Adam Musil is a perfect fit for the Red Deer Rebels.
Not only is the 19-year-old one of the premier power forwards in the Western Hockey League, but the first-year captain is proving to be a leader on-and-off the ice.
“I have more responsibility,” he said before practice on Thursday. “I knew coming in this season there was the potential to be captain and I prepared myself to be a leader and take it over. I think I was ready for it.”
The fourth-year member of the Rebels has the perfect outlook. He’s not big on himself and is willing to put in the extra work to make himself and the team better.
“He does everything right off the ice,” said Rebels assistant coach Jeff Truitt. “He’s a ferocious guy in the gym and you watch practice and he doesn’t let up. He wants to do everything right and pushes the play and pushes the power and not only does that create good habits for him but when you’re playing against a guy like that it’s going to make you better.”
But Musil may well be his own biggest critic. The Delta, B.C., native has a goal and five assists and a plus-five rating in 11 games this season, numbers he’s not happy with.
“I haven’t been very good,” he said. “I have to be a lot better and I think we’ll be even a better team if I step up my game.”
Despite not scoring at a pace he’d be happy with, Musil has dominated games with his physical ability along the wall.
“I believe the harder you work the luckier you get, and I haven’t been lucky,” he said. “I don’t believe I’m doing some of the little things as well as I need to and that’s a big reason why I’m not contributing offensively. I just need to get things going my way, and hopefully the puck will start going in.”
“But the most important thing is to win as a team, the individual things will come eventually.”
Truitt doesn’t see anything wrong with Musil being hard on himself.
“He’s a power forward everyone would love to have, especially down the middle,” he said. “He’s a ferocious competitor and is hard on himself and that’s good. You don’t get drafted by not being hard on yourself and making corrections and adapting.”
Musil, who was a first round pick (sixth overall) in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, was a fourth round pick (94th overall) by the St. Louis Blues in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He attended the Blues camp for the second season this year and played one exhibition game with the big club.
“I played against Columbus … it was something you dream of,” he said. “I thought I had a good camp, I just wanted to do the best I could do. But obviously not good enough as they didn’t keep me longer. It was a good experience, and I think I learned from it.”
He returned to the Rebels, and unlike, some players over the years didn’t take time to readjust to junior.
“Brent (head coach/GM Brent Sutter) stressed a lot about attitudes coming back to junior,” Musil said. “When you’re at a NHL camp you’re head might be too high. When you come back you want to be on an even keel and we have to remember we’re Red Deer Rebels not St. Louis Blues. I try to focus on the Rebels and to do the best I can do.”
The fact Musil comes from a hockey family helps. His father Frantisek Musil played a number of years in the NHL, and his brother David was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers.
“It helps a lot. My dad and brother has been through it, and they know what it takes to get there. My dad has been a big part of my success.”
Truitt knows it’s important to have that background.
“He comes from great bloodlines and he’s seen a lot over the years and absorbed what he’s seen.”
Musil, along with the other veterans, absorbed a lot, especially late last season in the playoffs and Memorial Cup.
“That was important, playing into the third round of the playoffs and in the Memorial Cup … you have to bring your game up to play in those big games,” he said. “I think we all learned a lot as players just to be better and know how to get ready for those games.”
Lately the Rebels have been ready as they’re riding a six-game winning streak as they prepare to host the Medicine Hat Tigers tonight at 7 p.m. at the Centrium.
‘We’ve won six in a row, obviously it’s a step in the right direction,” said Musil. “We have to keep moving forward and play to our ability.”
Musil believes the team’s one-for-all attitude plays a major role in their success.
“It’s been a lot of fun coming to the rink,” he said. “We have a great group of guys, who want to work as a team. Winning is fun, and if we play as a team the better chance we have to win. I know I can’t wait for what’s next.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca