It was a Thursday morning. Connor Sedlak, Luke deVries, Oliver Band, and Jared Kaplowitz were all getting ready for practice the day before they played in Johnstown for a weekend series with the Tomahawks. Rebels’ head coach Justin Hale walked into the locker room and announced to the team that a decision on captains had been made. Sedlak and deVries were going to become the first captains in Philadelphia Rebels’ franchise history, while Band and Kaplowitz would serve as assistant captains.
Hale came to the decision after gathering input from players and staff while having his own opinion on the topic.
Hale defined the decision as “a collaborative process,” and came to a conclusion after “the staff [had] a series of conversations with all players on the roster throughout the course of training camp and the start of the year.” Hale added that young players and returning players were asked about “who they felt were leaders within the room, and who they felt showed leadership through example and work ethic. It was through all of those conversations where the same names consistently popped up. Ultimately, that’s where we as coaches made the decision to name those guys. All good people who care about their own development as well as the development of the group.”
Hale went on to talk about each captain individually.
“Sedlak did a great job stepping up right away, taking the reins. He was vocal and got the group organized when it came to the day to day routine, communicating messages, or general concerns from the room. He’s a returning player that played in the Rebels’ jersey last year, which was an important factor, he’s a New Jersey kid, and those were all contributors. Finally, he’s a good player.”
“deVries, wore the Rebels’ jersey last season. He’s a guy that may not always be as vocal, but he’s a pro on and off the ice. He takes his approach to the game very seriously. His preparation, work ethic, in the gym and on the ice, definitely put forth a great example for the day to day life of a hockey player. He definitely is a great lead by example guy.”
“Oliver Band, he has a year of junior experience under his belt. He’s very charismatic. Another vocal leader within the room. He does things the right way. He is someone in the room that is a good communicator. Players on the team flock to him, everyone feels comfortable with him and respects what he has to say.”
“Kaplowitz, very similar to deVries. A guy who is a hard worker on and off the ice. A guy who competes. He does a lot of little things. He’s not overly vocal, but when he speaks, players listen. He has a good viewpoint, he has a year of junior experience under his belt.”
“It all starts at the top with the captains,” were the first words from Kaplowitz when asked what added responsibilities come with being a captain. Kaplowitz went on to say that captains lead by example which is something for the younger guys to follow.
Band noted that one important aspect of being a captain is pushing teammates in practice. “Making sure guys can get out of their comfort zones is important,” were the words from the assistant captain.
deVries echoed Band’s message. “Whatever we do on the ice, they are going to think is acceptable. We always have to be ready to go and always have to work hard so they follow our example.”
Sedlak’s message to the team was simple: “Winning is the standard. We have to remind them of that on a daily and weekly basis.”
Sedlak also shared that he got a call from former Rebels’ captain, John Lundy, to congratulate him. Lundy is now playing college hockey at American International College in Springfield, MA. Sedlak said that Lundy’s advice for him was simple: “Set the standard. On the ice and off the ice, hold everyone accountable, and do what you think you need to do to create a good culture in the room.”
Among many things the group wants to accomplish, one of the priorities is helping younger players make the jump from youth hockey to juniors. “We want to help their transition go as smoothly as possible and be there for them whenever we can be,” were the exact words from Sedlak.
When asked if he would do anything different now considering the fact he is wearing a letter, Kaplowitz said he wouldn’t try to change anything. “Just want to help our young group excel in their transition to juniors and let them know that teams get better when individuals get better.”
Sedlak agreed with Kaplowitz, “I think we all got these letters for what we’ve done over the last two and a half months. We just need to keep setting the standard and be good role models.”
When asked what the emotions like and what it means to be a captain, all four of the leaders expressed gratitude toward teammates and the coaching staff while sharing what it meant to them individually.
Kaplowitz called it “an honor,” as he has never worn a letter before. He also stated that he is excited to represent the team.
Band, who has worn a letter before but never in juniors, called it “pretty cool and special to say the least. Happy for other guys who got letters as well, but the work starts now and we can’t get comfortable at all.”
deVries, who took a moment to gather his thoughts, said he was “truly honored to receive a letter. Really thankful to the coaches and players for trusting us to be leaders on this team.”
Sedlak’s response was similar to his three teammates’. “Excited and really honored. We have a great staff here that trust us to be leaders. I was really excited when it was announced because I feel like this is the right group to relay messages and hold the helm.”