Sean Monahan Has Always Been a Hard Working Leader



(Veteran sports writer Steve MacFarlane stops by FN again and shares his look at rookie Sean Monahan)

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The Calgary Flames preseason schedule was freshly in the books, and long after the post-game player availability in the dressing room, head coach Bob Hartley headed back toward his office following his media scrum down the hall. He spotted Sean Monahan talking to a camera crew, which had just begun questioning the 18-year-old after the rookie patiently spoke at length with a pair of reporters who waited for the trainers to finish working on the slightly banged-up centre.

“Pull him outta there,” Hartley barked at one of the media relations staff. “It’s been an hour.”

If Monahan minded, he sure didn’t show it. “It’s something I’m getting used to,” he had just finished saying. “It’s all fun. It’s a good time."

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Nothing seems to faze the first-round pick. It never has.

Cut from the cloth of calm

From the first taste of rejection in peewee hockey, to last year’s snub from Team Canada at world junior selection camp, Monahan just keeps moving forward. It’s that display of maturity, work ethic, determination and natural skill that ultimately led to him being selected sixth overall by the Flames at last spring’s draft. It’s also what has earned him at least a look in the regular season before the NHL club decides whether or not to send the major junior captain back to the OHL’s Ottawa 67s.

He’ll play as many as nine games before that moment of clarity comes, although Flames GM Jay Feaster suggested Monahan may sit for learning opportunities in between his appearances on the ice, which could ultimately prolong his stay but not guarantee a full season in the big league.

So far, through development camp, the rookie tournament, and training camp, Monahan seems to have gotten stronger on the ice and more comfortable off it. He compares it to his first experience in the junior ranks.

“My first step like that was going into my first OHL camp. I didn’t know what to expect there and I learned quickly,” Monahan says. “I guess I got better as the season went on. That’s something I’m trying to do here.”

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His future as a Flame – at least in the short term – depends on that. With president of hockey ops Brian Burke’s track record of sending guys back to junior more often than not, Monahan will have to show he can earn enough minutes in the NHL to make it work keeping him around. Given Monahan’s history of finding ways to grow, you might want to bet on it.

From shy kid to captain in the nation’s capital

When he was just starting out on the ice as a three-year-old in the suburbs of Toronto, the ultra-shy Monahan would find ways to trick his dad John into sticking around on the bench or coach. By the time he was six, he was already a feisty competitor.

Raised by a hockey family – with an uncle who played pro in Italy, a grandfather who suited up with the Pittsburgh Hornets in the AHL, and cousin who turned pro in Germany – Monahan came by his passion for the game naturally.

“I just like to work hard. That’s something I’ve done as a player ever since I was a little kid. It’s just kind of in my family’s genes,” Monahan says. “My dad and my grandpa would always be tough on me even when I was six years old."

They wanted him to focus on puck possession, winning faceoffs so he didn’t have to chase pucks around. Not your typical coaching advice for a toddler, but something that helped him think the game the right way from a young age.

“Starting at six, it’s really carried with me, that competitive nature.”

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By the time he was 16, he was ready for a full-time role in the OHL, posting 20 goals and 47 points in 65 games as a rookie with the 67s. He topped 30 goals and 78 points in 63 games the following season and then nearly identical stats in his draft year as captain of a struggling team that lost key personnel. Even now as the 67s wait to see if Monahan returns, the "C" on his sweater remains.

Things weren’t always easy, however, even though his natural ability always seemed to shine through in the clutch, whether he was playing lacrosse, hockey, or pickup basketball.

Rejection only motivates him more

“Obviously you want to prove people wrong for making decisions, but at the end of the day, you’ve just got to do what you do and whatever comes of that, it’s going to show the best of you,” Monahan says when asked about being cut by the North York Rangers of the OJHL.

He found another team in the league to captain, leading the Mississauga Rebels to the first OHL Cup tournament title for a wildcard team with 13 points in seven games. He was named MVP of the tourney. Monahan will look to make up for missing out on the 2013 world juniors experience this holiday season as well after being cut from last year’s camp following a 10-game suspension that saw him enter selection camp in less than ideal physical condition.

“I wasn’t in a game for a while and that was tough for me. I hopped into that high pace again,” Monahan reflects. “I learned a lot. That tournament’s quick and they’re looking for the most ready players. Unfortunately I wasn’t part of that, but I think I know what to expect coming into this next camp.”

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That’s assuming the Flames let him go if he’s still on the NHL roster.

Around the Nation

  • ChinookArchYYC

    It’s really hard not to get excited about this kid. And as much as I’d like to see him wearing crimson this year, I’ll take him on Team Canada as a consolation. Too bad he can’t play in Abby, that would have been perfect for him at this stage.

  • mk

    Based on Feaster’s comments the other day i’m confident he will be sent down to junior which I think is a good thing. I’m guessing he’s around for 12ish games… 9 playing and the other 3 watching/learning from the press box. This is what I hope anyway – think it’s best for him. Start off with 67’s, trade to a contender, play at World Juniors…

  • piscera.infada

    Leafs sign Kessel long term, yahoo now I don;t have to listen to people suggest that Burke was going to pursue him in the off season.(I can keep cheering for the Flames) $8 million who do the think they have Crosby, Gretzky rolled into one.

    Monahan; the more I hear about him and see him play the more I am moved to him being here all season. Although I am still of the opinion of 9 and down. I would also be okay with him being here and the Flmes letting him go to WJHC.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    “He’ll play as many as nine games before that moment of clarity comes, although Flames GM Jay Feaster suggested Monahan may sit for learning opportunities in between his appearances on the ice, which could ultimately prolong his stay but not guarantee a full season in the big league.”

