Colin Chaulk isn’t a rah-rah type of leader. He doesn’t make many speeches. He leads by example, and his example is skating hard every shift.
But when Chaulk does speak, he’s not afraid to yell, critique, do what it takes to get another player to analyze his own game.
When Chaulk preaches, it usually serves its purpose and inspires. The evidence is in the three championship rings he owns.
It’s for his leadership, and his undeniable talents on the ice, that Chaulk has been selected as the Komets’ Player of the Decade by The Journal Gazette.
Sometimes you get labeled as a leader. Sometimes it’s not really true, Chaulk said. But I think I’m a person that if something needs to be said to help the team and nobody’s saying it, then it bothers me too much. I have to say something. I have to do something. If that makes me a leader, I don’t know, I guess I’ll take it. But I try to walk the line.
Anybody could look at Chaulk’s statistics – he has 142 goals and 536 points in 472 games with the Komets over seven seasons – and realize that he’s been magnificent. Add to that three best defensive forward awards in the United Hockey League, and his versatility becomes apparent.
But much of Chaulk’s production can’t so easily be measured. He has been the leader on Fort Wayne teams that won championships in 2003, 2008 and 2009, not an easy task considering those squads were a mixture of veterans and youngsters.
Chaulk was the player who helped them jell.
His leadership is just something from his personality, left wing P.C. Drouin said. He likes to be the alpha male.
The importance of Chaulk’s leadership was readily apparent last season because of his absence. Chaulk missed 35 games because of an infection in his foot. When he came back, the team refocused and captured a second straight Turner Cup.
He was the biggest piece of the puzzle that was missing, goaltender Nick Boucher said. (Coach) Al Sims can only do so much, and he’s careful about making sure guys aren’t tired of hearing him. You want to make sure you have a guy who commands the whole room. ... Chaulk’s leadership isn’t (just) something that he goes and says. But he is a vocal leader, and he’s not afraid to call a guy out or himself out. He’ll say, We’re not playing as well as we need to be.’ He’s a guy who carries the respect of everybody on the team.
More often than not, though, Chaulk expects players to see where he’s going with his play and follow.
Despite being a skill player, he can get nasty. His tenacity and ability to agitate opponents is legendary, and he’s not one to shy away from fighting.
When other players see Chaulk doing the dirty work, they get the message.
Chaulker works hard and leads by example, Drouin said. And when he chooses to speak, he knows it’s the right time to do it. It’s not at the times you necessarily think, not just when it’s Game 7 of the finals. It’ll be at those times when our energy is low after the second period, or when it’s tied at 1 and we’re letting the game slip away.
He’ll say something in the dressing room and when it’s needed, he knows it. Whether we as players want to admit it or not, there are times when you need to hear that, and it’s good to have someone like Chaulk who will say what needs to be said.
Added former Komets left wing Bobby Stewart: Every game, I wanted to play just as hard as (Chaulk). This is his true leadership. He was OK with words, but more a lead-by-example guy. He would tell guys to calm down, yet he would be the most excited out of everyone. He battled every shift, every minute and played tough.