Perhaps there is no other role on a hockey team that is more important than the team’s Captain. There are times when the leader of a team has to hold his men accountable for their actions on-ice and make sure the team is meshing as a unit. This happens all the while he holds himself accountable for his own on-ice performance.
Before the start of the 2015-16 season, the Norfolk Admirals coaching staff appointed 26-year-old defenseman Jordan Hill to take the team’s reins. Hill drops anchor in Norfolk after spending the last two seasons in the AHL with the St. John’s Ice Caps.
The Sarnia, Ontario native says it’s an honor to wear the Captain C in the ECHL. “It’s a tremendous honor. Obviously I expect a lot out of myself, but in return I expect a lot out of everyone else. I have to hold the team and myself accountable. That’s what good Captains do and I had a few in my day so I’m just trying to learn every day to get better as a team and an individual,” said Hill.
Hill’s leadership ability did not start at the pro level. His roots as a leader can be traced to his OHL career with his hometown junior team the Sarnia Sting. The left-handed shot described the differences between wearing the C in juniors and pro, “You have to be responsible. You have to take care of yourself. That’s the only thing as a player you learn as you get older and you play through the hockey world. You learn every night is a new night. It doesn’t matter what you did last night. You have to show up and expect a lot. In juniors sometimes your skill level can give you a night or two off, because you rely on your skill, but in pro it’s every night and every day you have practice.”
In Norfolk expect Hill to lead by example as he put it, “I definitely lead by example. I like to speak up. It’s one of those things where you put your head down and you work hard when it’s called upon and you have fun when it’s called upon, but at the end of the day you have to show up and work hard. Lead by example is the best way to do it I think.”
Although this Norfolk team is fairly young, everyone has a say so in the room. It’s leadership by committee Hill implied, “We have a younger group, but we have a tremendous leadership group, guys that are willing to step up, be vocal. It’s not just one guy in that room, it’s everybody even the guys who aren’t wearing a letter. We still have guys that are able to step up and be leaders.”
He also admitted now that he’s Captain there’s a little added pressure on him personally, but Hill welcomes the added
pressure, “You have to look at yourself in the mirror after every game and say ‘is that the best I could have put out there.’You hold yourself to a higher regard when the team is counting on you. There’s added pressure, but as a hockey player that’s what you thrive on. Everyone wants more pressure, game situations and individual. You want to be counted on everyday.”
In hockey, players must stay focused and stay on an even keel. It’s part of the Captain’s job to keep players honest and not let them get too high or too low. Hill described how he makes that possible, “It’s a challenge. There are times where you get up in a period, things are going well and you get a little excited and you just try and remind them to not go overboard. You can’t get too high or too low even when things are bad. You’ve got to stick to the system and stay the course and that’s how good teams find a way to win every night.”
Norfolk’s assistant coach Ben Boudreau says Jordan’s leadership ability shines in his personality, “You can kind of tell it’s in him personally just the way he speaks to you right away. I didn’t meet him until training camp, but I had a lot of conversations with him in the summer and every time he spoke, he carried himself exactly as you would want in a leader.”
“He said the right things, he did the right things, and when he got here he led by example. I think those are all qualities that you want in a leader and a Captain and he’s been doing it since the first day he stepped on the ice. He’s always positive and always upbeat. He’s an older guy that you can rely on, some good experience. I think it was a pretty easy choice not just from the coaching staff, but the players as well. They kind of knew that it was easy to decide who the Captain was going to be.”
Boudreau also touched on his composure which is a huge asset on an ECHL blue line, “The one thing you really notice is his composure. He doesn’t panic which is what you want especially in the late game situations. It’s really something that you need. To have him back there in those 2-1 game situations, he’s great, he’s composed and he’s not going to lose his temper. He’s a big guy who moves the puck well. He can play on both ends of the ice rather its offense or defense, he’s going to be there. That’s been a really good area for us to rely on somebody who’s been in those situations before”
All-in-all Hill has the blueprint to be a great captain with the Admirals in Norfolk as they continue their transition back to the ECHL.