-

Philp a proven leader

It wasn’t imperative that Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter appoint a new captain after dealing Wyatt Johnson to the Spokane Chiefs on New Years Day. With a team loaded with experience and talent, the belief was that there was more than enough leadership already on board. But when centre Luke Philp returned from a nearly three-month layoff two weeks ago, it soon became apparent that he was the man to wear the ‘C’.

It wasn’t imperative that Red Deer Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter appoint a new captain after dealing Wyatt Johnson to the Spokane Chiefs on New Years Day.

With a team loaded with experience and talent, the belief was that there was more than enough leadership already on board. But when centre Luke Philp returned from a nearly three-month layoff two weeks ago, it soon became apparent that he was the man to wear the ‘C’.

“He’s a proven leader, a guy who’s a proven player at playoff time,” Sutter said Thursday. “I think it was an important step for us and it was pretty unanimous among the coaches and everyone on the hockey operations side who needed to be our captain moving forward.”

Philp was the Kootenay Ice captain this season before sustaining an ankle injury that required surgery in late November. Acquired from the Ice Jan. 3, he finally made his Rebels debut Feb. 12 in a 4-1 loss at Calgary.

“It felt really good to be back. You get pretty frustrated being out for as long as I was,” said Philp. “It was really good to get into the lineup. It takes a couple of games to get back to game speed, but I’m feeling really good now.”

The 20-year-old Canmore native, who put up 29 points, including 13 goals, in 22 games with the Ice this season and has recorded four goals and two assists in six outings with the Rebels, had barely been cleared to practice when he got into his first game with the Rebels.

“He’s a player who does the right things. He’s going to play hard every shift and again, the bigger the game the better he plays,” said Sutter. “Just look at our (recent) road trip. For a guy who hadn’t played in a long time, a guy who had hardly practised with us at all … to come in and play like he has, that speaks for itself and a lot of it is based on just his character.

“The day before he played his first game with us he’d only had one practice and after practice he came into the coaches room and asked me what my plan was for him. I told him what it was — to basically to get through a couple of more practices and then we’d play him.

“He just basically flat out told us, ‘put me in the friggin lineup’. That just speaks about his character. I thought about it through the night and the next day I called him at one o’clock and told him I was going to play him.”

So far, so good. Philp has already exhibited his two-way skills and is skating on the Rebels’ top line with Adam Helewka and Jake DeBrusk.

While he was somewhat taken aback at Sutter’s decision to name him as the club’s new official on-ice leader, Philp wasn’t shocked that he was given the appointment.

“Maybe a little bit, but Brent had meetings with me and told me he brought me in to take a leadership role with this team,” said Philp. “I was a little surprised, but at the same time I knew it was a possibility.”

It’s a role he’s gladly taken on and one that he is confident he won’t handle alone.

“There’s a lot of really good leaders on this team so I know I wouldn’t be doing it by myself, that’s for sure,” he said.

The Rebels snapped a five-game losing streak with last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars in the final leg of a four-game B.C. Division road trip.

Philp, who served as an assistant captain with the Ice each of the previous two seasons, is confident that the hard-fought victory can be a springboard to future success.

“We took a lot of positives out of the Prince George series,” he said, referring also to a 3-1 loss last Friday. “We played hard both games. That was a good series and we were glad to get the win in that last game. It got us out of the slump and now we have to build off that and keep moving forward.”

Philp sees plenty of potential for the 2016 Memorial Cup host Rebels — who officially clinched a playoff berth this week — to finish off the regular season on a positive note and go deep into the post-season.

“There’s tons (of potential) here, the sky is the limit,” he said. “This group has a lot of talent, we just need to put it all together and find ways to play a full 60 minutes and I think we’ll be fine.”

Sutter is confident Philp is the right man to lead his squad down the regular-season homestretch and beyond.

“It’s just his makeup, it’s the way he is,” said the Rebels boss. “He’s a player who is very well respected inside our (dressing) room. He’s not a player who talks a lot but when he speaks it’s about the team. It’s not about individual stuff, it’s about team stuff.”

• The Rebels open a weekend homestand tonight against the Portland Winterhawks. The Victoria Royals visit the Centrium Saturday.

Just Posted

New anti-bullying initiative for Alberta schools

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange makes announcement in Red Deer

Alleged thief caught hiding in a hay stack

The Mounties always get their man, even when he hides in a… Continue reading

Highway 2 backed up near Red Deer by jacknifed semi

Avoid Highway 2 southbound in Highway 11 area

Kenney and cabinet ministers in Ottawa to meet federal counterparts

OTTAWA — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and eight of his cabinet ministers… Continue reading

Meet the apparel companies holding out against the offshore manufacturing tide

MONTREAL — Amid the whir of sewing machines, Jean-Philippe Robert surveys the… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train supports Lacombe Food Bank

Madeline Merlo and JUNO Award nominee Scott Helman both performed

Your community calendar

Friday The Annual Old-Fashioned Country Christmas is being held Dec. 13 at… Continue reading

Opinion: City’s health-care needs ignored once again

Whether it’s services for those struggling with addictions, or patients who need… Continue reading

City of Red Deer to practise its emergency response Wednesday

Some Red Deer facilities will be busier than normal when the city… Continue reading

Brent Sutter and family are a strength of the community

Re: “Rebels owner/GM head coach Brent Sutter responds to allegations, Nov. 28.… Continue reading

Trudeau holds strings for now, but they could trip him up

The first tug of war between Justin Trudeau’s new minority government and… Continue reading

Canada’s Blondin captures pair of gold medals at speedskating World Cup

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan — Canada’s Ivanie Blondin captured two gold medals Sunday at… Continue reading

Anti-doping agency imposes 4-year ban on Russia

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Russia was slapped Monday with a four-year ban from… Continue reading

Golden snubs and surprises, including little ‘Cats’ love

NEW YORK — Some Golden Globe nominations seemed like locks: Joaquin Phoenix,… Continue reading

Most Read