It’s a hockey conundrum. Leading scorers aren’t always the best leaders in other ways — a level of selfishness is inherent in being a top scorer — and sometimes they are not the best candidates to be team captains. But the Penguins and Oilers obviously feel differently with Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.
So do the Victoria Grizzlies in naming Ellis Rickwood captain for the 2021-22 B.C. Hockey League season. Rickwood was tied for second in league scoring with 13 goals and 30 points in 20 games in the pandemic-abbreviated 2020-21 season.
Sometimes coaches prefer the steady lead-from-behind defenceman or the spark-plug energy player as captains. The Grizzlies went with the former last season with graduated rearguard Brady MacDonald, now with Ivy League Dartmouth in the NCAA. But the club has had success going the other route, too.
“We had [former BCHL scoring leader and now Colorado Avalanche NHLer] Alex Newhook as captain a few years ago and he rose to the challenge,” said Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon.
“Ellis [Rickwood] similarly has a great attitude, workmanship and mentality,” said Didmon.
“We will be leaning on him for more than just his scoring. It’s a big challenge for him but we feel he’s ready for it.”
It’s the first time Rickwood, committed to NCAA Div. 1 Clarkson University, will wear the “C” at any level in his playing career.
“It’s special and real honour,” said the 19-year-old native of Brantford, Ont., also the hometown of another player who famously wore the “C” for the Edmonton Oilers.
“It’s something new for me but I feel I can deal with both [the scoring load and being team leader].”
Don’t expect rah-rah dressing room dramatics.
“I’m a more lead by example guy,” said Rickwood.
“We’ve got a good leadership group [Isack Bandu, Andrew Amousse and Michael Hoekstra are assistant captains] and more vocal guys in that group. But I will speak up when needed.”
He observed MacDonald last season.
“Brady had the kind of maturity that kept everybody in check and everybody looked up to him as a role model,” said Rickwood.
Ellis certainly has the motivation after being ranked for the 2021 NHL draft but not selected. He still has this season with the Grizzlies, and four more at Clarkson in the NCAA, to earn a pro signing or tryout as a free-agent.
“I didn’t have any expectations for the draft,” he said.
“It was similar to [being overlooked in the major-junior] OHL draft so I’m used to it. It’s simply back to work, as far as I’m concerned.”
Rickwood and many of the other veterans sat out Monday as the BCHL preseason began with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs beating the Grizzlies 4-1 in Port Alberni. The Grizzlies played their intra-squad game Tuesday night at The Q Centre. The preseason continues this weekend with the Grizzlies meeting the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday night at the Cowichan Community Centre and Saturday night at The Q Centre.