LFR: Leadership in Hockey? What's that?

Steve Dangle
April 07 2014 04:28PM

Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 3.11.01 PM

Everyone is talking about the Leafs needing leadership but we can't even figure out what leadership is!


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Steve Dangle has a YouTube channel with over 3 million views and is the co-host of the Steve Dangle Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Steve has also worked for CBC, the NHL Network, Leafs TV, Nike, the KHL, and most of all, the Toronto Zoo. stevedangle.com
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#1 CashGameND
April 07 2014, 05:48PM
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To me leadership is a thing. Leaders can definitely come in different forms but it certainly exists.

Heart&Hard work 24-7 during the game. Practice. And off time doing the right thing. Being a great example. I don't think statistics are a must here but I believe somebody who is performing well statistically is somebody your players are more likely to follow the example of and listen to. (Even though I merely mentioned heart it is also a big thing. Being willing to lay it all on the line for your team every night)

The other form of leadership is vocal. Somebody who can speak up to individuals or the team to give advice or pump them up or give them a kick in the butt when its needed.

Hard to find a leader that has all these qualities. Toews definitely does fit the bill

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#2 Cam Charron
April 07 2014, 06:28PM
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It's interesting to note that Jonathan Toews goes through postseason scoring droughts (he's gone through a couple at the Olympics as well) and yet those aren't talked about much because the Blackhawks happen to have people to replace that production should the top guys falter.

We regard Steve Yzerman as an example of a tremendous captain, one of the best ever and yet it wasn't until age 31 that he was able to win a Stanley Cup. Alex Ovechkin is 28 and he's been written off.

It's generally a subjective way of evaluating players, I'm afraid. If you can't find stats to back up an argument for what so-and-so player (we'll call him Tyson Bazok) can accomplish on the ice, then you'll point to some intangible quality that isn't shown in the stats.

But y'all mentioned it on the podcast a while back. If something doesn't show up in the stats, ie: leading to either more goals for, fewer goals against, or more wins, then what use does it have?

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#4 mitch
April 07 2014, 06:56PM
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Here is something I just don't understand. You got all these people saying the leaf's got no leadership/character but at the same time saying the leaf's need to resign Dave bolland because of all his leadership/character. If anything doesn't this prove that the acquisition of bolland was a mistake? If the team has bad leadership and bolland is on the team then is he not part of the problem? You can't have it both ways. You can't say the leaf's must resign Bolland because of what a great leader he is and then turn around and say the leaf's sucked because they have no good leaders.

As for what is leadership in hockey, mostly it's an easy excuse to not actually analyse. Why aren't the Penguins a seemingly unstoppable hockey juggernnaut, leadership. Why are the Bruins a seemingly unstoppable hockey juggernaut, leadership. It's the kind of easy answer soundbyte you need when you have 30 seconds to explain something on Tv.

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#5 rottentomatoes
April 07 2014, 07:11PM
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Leadership/Character is kind of the x-factor when things get tough and also when things are going well.

some examples:

Remember when a fan threw a jersey on the ice in Edmonton and Scrivens threw it back into the crowd? Ben is a leader. He didn't have to do that but he did to make a point. He's not going to score you goals obviously but his actions speak loudly. They didn't win the game due to that action, lost consecutively after that too I'm sure but I assure you that the players that stay with Edmonton next season will remember that and why he did it. Hell, most of us thought it was pretty cool right? If I was a hockey player and Ben spoke, I would listen intently.

Last year during the playoffs, we all saw what happened to Bergeron and how the man just wouldn't die. What would you call that drive that a lot of player get during the playoffs that makes them play through wild injuries, jump in front of flying pucks? It's heart/leadership/character right? It's giving a damn and doing whatever it takes to win. Not for yourself but for everyone in that room because you play for them.

When the season was about to end for the Bruins last year and it was 4-2, do you guys remember Lucic? He was a bull on steroids, he was running over people left and right. As for the Leafs? you could see the pee trickle down their legs in those last minutes. Not once in all of the must-wins that the Leafs have had in the past 10-12 games have I seen any sense of urgency like that.

Don't misunderstand me please though, I'm not suggesting whatsoever that Bolland or Clarkson are the answers. Sure one has cups and the other one? (I don't even know, why is Clarkson here again? lol) but they're not what the team needs in terms of character because at the end of the day, you gotta put your money with your mouth is. Produce, score goals, do something that makes you valuable to a team.

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#6 rottentomatoes
April 07 2014, 07:22PM
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@Cam Charron

Speaking of Toews, remember when Seabrook calmed Toews down last year when Toews was taking stupid penalty after stupid penalty and losing his mind in general again't the wings? Seabrook showed leadership and it mattered.

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/puck-daddy/unsung-hero-brent-seabrook-sage-advice-pays-off-201205180.html

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#7 Justin Fisher
April 07 2014, 07:42PM
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Obviously I was pretty cut and dry with my assessment of what leadership is. When I said that leadership isn't quantifiable, I meant that it isn't something we can - or should - put a number on.

In my opinion, a leader's core responsibility is to inspire their followers. But let's be honest, there is no one thing that inspires everyone equally.

I'm sure that some Capitals players found Ovechkin's "hot stick" inspiring, in that it made them smile and pumped them up, while other teammates didn't care for the showboating.

I bet that some of the Canucks get a shot of adrenaline after Tom Sestito fights someone, while others could care less.

I'm sure some get a kick out of Phil Kessel scoring a truckload of goals, and others are irked by his body language or reluctance to speak to, well, anyone (other than Bozie on his shiny new Acer tablet).

