Colin Chaulk isnt a rah-rah type of leader. He doesnt make many speeches. He leads by example, and his example is skating hard every shift.
But when Chaulk does speak, hes 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.
Its 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 its not really true, Chaulk said. But I think Im a person that if something needs to be said to help the team and nobodys 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 dont know, I guess Ill take it. But I try to walk the line.
Anybody could look at Chaulks statistics – he has 142 goals and 536 points in 472 games with the Komets over seven seasons – and realize that hes been magnificent. Add to that three best defensive forward awards in the United Hockey League, and his versatility becomes apparent.
But much of Chaulks production cant 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 Chaulks 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 hes careful about making sure guys arent tired of hearing him. You want to make sure you have a guy who commands the whole room. ... Chaulks leadership isnt (just) something that he goes and says. But he is a vocal leader, and hes not afraid to call a guy out or himself out. Hell say, Were not playing as well as we need to be. Hes a guy who carries the respect of everybody on the team.
More often than not, though, Chaulk expects players to see where hes 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 hes 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 its the right time to do it. Its not at the times you necessarily think, not just when its Game 7 of the finals. Itll be at those times when our energy is low after the second period, or when its tied at 1 and were letting the game slip away.
Hell say something in the dressing room and when its needed, he knows it. Whether we as players want to admit it or not, there are times when you need to hear that, and its 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.