Let’s start at the beginning: the ceremonial puck drop. While I could be looking too much into this, usually a captain takes part in that ceremony. Without one, who steps up? Who do you think?
We move on to the game. My glass level seats (sorry, I had to throw that in there) provided me with a unique appreciation to his style of play. For a man with so much skill, he does not rely on his finesse to get by. After a multitude of bone-crunching hits, puck battles won in the corners and rushes up ice, Brandon Dubinsky showed he came to play.
And he came to lead.
Late in the game, when Jack Johnson was called for interference, Brandon Dubinsky demanded an explanation from the refs. And when one was given, one he did not agree with, he didn’t skate back to the face-off circle with his head held low – he shouted at the ref. Back at the face-off, when Nikita Nikitin was lined up in the wrong position, Captain Dubinksy let him have it, demanding he get back to his spot.
This may not seem like groundbreaking news to other teams, but we’ve never had a captain. You heard me right. Yes, obviously several Columbus Blue Jackets have donned the “C” but that does not make you a captain. Leadership, accountability for not just yourself, but your whole team, and consistent play (among other things) is what makes you a captain.
On the drive home last night, I was eagerly awaiting Brandon Dubinsky’s post-game response. While he was giving his no B.S. answers, I was waiting for that extra comment that would show the reporter, his teammates, and himself who the real leader was. And he delivered.
When asked if the energy level on the ice changed from the beginning of the game, Dubinsky wasn’t grasping for excuses. He said:
“I don’t think so. I mean we just didn’t play good enough.I don’t really know what to tell you. We gotta be better. I think everyone can do better. I don’t think there was one guy that just stood out from the group as far as having a great game. I think 20 guys need to play harder tomorrow.”
Dubinsky didn’t point to the amount of times that we went on the PK. He didn’t complain about the refs and their controversial call at the end of the game. Not once did the center blame any other factor for the loss other than their own lack of hard play. And he had no problem calling out his teammates for poor play.
When asked if the 8-game layoff affected their struggle with the Calgary speed and forcheck, he was quick to shut that down:
“We’re not going to make excuses in this room. We just simply gotta play better.”
Those are the words of a captain. Those are the words of a leader in a locker room in need of a leader. After being handed a 4-3 loss by the Calgary Flames, Brandon Dubisnky answered questions for the media. And unlike Rick Nash, Dubinsky wasn’t making excuses or trying to spare feelings.
In years past, Nash would time and time again steer away from those types of questions to highlight what the team did right, even after blowouts. But not Dubinsky. He held not only himself accountable (mentioning that he turned the puck over on a bad pass to David Savard and not getting back on defense, resulting in an odd man rush for the Flames), he holds the entire room accountable when he says “we’re not going to make excuses in this room.” There was no “I” in that quote.
With Brandon Dubinsky’s actions, on and off the ice, it shows me one thing: he’s less concerned with making excuses for losing, and more concerned with taking the necessary steps for winning.
Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets