Michael Dal Colle wants to prove he can be leader.
After he returned from the New York Islanders training camp this past September, the Oshawa Generals wasted no time putting the “C” on Dal Colle’s sweater.
The Woodbridge, Ont., native had a spectacular 2014-2015 campaign, scoring 93 points in the regular season and adding 31 playoff points en route to the Memorial Cup.
It’s a different environment this year,” said captain Dal Colle about the new version of the Generals. “We have a lot of new guys this year but I learned from two great leaders, Boone Jenner my first year and Josh Brown the last two.
“Big shoes to fill, but I’m looking forward to it.
Dal Colle was drafted 5th overall by the New York Islanders in 2014 and will be playing in his final year of junior hockey.
Alongside the 19-year-old, other NHL-bound Generals make up a very strong leadership group for Oshawa. The defending Memorial Cup champions sport five rookies on their roster and a plethora of players whose roles and responsibilities have dramatically increased from last year’s campaign.
Stephen Desrocher, the assistant captain and defenceman drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2015, understands the challenges of bringing last year’s attitude into the new environment of the season.
“Lots of young guys, a lot of skill,” said Desrocher about the 2015 Generals. “The guys are working hard every game and that’s all you can ask for from the rookies.
“They will make mistakes, everyone will make mistakes and as the season goes on we will get better and better and come together. Everyone is working hard and when it comes down to it that is all that matters.”
Desrocher is second in scoring this season among defenseman and is coming off a very successful post-season campaign highlighted by a strong offensive performance, getting 12 points in 33 games.
The 19-year-old has nothing but respect for Dal Colle, impressed by the captain’s ability to bring the team together.
“He (Dal Colle) is a great role model on and off the ice,” said the assistant captain. “Off the ice he is a fantastic player. He leads by example and a lot of guys look up to him.
“In the locker room he is a friend with everyone and all the guys really like him. I think he will be great for us as a captain this year.”
Currently on a two game losing streak, the Generals are looking to continue developing and improving this season under the tutelage of head coach Bob Jones.
He, too, is new to the team, replacing last year’s coach D.J. Smith during the offseason who was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs as an assistant coach. Jones spent the last eight years with the Windsor Spitfire organization, winning back-to-back memorial cups in 2009 and 2010 as an assistant coach.
“I think we have a lot of new faces here I just want to make sure these guys are prepared and working hard,” said coach Jones. “They have given that to me so far and you know if we continue to play like that, work hard we will a lot more games than we will lose.”
Prior to Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Kingston Frontenacs, Oshawa added scoring and size in the form of Alexander Renaud from Sarnia.
The 19-year-old left-winger is off to a great start this season, having scored twice while chipping in three assists in five games with the Sting.