It may not seem like it in his official team head shot taken on Tuesday, but Hershey Bears right winger Garrett Mitchell ALWAYS has a smile on his face, to those fans who have known him for six years now in Chocolatetown.
Trust me, he was smiling on the ice a little while ago, a few minutes removed from being named the 43rd captain in the storied history of the Hershey Bears Hockey Club.
Numerous captain candidates are out there practicing right now. Can we say that no one is more deserving than Mitchell to wear the “C” this year? If you factor past captaincy into the equation, then the answer is, believe it or not, no – we can’t. But if you are factoring leadership, dedication, and longevity in this community, then the choice is clear. It is the 24-year-old Mitchell, who has played all 224 games of his AHL career wearing the Chocolate and White.
I can’t say how happy I am for Mitchell. Like every player, though, he deflects any praise and congratulations and steers it to the teammates around him. But, he is the leader now. And it is just so neat to have watched him come fresh out of the Regina Pats way back when and grow into the leader, father, husband and wonderful human being he is today.
Last year’s alternate captain Mike Moore is back for a second term in that “office”. This is the person who many believe could also serve as a captain, because he has done it so many times. Not to mention, he has FOUR IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year team awards on his resume, and several captaincies – most recently as a member of the Providence Bruins.
Chris Bourque is also a natural choice for a letter for the sole purpose of what this winger has done in the past to bring championships to this community. A point-per-game average over his entire Hershey career? It’s a future Hall-of-Fame achievement, make no mistake about it – both in Hershey and in the entire AHL.
Not many people know of Zach Sill, but let me say this – you are going to love his work on the ice and off. He is one of the best in community appearances, a great talker, and an absolute bull of a player. You won’t move him around easily at all. You won’t win many faceoffs from him. You won’t score many power play goals with him killing penalties. And you won’t exceed the leadership he provides in the room. Bears fans, you will get to know him in a great way. He is the other Bears alternate captain for 2015-16.
One player not on this year’s list, but certainly would be should any of the above miss a game or two, is new defenseman Aaron Ness. Rarely does a player not get a letter after serving as a past captain, like Ness did with last year’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. But that should tell you just how much character and charisma is in our locker room this season.
These were great choices, and I don’t envy the coaching staff. The captains were all announced at the morning team meeting by head coach Troy Mann. With some player vote assistance, the overall captaincy was ultimately decided by the Hershey coaches.
The full opening night roster was also announced today, and you can click here to check it out.
I’ll catch up with Mitchell and have some sound from him later on. Then – after recording and mixing some 25-30 commercials for Saturday’s game – it’s time to FINALLY get going on this upcoming season.
More to come!