Pietrus “surprised but honoured" to be made Blaze Captain
Jordan Pietrus’ Genting Casino Coventry Blaze career is on an upward spiral. After signing for the club in October last year, the leading goal and point’s scorer in the Polish league the season previous got off to a slower start than he would have hoped for. Taking time to adjust to a new culture, travel schedule, pace and physicality of the Elite League, approaching the new-year, the 30-year-old exploded into one of the league’s Players of the Season. A Playoff final appearance to end his debut season in Coventry was just reward for the Canadian’s endeavours, as well as a wheel barrow full of trophies at the subsequent awards night.
The next reward? The Captaincy, which Pietrus admits was something he wasn’t expecting.
“I have to say that I was a bit surprised with Ash (Tait) being named Assistant Coach there was talk that we would have a new Captain this year. When I think about the returning guys in that locker room, Ash, Cowls (Russ Cowley), Nobes (Kevin Noble), Robbo (Brett Robinson), Jorgy (Jim Jorgensen), Gods (Josh Godfrey), Stewey (Brian Stewart), V (Ross Venus), Clemo (David Clements); that room is full of strong leaders. Those guys lead regardless of the letter on their jersey, and many of them could very easily have been named Captain. To be selected from that group of characters, and very talented guys is such an honour because I could see all of them being a Captain and leading in their own way.”
Taking on leadership responsibility isn’t unfamiliar for Pietrus, who was the Captain of his junior team, the fabulously named Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, as well as sharing captaincy duties during his senior year at the acclaimed Brown University (NCAA), where he was named the winner of the prestigious Derek Hines Unsung Hero award. In pro, Pietrus also had the distinction of wearing the “A” for three seasons at the Elmira Jackals (ECHL) and says he will lean on this experience in his new role with Coventry.
“I think I've learned a lot over the years, being in a leadership role and observing others that have had the responsibility. I will definitely take it very seriously and will do my absolute personal best to lead Blaze to a Championship this season. On any team though, leadership by committee is extremely important. Although I will be given the honour of wearing the "C", we will need the entire group always pulling the rope in the same direction if we want to have any success.”
Pietrus is typically full of praise for his predecessor, British Ice Hockey legend Ashley Tait, accepting that he has a tough act to follow
“Watching Ash last year was great for me as well. He is a man full of class and poise, so to see how he handled himself on the ice, in public and behind the scenes was a treat for me. There's no question I have some big shoes to fill, but it will be nice to have a resource like him who's been through it all, to ask questions and talk things through with.”
The scorer of 27 goals, 49 points in 59 games last season however was quick to point out that he doesn’t envisage being able to match Tait in one particular department.
“One thing is for sure, I know I cannot dress as well as Ash does, he's got some great style!”
The 5’10” forward whose tenacity, work-ethic and willingness to stick up for his teammates last season earned him the respect of his colleagues and fans alike said the responsibility of captaincy wouldn’t change his style of play.
“I don't think it will change me as a player, nor do I think it should. I believe part of the reason Danny (Stewart) and the management team trusts me is because of my game on the ice. I think it would be a mistake by me to change myself as a player to try to be something I believe others think I should be.”
Jordan is also well known for being a keen family man. His parents travelled from Canada last season to watch numerous Blaze games and both are keen hockey fans. Therefore, it’s no surprise to anyone that the Pietrus family are very proud of the number 16 who gives his loved one’s equal credit for what he has achieved so far in his career.
“My parents, sister and Shannon (Jordan’s wife) are very proud of me and everyone in my family is excited for the upcoming season! They are a big reason why I have the opportunity to play hockey in the Elite League. I've learned so much from them and without their support I couldn't play at this level.”
Ice Hockey players, especially in the Elite League rarely get a chance for a break, however the new Blaze captain certainly isn’t resting on his laurels this summer.
“It’s been a crazy time for Shannon and I. We have spent a ton of time visiting family both in the US and in Canada which has been amazing. We have had a couple of weddings and I am working on completing my schooling remotely at Coventry University, so it's been a non-stop summer. It's been great to get the time to recharge mentally and emotionally. I've also been in the gym preparing for the end of August, definitely excited to get back, see the returning players, meet the new guys and just get out on the ice and get after it! The league is so competitive we need to be ready at the drop of the puck, first game of the year right through to the final buzzer at the end of the season.”
Article: Rob Plaister (@DRPLogistics)