The new on-ice leader of the Red Deer Rebels has taken on the role with mixed feelings.
“Obviously I have more responsibility and more things to focus on, but it’s a good responsibility and makes you better as a leader and as a person,” Rebels newly-appointed captain Turner Elson said on Thursday, on the eve of tonight’s 7:30 p.m. match with the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. “I’m going to enjoy it and try to work with it.”
Elson, a fourth-year forward, had the ‘C’ sewn on his jersey when former captain Adam Kambeitz was dealt to the Saskatoon Blades earlier in the week. He admitted that bidding adieu to the fifth-year forward was difficult.
“Adam is one of my best friends. He’s a great player and a great leader,” said Elson. “I’m just going to try and pick up where he left off and that was just being a great captain. That’s what I have to do.”
Head coach Jesse Wallin, following verbal interaction with general manager Brent Sutter, assistant coach Bryce Thoma and various members of the Rebels front office, informed the 20-year-old Elson that he was Kambeitz’s replacement.
“It was kind of a difficult conversation because we had just lost Adam. I wasn’t very excited yet because I was still worried about him,” said Elson. “I was told that I’m the right person for the job and I believe I am and can lead this team and get us to a Memorial Cup.”
Sutter said Elson was the obvious choice to take over as captain.
“We just felt that it was a pretty easy decision,” he said. “Turner understands what we’re about here and how we do things.”
Defenceman Mathew Dumba praised Kambeitz and admitted he will be missed. At the same time, he was in full agreement with the selection of Elson as the club’s new leader.
“He’s a real leader in the room, a 20-year-old who everyone respects,” said Dumba. “He’s such a good guy and an obvious selection as team captain.”
Dumba is an alternate captain, as are defencemen Brandon Underwood and Kayle Doetzel, currently out four to six weeks with a broken jaw. Forward Joel Hamilton is currently wearing the third ‘A’ .
Sutter has been extra busy this fall, swinging a multitude of trades in an effort to make the Rebels roster stronger for now — and more importantly — down the road. Elson understands the need for changes.
“We’re picking up some good players and Brent is really pushing to get us players to help the team. He’s doing a good job of that,” said Elson.
But at the same time . . .
“You don’t want guys to go and it’s sad seeing guys go, so I even told the guys that it’s time to show him (Sutter) that we’re a team now and we’re here to stay and we don’t need any more trades,” said Elson. “We don’t want to see people go, but we need wins to do that so hopefully wins will start to come consistently.”
The Rebels opened the season with three losses, but have won four of their last seven games. Red Deer is coming off a 3-2-0-1 road trip heading into tonight’s contest.
“There’s a good mood in the dressing room,” said Elson. “The guys are happy about our road trip and are ready to get back at it.”