Captain, the term is used to describe those who lead others into battle. The leader, the one at the helm.
In professional sports the captain is identified by the “C” that crests their jersey. Some may say that it can both be a blessing and a curse. The hero when victory is attained, and the goat when all is lost. But to the few that bear it on their jersey it is seen as an honour.
I had the pleasure last summer to work closely with Dion Phaneuf, the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as his trainer. That experience gave me an inside look at why he truly deserves and loves to wear the “C”. Toronto, often called the center of the hockey universe can be a very hard place to play. The passionate fans dearly love their Leafs and can be critical and hard when the efforts of the players don’t produce a win. The “C” in that organization carries a lot of weight. Phaneuf embraces this, and carries it well on his broad shoulders.
Fans may have different opinions on whether or not he should be the captain, but after getting an inside look there is no doubt in my mind the “C” is where it should be.
Lead by example…..this term personifies what Phaneuf is all about. His drive in the gym is unmatched, quitting is not an option. Constantly he pushes himself to improve. He needs no outside motivation. I waited all summer for the text to take the morning off so that he could enjoy the beautiful weather with his lovely wife, perhaps on their boat or on a beach or golf course……..it never came……never. Always work before play, no exceptions.
At his wedding I had the pleasure of attending I got to see just how much respect his teammates had for him as their captain. In private conversation he never threw any of his teammates under the bus, always takes responsibility and never placed himself on a pedestal. He is not a cheerleader nor is he a mouthpiece. He barks when he must and is constantly encouraging. A true mark of a leader.
On game nights when the Leafs pull on their jerseys, his is just a bit heavier, but that’s okay because he is the captain and he wouldn’t have it any other way.