The Plymouth Whalers have a new captain for the 2012-13.
Colin MacDonald has scored only three goals in 180 career games. But as his career has moved on, he’s developed into one of the better stay-at-home defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League. On a team full of first-round National Hockey League draft choices and 10 NHL picks, the Whalers appreciate MacDonald’s maturity, on and off the ice.
As a result, Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci announced MacDonald’s captaincy to the team at practice on Sept. 19.
“He (MacDonald) brings work ethic, maturity and leadership off the ice and on the ice, he’s just steady,” Vellucci said. “He’s one of those guys you can always count on. He understands how to play the game.”
The Whalers also appointed Stefan Noesen, Tom Wilson and Conner Carrick assistant captains.
MacDonald was asked if he was surprised at being named captain.
“It wasn’t so much of a surprise, but more of an honor,” he said. “I came into this year hoping to be one of the leaders again and I was happy that they picked me to be captain. I’m going to do as great a job as I can.
The beauty of the OHL is, while the league has stars and high draft picks, there’s plenty of room for others to develop into good players. And MacDonald has come a long way since the Whalers selected him in the 14ht round (270thoverall) in the 2009 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
“It’s not about where you get drafted,” MacDonald said. “I was fortunate to be picked up by Plymouth – it’s a great organization. Mike’s (Vellucci) all about hard work and I’m a hard working kid. So that’s really helped me out in order get more ice time and eventually become captain. I think (becoming captain) it’s a great lesson, because even if you’re drafted late, you can make it.”
The transition for Whaler pups like Zach Bratina, Connor Sills, Alex Peters and the others can be a challenge, on and off the ice. MacDonald and the other veterans help out where they can.
“I just try to show them the ropes,” he said. “I think the biggest thing in your first year is gaining confidence. We try to keep the young guys confident through the year so they’ll play their best.”
MacDonald isn’t the only veteran who helps out younger players. Wilson made a point to drive around Plymouth rookies Matt Mistele, Danny Vanderwiel and others to and from school last season. That’s one of the reasons he was appointed an assistant this year.
MacDonald is currently paired on the Whalers defense with Connor Carrick. Both are intelligent and play opposite styles – MacDonald stays home, Carrick is an excellent skater and puck mover.
“It’s a good pairing, because he’s an offensive defenseman and I’m a defensive-minded guy,” MacDonald said. “So it works out well. I don’t mind staying back.”
Another example of MacDonald’s maturity is his dedication to a Movember initiative for mean’s health, started last year with fellow defenseman Nick Malysa.
“We’re going to be pretty involved again this year and I’m really going to be involved,” MacDonald said. “I found out last year that my grandfather has prostate cancer and he’s been battling through it all summer. So it’s going to be a big thing this year.”
It’s not hard to support MacDonald, on or off the ice.
The Whalers are back in action on Saturday at Compuware Arena at 7:05 pm against Sudbury (6:45 pm, 88.1 The Park WSDP,www.plymouthwhalers.com).
HONOR ROLE: MacDonald is the 21st captain in the Whalers 23-year history. The other Plymouth captains include Beau Schmitz (2010-12), AJ Jenks (2009-10), Chris Terry (2008-09), Andrew Fournier (2007-08), Steve Ward (2006-07), John Vigilante (2005-06), Tim Sestito and John Mitchell (co-captains in 2004-05), James Wisniewski (2003-04), Nate Kiser (2002-03), Jared Newman (2000-02), Randy Fitzgerald (1998-00), Andrew Taylor (1997-98), Mike Morrone (1996-97), Bryan Berard (1995-96), Jamie Allison (1994-95), Todd Harvey (1993-94), Pat Peake (1992-93, plus the second half of 1991-92), Mark Lawrence (first half of the 1991-92 season) and Paul Mitton (1990-91).