The Saskatoon Blades are turning to one new face and to some younger faces for leadership as the 2013-14 season continues to wind on.
Due to trading away forwards Nathan Burns and Collin Valcourt and a season-ending injury to Nelson Nogier, Blades head coach Dave Struch has had to name new alternate captains.
The new bunch that joins captain Graeme Craig includes young Blades veterans Nick Zajac and Brett Stovin, along with newcomer Dylan Busenius. Busenius was acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders late in December, in a deal that saw Valcourt and Ryan Coghlan head out of town.
"Our leadership group now becomes the young group of guys," said Struch following the Blades 5-2 win over Lethbridge on Saturday night. "They'll learn as they move forward here how to lead by voice but right now we need them to lead by example on the ice."
The newest player to earn a letter is Zajac. The left-winger is currently in his 3rd full season as a member of the Blades and is on pace to set new career-highs in goals and points this season. Along with the letter on his chest, Zajac has earned a promotion up the depth chart since returning from a lower-body injury that limited him to only one game in December. He's picked up 3 goals and 5 points in three January games so far, all games in which the Blades picked up at least one point in the standings.
But, Zajac has heard the coaches words about leading by example and is taking pride in the change.
"It's awesome," said Zajac about being named as an alternate captain. "Being in the room and being recognized as a leader, it's really nice that the guys look at you as one of the people that can kind of lead your team. More than anything I like to lead by example, go out there and lay it on the line. I'll continue to do that and things should go well for us."
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)