
“Bouma, he’s here on a PTO, but I talked to him and said ‘listen, as far as I’m concerned, you’re here. We’re not going to keep looking at this every day like now we’re down to 23 games, 21 games, 20 games. You’re here,’ and that’s how he should approach it too, until any of us are told differently. I respect his career, what he’s done. Stanton, I know a little bit of him, he played in Moose Jaw before I got there. I saw what he did with a young defense core in Bakersfield last year, he was a good steadying influence for those guys, going through their growing pains of playing on the backend. He gets it, it’s about the young players, about helping and developing them, so he’s an extension of us as a coaching staff.”
Beyond the four captains, goaltender Cal Petersen, defenseman Paul LaDue and forward Martin Frk will make up the Reign’s seven-man leadership group, who will meet regularly with the coaching staff to keep them well informed and engaged with what’s going on in the room. Stothers was particularly complimentary of Petersen and noted that he would probably wear a letter as well if it were allowed for a goaltender.
The group of seven will be brought in regularly to “to get a feel of the team, a pulse of the team and how they’re doing, what their needs are and what we’re trying to get accomplished as a coaching staff.”
Expect to see letters on Sutter, Kempe and Stanton this evening, as the Reign host San Jose at 7 PM in Ontario.