Maybe it's fitting that we can describe or quantify leadership, because it means so many different things to so many people. And, admittedly, maybe my previous comments weren't terribly well thought out.

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#8 leafer2013
April 07 2014, 08:07PM
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@Justin Fisher

You guys are making this too complicated. Leadership is best observed on the ice by who executes effectively both offensively and defensively.

Something like Corsi Rel gives a good idea who is leading by example on ice with positive puck possession. Players like Gardiner, Kadri, Bolland and Clarkson are good leaders. And players like Gleason, Orr and Phaneuf are not the best leaders.

Now Corsi Rel, but a good leader - leads by example.

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#9 SchulzEricT
April 07 2014, 10:57PM
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"I can't quantify it" doesn't mean "cannot be quantified." If you think leadership doesn't exist, then I envy your easy life. Being one of the best players on your team, yet still working harder in practice than your less talented teammates; scoring the goal that puts your team ahead then still be willing to block a shot to keep your team ahead; noticing the little things that your 4th liner does that goes unnoticed by the majority of fans and giving him a pat on the back; all of those things are examples of leadership. Leading means setting an example for your teammates to follow and causing them to raise their games; leading means working so hard that you inspire your teammates to heights they would not have thought themselves capable of because they are refuse to wilt when they see you working harder. Leadership shows up in the stats; whenever a team has a lot of guys hitting career-highs, it's likely that there are a few leaders in the locker room, holding everybody to a higher standard (by example, not rebuke). It may be impossible to prove, but it shows up in the stats, and it matters.

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#10 SchulzEricT
April 07 2014, 10:58PM
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@SchulzEricT

By the way, I don't think your team is lacking leadership, just talent. (Unless you mean the coaching; then, sure.)

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#11 noni khanna
April 07 2014, 11:12PM
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Being a good leader means to be able to lift your teammate's spirit so everyone plays their best game. It could be an enforcer, or a skill player. It could come via a fight, or a hit, or a goal, or a speech. Leadership is being able to inspire your team to play their best game.

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#12 leafer4life
April 08 2014, 07:04AM
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Good leaders have also lost battles and make mistakes. They however keep the troops motivated and on task at hand. Those questioning the leadership of the leafs are looking at the disjointed team and their poor effort.

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#13 Bruinsbunnie
April 08 2014, 07:04AM
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Leadership just is. Its not something that's done or forced or measurable. Its doing your job past the measures of society to the point where u inspire the guy next to u to do the same... then the next guy..and the next Leadership is having the confidence that u can overcome, and getting others to believe it as well

U dont buy it. U don't see it in black & white. It can't be taught. But it can be nurtured from a small spark into a wildfire.

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#14 TGT23
April 08 2014, 07:15AM
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Often we measure "great leaders" by winning, which makes little sense because we just as often celebrate how great of a leader they are after they've won and rarely before.

Was Steve Yzerman a great leader before winning a cup? Did he even need to be with the teams they had? How about Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, and the like?

We don't often hear how great a leader a player is until around the time he lifts a Stanley Cup or wins some kind of Gold Medal.

Which, to me, means "Leader" is a narrative term like "clutch". It is completely results based and unquantifiable.

I mean, the term "clutch" gets used to describe players like Kobe Bryant or Tom Brady, players who have statistically failed more times "in the clutch" than they've succeeded.

Seriously, how many playoff losses for Brady? How many missed game tying/winning shots for Bryant?

The same applies to "Leader".

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#15 Weekend @ Bernier's
April 08 2014, 12:08PM
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When I think of effective leaders in the NHL the first names that come to mind are obviously Johnny Toews and Sidney Crosby, but also guys like Mike RIchards, Ryan Callahan, Andrew Ladd etc. "Heart and Soul" players that grind every night and have the reputations of being hard-working players that still produce in most areas time and time again while being a vocal leader in the room, calling the team out on the times they aren't playing to potential (including themselves).

Am I describing something too ideal or that doesn't exist? I don't think so, and I would argue Toronto has a few of these players in Clarkson, Bolland, Lupul and yes even Dion. Anyone remember when Dion was traded here and one of the first interactions with Brian Burke, Phaneuf left the locker room, saw Burke and said "The room is too small. We need bigger guys in that room." Burke said he had never had a player talk to him like that and he loved it. THAT is what leadership is *in this city and market. Yes there is an asterisk beside it because I think this city and market commands another type of leader. Someone who can throw himself in front of his teammates when times are tough and someone who always praises team play when things are going well. Dion is that guy I think, but he needs to be reminded to be that player. I won't make this a shot at coaching but when we had defined captains and alternates, assistants whatever you prefer to call them, was the team's leadership ever questioned? NO! Sit Dion, Clarkson and Bolland down at seasons end and clear the air. Then let them work the room.

Intangible? Yes. Cliche? You bet your boots. But is it already there? I think so.........

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#16 SchulzEricT
April 08 2014, 02:08PM
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@TGT23

Just because who is a great leader as perceived by those OUTSIDE the locker room is a narrative does not mean that leadership doesn't exist, or doesn't matter. Most of the time those labeled good leaders ARE good leaders. Sure, not all are, and there are quite a few players who are good leaders who don't get the proper credit, but it exists.

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#17 Gardiner-Reilly
April 08 2014, 05:11PM
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Good video.

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#18 William Labine
April 08 2014, 08:23PM
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Those who are leaders are those who promote a culture of winning in the dressing room (a la Josh Gorges"

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