(Courtesy Marc Smith) Brett Howden returned from Tampa Bay Lightning training camp with a new addition to his Moose Jaw Warriors’ jersey.
The 18-year-old forward was named the 31st captain in Warriors’ history during a team meeting following practice on Thursday.
“Brett comes to compete in practice and off the ice everyday, and he’s great in the community, so those are attributes are at the top of the list. He’s caring, he’s consistent and for a young guy, he’s a courageous captain as well,” said head coach Tim Hunter on the decision to name Howden the team’s captain.
Howden will be joined by Noah Gregor, Tanner Jeannot and Josh Thrower in the team’s leadership group this season as they will serve as alternate captains.
“It’s a very big honour, it’s very humbling for sure and obviously there’s a lot of leaders on this team and to be named one of them is very special,” said Howden.
“I’m the type of guy that likes to be vocal for sure, whether that’s on the bench or in the dressing room, I like talking a lot and staying positive with everybody.”
The move to name Howden as the team’s captain doesn’t come as much of a surprise as he was an assistant captain last season as a 17-year-old and has also worn the ‘C’ for Team Canada, leading the team to a gold medal at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
He said he learned a lot about how to be a leader from Brayden Point over the past two seasons.
“A thing that I learned a lot from Brayden Point was to lead by example, if he wasn’t saying anything, he was working as hard as he could, doing the right things and everybody took notice,” said Howden. “That’s something I’m going to be doing for sure this year is trying to lead by example as well and do everything the proper way.”
Howden has been active in the community since joining the Warriors as well, leading the team’s Special Olympics program last season.
Hunter said that plays as much a part of Howden being the team’s captain as his play on the ice.
“The captaincy on an organization isn’t about the most popular people or the best players, it’s about the best people,” said Hunter. “This organization has had 30 captains in 34 years, only three guys have worn the captaincy more than one year and of all those captains, only five guys have played in the NHL.
“You look at the Wall of Fame that organization has, there’s 27 names on there – 20 are hockey players and seven builders – but of those 20 players in the Wall of Fame, nine of them were former captains and the point is, it’s about the best people.
“It’s about great people and I believe, and Alan (Millar) believes, that great people make great hockey players and we try to have as many great people in this organization as possible.”
The entire burden of the leading the team won’t be on Howden as he said that he will lean on his assistants for their experience.
“We’ve got some veteran guys who have good experience now, even our entire leadership group, not just the guys with the letters, we have a great group of guys in there and you can just tell it’s a lot of great people and hard workers on the ice for sure,” said Howden.
The 2016 first round pick of the Lightning just returned from their training camp on Thursday. He said he had a great experience at his first NHL training camp.
“I was happy to get an exhibition game in and right from the rookie tournament all the way until I came home it was a really fun week,” he said. “Brayden Point was there and we hung out everyday, we got a lot closer while I was there and it was a great time.”
Howden suited up for the Lightning in their 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It was a lot of fun for sure, a lot of emotions going on, a lot of anticipation waiting for the game to get started, but once the game started I felt comfortable and got into a groove,” said Howden. “To see guys like (Tyler) Johnson and (Alex) Killorn, you’re sitting next to them on the bench, it’s pretty special and playing against guys like Noah Hanifin and Jeff Skinner, it’s pretty surreal when you’re out there, it was a cool experience and I’m just hoping for more good things to come.”
Howden will have the ‘C’ on his jersey on Friday night when he makes his 2016-17 regular season debut with the Warriors as they host the Red Deer Rebels at Mosaic Place.
You can catch all the action on Country 100, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:40 p.m.