Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
The Brockville Braves announced their captain roles and the picks show a pretty clear sign as to what the team is trying to represent.
Forward Fred Allaire was chosen as the 2018-19 captain for the Braves, while Philippe Gilmour, Eric Faith, and Simon Kerr were selected to wear the A on their jerseys.
“Their progression, especially late last year and into the playoffs, they were leaders and they’ve continued that day one this training camp,” said Braves head coach Jesse Winchester. “We’re lucky to have them and we’re going to lean on them pretty heavily.”
In a weird way the bunch are almost like a group of one-time misfits that proved everybody wrong in their own way.
Allaire was a depth centre last year. He never played in a top-six forward role in his first season with the Braves. Still, that didn’t stop him from getting more and more ice time as the season continued. At the start of the year it would have been understandable if you had no idea who Allaire was. As the year progressed you would wait in anticipation for his line to roll out with its aggressive style that always seemed to give the Braves a spark when they needed it.
“(Allaire) is just really well-respected and probably the hardest working guy in the league. He’s in shape and drives the pace in practice,” said Winchester. “He was an absolute warrior for us in the playoffs last year. The guys respect him and he’s the ultimate competitor. He sets the tone for how we want to be.”
This is actually the second time Faith has been named an assistant captain for Brockville. Winchester, the new coach of the Braves at the time, came into last season blind and said he handed Faith a letter because he was entering his third season with Brockville. He didn’t necessarily earn the assistant captain role on merit, but got it for his longevity with the team.
Faith ended up not meeting expectations and he was traded to the Kemptville 73s last year. Brockville made a deal to bring him back 78 days later and he returned to the team looking like a completely different player. Points were coming from him when he came back, but it was all the little things he did that stood-out like beating opponents to pucks, blocking shots, and grinding in front of the net. Faith ended up winning the team’s playoff MVP award last year.
“Last year we just gave (Faith) an A,” said Winchester. “This year it was a true pleasure to give it to him.”
All you need to know about Kerr is where he started before the Braves and where he is now. He was cut by the Kingston Voyageurs heading into last season and the Braves picked him up early into the year for nothing. This year Kerr missed the start of Braves camp because he was part of the CCHL all-star team that went to Russia to play in the Junior Club World Cup where he won a bronze medal.
“This year (Kerr’s) offence is going to take off. He’s more poised with the puck after his experience in Russia too,” said Winchester. “He’s going to be a big-timer.”
Gilmour is sort of the exception of the group in terms of being a redemption story, but he’s progressed all the same. He joined the Braves last year with a fair amount of hype surrounding his offensive abilities and he came as advertised. Over the year, though, he became so much more than just a point-producer. That high-end skill was always there, but he’s a much more well-rounded player now and takes care of his own end as well.
“(Gilmour) has improved so much. He comes with a natural ability to score, but his game is well-rounded now and he worked at that last year,” said Winchester. “He wants to get better everyday.”
Honestly, you could have pointed to anyone of these guys during parts of last season and if you would have predicted they would be the next wave of leadership for the 2018-19 team then most people wouldn’t have taken you seriously.
Allaire? The fourth-liner?
Faith? Isn’t he in Kemptville?
Kerr? Kingston’s castoff?
Gilmour? The guy who is defensively irresponsible?
Each of them are being rewarded for not just the type of player they are now, but who they were a year ago at this time. That statement should speak volumes to the philosophy and state of the current Braves, as well as be a pretty loud message to every new player on the team regardless of where they are on the depth chart.
It also says something that Winchester wanted Allaire, Gilmour, Faith, and Kerr to share the same amount of ink in this article. He didn’t want the focus just on Allaire.
“If you’re doing a story then make it about all of them because they all emerged as special kids in our program and they’re all very deserving,” said Winchester. “I texted them last night just saying what I think of them and how lucky we are to have them in our program. They’ve all grown so much.”
They have the letters on their jerseys to prove it.