Ian Clark's Monarchs Notebook: Vey leads Monarchs' youth movement
The letter "A" on Linden Vey's sweater might have come as a surprise to some, but not to anyone inside the Manchester Monarchs organization.
Defensemen Andrew Campbell and Andrew Bodnarchuk are both in their sixth AHL seasons. Campbell was awarded the captain's "C" and Bodnarchuk is once again wearing an alternate captain's "A."
In just his third pro season, Vey earned the other "A" as part of a youth movement that continues in Manchester. "From an organizational standpoint we feel like it's important to develop a younger leadership group so that those guys learn how to pull their weight too," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "We have representation from a couple of veteran players and we felt like adding a younger player to the mix that showed some leadership abilities and qualities ... to include him in that group would be a good idea."
Vey was honored to earn the letter.
"Obviously, it's a big deal for me. You want to be that guy. You want to be a guy that's looked to," Vey said prior to Saturday's matinee against St. John's. "The onus is on you to make sure everyone is ready and to lead by example."
Vey was quick to point out that any number of players could wear the letters in Manchester.
"Everyone is a leader. A lot of different guys are vocal and work hard on the ice," Vey said. "It's a team effort and we're the guys that Mark chose and we take a little more responsibility. But it's a team and we all work together."
A centerman, Vey's offensive skills have never been in doubt. In his first two seasons he scored 41 goals and 69 assists for 110 points. Heading into Saturday's game, Vey was tied for the team lead with nine points on two goals and seven helpers.
But like most young players, staying an offensive threat while still playing a sound defensive game can be tough.
"Linden can be a real stalwart for us," Morris said. "He's a tremendous asset to everyone he plays with. He's a great puck distrubutor and we need more consistency from his defensive game and he knows it."
Morris said that desire is the most important part of playing well in your own zone as a forward.
"It's a choice, whether you really want to bear down and become that 200-foot player that everyone strives to be," Morris said. "For some, it's stubborn habits that are hard to break and I think in his case, we saw (Friday) that he was reliable and dependable for the most part."
Vey agreed that the mental aspect is the toughest thing to get a handle on with defensive responsibilities, which are not emphasized in junior hockey.
"The biggest thing for guys that come out of junior and put up a lot of points, your mindset isn't to play defense," Vey said. "You think you can get away with a lot in junior and you come to the pro level and you give teams an opportunity and they capitalize on it. You have to make sure you mentally prepare and want to play in all three zones."
And Vey knows that getting his entire game in order is a must if he wants to play with Los Angeles at the NHL level.
"You look at the NHL and everyone can play in all three zones," he said. "You don't realize, but when you play well in your own zone you get that many more opportunities in the offensive zone. It's a work in progress and you need to make sure you get better every game."
Kitsyn gets in: Center Robbie Czarnik was a healthy scratch for Saturday's game against St. John's, allowing rookie Maxim Kitsyn to skate in his second game.
"Robbie played a fine game (Friday) but we're trying to get some of the guys a little bit of ice who have been working hard in practice," Morris said. "We've got some line combinations that we know work."
Czarnik has one goal in six games this season. Kitsyn did not record a point in his one game. Holdy Honored: Monarchs equipment manager Mike Holden was honored prior to Friday's game as the organization acklowledged his 1,500th game with the team.
Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.