There is a lot of change happening with the 2015 Calder Cup winning hockey team. A new coach, new players and even a new name, but one thing remains the same.
“We want to do it again,” Ryan Craig, Cleveland Monsters’ Captain and left wing, said.
The Monsters prepare for the upcoming season at the OBM Arena in Strongsville, the first with new head coach John Madden at the helm.
Madden is a former NHL player and three-time Stanley Cup winner with the New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks. This will be his first year as a head coach, taking over the team from Jared Bednar, who was hired as the head coach for the Colorado Avalanche. He spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach for the Florida Panthers. Madden is going to use his experience as a player winning titles to help this team prepare for what is in front of them.
“When you win, there is a little bit of a bull’s-eye on your back and when you come to the rink, teams are going to measure themselves against you and bring it,” Madden said.
In practice, Madden is right in the middle of the drills, passing the puck and receiving the puck quickly as guys skate in a circle around him. When the whistle blows and the team meets for the next drill, Madden is right in the middle of it, with all eyes on him.
“I like the work ethic,” Madden said. “I like the closeness of the team. We have great leadership and a bunch of young guys who are hungry to prove themselves.”
Though a few of last year’s playoff heroes have been promoted to Columbus, and a new bunch of faces are in camp, the goal remains the same for the organization, to win.
“We want to develop the players, we want to play the young kids, we want them to get better and a significant part of that development is being apart of a winner and learning how to win.” Bill Zito, general manager of the Cleveland Monsters said.
The returning guys are looking to make an impact with the team and the veteran leadership has noticed.
“The faces back are a year older and the young guys that took a step forward are now in their second and third seasons as pros and are that much closer to being NHL players.” Craig said.
The Calder Cup champion banner will be raised before the first game of the season Friday, October 14, before the Monsters take on the Rockford Icehogs at 7:00 pm.
“Its going to be real exciting raising the banner. we have been waiting for that time to come and knowing that the banner is going to be there forever.” Craig said.