    This is the part that worries me. In think that he should be slotted to play in at least 9 of the first 11 games, and if not then he should go down right now. Feaster makes it sound as if it could be November by the time the nine games are done and that does nothing to help improve a young player.

    • piscera.infada

      “Feaster makes it sound as if it could be November by the time the nine games are done and that does nothing to help improve a young player.”

      Management isn’t full of morons (believe it, or not). They know the best thing for him is to play and play lots, regardless of where. So yeah, maybe he plays a couple games, then sits for one so he can see what he needs to be doing, but they aren’t going to sit him in the press box for two months. Burke even said, albeit prior to his much maligned Baertschi comment, that “Monahan will stay in the NHL if Hartley can play him 15 to 20 or more minutes a night”. If he isn’t being utilized in a productive way, he goes down – that’s a given with Burke’s penchant for sending young guys back down.

      • the forgotten man

        Management isn’t full of morons (believe it, or not).

        Based on what evidence to date?
        They are putting the finishing touches on Baertschi’s career…next up Monahan mismanagement?
        Only now does Feaster do a mea culpa in the Herald of mishandling Baertschi after the Org overly hyped the kid for a year…mainly as another Bread and Circus Act to distract from how horrible the on ice product was.

        For the sake of Monahans career send him back to Junior…there is still a deep stench in this Franchise and the longer Monahan stays away from it the better for the future of our beloved Flames.

        • loudogYYC

          Putting the finishing touches on Baertschi’s career? That’s a giant overreaction. I hope you’re not one that thinks that the kids should just be treated as kids until they’re ready to become adults.

          The kid got cocky and let everything he had going for him get to his head. I’m really glad Burke played bad cop and called him out. Even Feaster, playing good cop, said he’ll see where Baertschi’s game is at when Cammalleri is ready to come back, hinting that he could end up in the AHL again.

          No one player is greater than the team, so that attitude has to be corrected immediately. If Baertschi can’t handle that, then he won’t be a good pro anywhere he plays. Simple as that.

          • the forgotten man

            Yeah right, just like its always the players fault and not the management of this team…mishandling forward prospects is not a bug but a feature of this Club…one has years and many names to backup that assertion. Sorry buddy but the Org built up Sven as the next Saviour, not Sven…the Org is theoretically the adults in the room…now that sven is playing to his capabilities, the Org covers their butts and has Classy as ever Burke throw him under the bus. Looks like a rock solid strategy for success plus a great message to send to our other prospects.

            Here is a little palate cleanser for all the Feaster/Weisbrod Fanboys at FN:

            CHICAGO — Sick, filthy, great and fantastic were among the words used on Twitter to describe a certain Chicago Blackhawks player’s stick-handling skills on Thursday.

            Can you guess who?

            The answer isn’t Patrick Kane. Teuvo Teravainen was the one lighting up Twitter with a handful of moves normally only seen from Kane.

            But just as the Blackhawks and their fans were getting excited by a taste of the 19-year-old Teravainen’s skills, he’s leaving them.

            Teravainen is scheduled to board a plane on Friday and head home to Finland. His stay with the Blackhawks was always planned to last just the start of training camp and two preseason games. He’ll spend this season with Jokerit in Finland’s SM-liiga and could be back to Chicago as early as April. If not this season, Teravainen is expected to be a full-time Blackhawk next season.

            Whenever Teravainen does return, he’ll have plenty of people happy to greet him again.

            “The exciting thing is just seeing what the potential for him is,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said on Thursday. “He just turned 19 a week or so ago. He’s got a bright future, so we’re excited.”

          • loudogYYC

            Not sure where you’re going with that rant, but when a cocky 20 year old prospect shows up with an entitled attitude to a pro NHL camp, someone has to put him in his place. You can blame whoever you want for that, just don’t forget the media and fans.

            Chicago just won 2 Stanley Cups in the past 4 years. They way they handle prospects has to be different to the way a team in the bottom half handles theirs.

            A better example than Teravainen would be Kadri, btw.

        • piscera.infada

          Get over yourself. This is yet another example of fans thinking they’re smarter than both management and the coaching staff. With that, I’m not saying never question what they’re doing, but there’s no reason to assume the worst.

          There is enough blame to go around with Baertschi, from all parties involved – the media, the fans, the player, and management. In fact, I don’t recall management rolling out the red carpet, bowing at Baertschi’s feet and calling him “the anointed one” – that was the fans. Unlike you, I don’t think there’s a massive conspiracy to kamikaze the team’s young players.

          Honestly, I could care less about how much better Teravainen is at this point than Jankowski. The sporting world is full of anecdotal evidence about a management team’s inability to notice skill at the draft, and hell, even within their own player pool (see the San Diego Charger’s handling of Drew Brees). Even if Tervainen ends up better than Janko in the long run, I don’t care – perhaps Nick Ebert (the last player taken) ends up better than both of them, does that mean we tar and feather all the NHL GMs seven times for not picking him earlier?

          As a brief aside; tweets about a player’s dangles don’t make that player – I hear there are thousands of tweets every minute that prove Justin Bieber is the most beautiful “man” in the world and that Obama is a socialist.

  • Michael

    Rookies in general tend to have consistency issues at the NHL level, they have good and bad games, make mistakes, start to take the NHL and any success for granted. Sven is currently going through one of these periods, it is part of the learning cycle of what it takes to earn a regular NHL spot.

    However, I do think the hype around Sven was ‘over hyped’. I honestly see him developing into more of a second line winger, not the first liner or future star that I keep hearing about. If Sven can develop into a solid consistent second liner its still a win for the Flames.