October 6, 2011
67's captains all aboard
By AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - When power winger Dalton Smith learned he’d be wearing a letter for the Ottawa 67’s, he phoned a friend for a little practical advice.
An uncle, actually, in former NHL All-Star Keith Primeau, who captained both the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers before a concussion cut his career short.
“He just said, ‘You’re an assistant captain for a reason, so keep doing what you’re doing, keep the effort up, lead by example and be a good player on and off the ice,’ ” said Smith.
Smith will wear an ‘A’ along with sniper Tyler Toffoli, who shared the lead in the OHL scoring race last season with 108 points, and picked up where he left off with a four-point effort in his first game after returning to junior from the L.A. Kings.
Veteran defenceman Marc-Anthony Zanetti will captain the squad.
“It’s a great mix,” said Smith. “We’ve got my toughness, Tyler’s skill and Z’s defence, and he’s a vocal guy in the room and a great leader. We have obviously very different roles, but I think all together it works well, and it’s a very well-rounded leadership (group).”
Zanetti didn’t need to look too far for inspiration.
When he broke into the league as a 16-year-old in 2007, Logan Couture was his team captain.
Now, he’s a standout for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.
“I’ve hung out with (Couture) in the summers, and I see what it takes to make it to the NHL. It’s not easy by any means, but this is a step toward accomplishing that goal,” said Zanetti. “To be in the same category as guys like (former 67’s captains) Thomas Nesbitt, Tyler Cuma and Couture, it’s a great honour.”
Never drafted, the 6-foot, 200-lb., defender has been invited to three NHL training camps, most recently with the Vancouver Canucks.
“Zanetti has worked for everything that he’s got,” said head coach and GM Chris Byrne. “It has been a hard road for him and he deserves everything he has.”
Byrne also said that before deciding on his captains, he asked around the dressing room, and the players came up with the same list.
“It means even more that the boys got to have a say in it,” said Zanetti.
“In the room, I’m very vocal and outgoing, but very loose before games, trying to keep guys loose and not so tense. I haven’t had to yell at anybody yet, but if it means getting a win, I have to do it.”