Eric Welsh – Chilliwack Progress
The Chilliwack Chiefs waited nearly three quarters of a season before naming a captain in 2018-19. This time, the BCHL club has done it before the puck drops for their opener. Second year Chief Nathan Kelly will wear the C on his jersey with alternates still to be announced. “It’s exciting, absolutely. It’s pretty cool especially with the Chiefs history and all that,” the 19 year old defenceman said. “Honestly, it’s pretty surreal.”
Kelly found out Monday morning when he was called into a quick meeting with the coaching staff. “Brian (Chiefs head coach and GM Maloney) expects me to be a role model for the other guys,” Kelly said. “Lots of communication. Taking steps slowly at the beginning and picking up the boys when they need it.” Maloney described Kelly as a quiet leader, and the South Delta native agrees. Part of his challenge will be learning the right time to be more assertive. “A lot of being captain is leading by example, knowing right from wrong and thinking about everybody, not just yourself, when you make decisions,” Kelly said. “I think it’s going to be sitting back and observing at first, and as I get more comfortable in the role maybe I’ll be a little louder and be the guy others can lean on. “I think it’s important to be open to everyone and be approachable.
“Last year was a great example with (Skyler) Brindy (Brind’Amour). He was another quiet guy, but he did everything right and was great at leading by example. I’d like to mimic his style.” Maloney was in his first year as head coach last year with a roster that had experienced a ton of turnover. Several players eventually emerged as leaders, but none as quickly or as obviously as Kelly. “If a kid is ready to be a leader, then he should lead,” Maloney said. “We weren’t sure about that last year with a whole new group, but we have a good core group coming back, and we have a good idea who they are. “Nathan’s a kid who led by example last year and there’s no shock among his teammates. It’s a pretty unanimous decision.”
Maloney will hold off on naming alternate, seeing who steps up as a natural fit. “We had a long presentation this morning on what it means to be a Chief with things like character and doing the little things, practicing hard, being on time, being a good teammate and being good in the community,” Maloney said. “These are things that Nathan already does. “Will there be a learning experience for him figuring out when to speak his mind? Yeah, there’s stuff he’s going to have to worry about, but we’ve told him we don’t expect him to change.”