It should come as no surprise that the 58th captain in Saskatoon Blades' history is defenceman Evan Fiala (pictured in the team's new third jersey).
The 20-year-old came to the Bridge City Bunch just before last Christmas from Spokane in a blockbuster trade that also brought forward Markson Bechtold, now too old for the W-H-L, to Saskatoon for 57th Blades' captain Wyatt Sloboshan and defenceman Nolan Reid.
"When you're picking a captain, you want to check the boxes and he certainly checked more than others," explained Blue and Gold head coach Dean Brockman as to why the 6'4", 212-pound Clavet product was the choice to wear the "C".
From the time he arrived, and throughout the second half of last season, Fiala earned the respect of his team-mates with his hard-nosed, no-nonsense style of play.
"That's huge," said Fiala, a man of few words publicly. "You're not a captain if you don't have anybody believing in you."
When asked what it means to be a local guy being captain of his home-town team...Clavet is 30 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon on the Yellowhead Highway...the always-smiling captain responded with, "It's just a huge honour. I'm not changing anything, just trying to be me."
Brockman says alternate captains won't be announced until closer to the start of the regular-season next week.
In addition, the Blades introduced their third jerseys...still with the Pacman logo, but with a gold colour base. Following is the news release from the Blades...
The Saskatoon Blades are pleased to announce 20 year old defenceman Evan Fiala as our team captain for the upcoming 2017-18 hockey season. Fiala was presented with the newest edition of the Blades’ pacman inspired 3rd jersey on Tuesday morning at a media conference held at Merlin Ford Lincoln in Saskatoon.
The new sweater comes from a modern spin on the classic pacman uniforms which have recently become the primary logo and outfit for the Blades. As for the new captain, Fiala was acquired by the Blades in a trade with Spokane in December of 2016. Over the course of four seasons, Fiala has suited up for 195 career regular season games, amassing 50 points and 349 penalty minutes.
“I’m very honoured, this is the first time in my life I’ve been named captain. I’ve worn an ‘A’ a few times in my career but putting on the ‘C’ is obviously really exciting.” Explained Fiala, while also maintaining his modesty. “At the same time, nothing really changes for me. I still plan to just be myself and lead by example and we’re fortunate to have a lot of great leaders and characters on our team so it really doesn’t matter who wears the letters.”
The Blades still have four overage players on the roster and while the captaincy puts Fiala at ease, he also knows anything is possible. “It’s somewhat of a relief but I’m also aware that anything can happen at any time, so like I said I’m still going to just be myself.”
Head Coach Dean Brockman says Fiala was in the running since he arrived last season. "Ever since we acquired Evan last December, his leadership qualities have been on full display and we knew after last season he would be a strong candidate to be a part of our leadership group. After talks with our management, coaching and training staff, we felt Evan was the prime candidate to lead this team." said the Blades bench boss.
Evan Fiala becomes the 58th captain in Saskatoon Blades team history and is slated to take part in his first NHL main camp with the Detroit Red Wings later this week. He will be departing for Michigan on Wednesday.