For the first time in his professional career, Chicago Wolves defenseman Taylor Chorney is sporting a “C’ on his sweater but won’t let it change his attitude.
For nearly three months, Chicago Wolves head coach John Anderson left his team without a captain. The move surprised some of the team’s most ardent followers, but Anderson had a plan.
“We talked about the captaincy for some time,” he said. “It was important we give it some time though because we wanted to see leaders emerge. We wanted to see how players jelled.”
In mid-December, Anderson polled Wolves players for their picks on captain and alternate captains. The names he got back mirrored the ones he and assistant captains Dave Allison and Scott Allen had in mind already, which made the selection process all the easier. On Dec. 17 he took defenseman Taylor Chorney aside after practice and told him he had been elected team captain.
“I was so excited when I found out,” Chorney said. “It’s a big honor to know all my teammates and coaches trust me with this and have that respect for me. After we did the vote, I think Coach Anderson had the final say, so it was kind of a collective thing.”
Throughout his career, the 26-year-old Chorney has been named an alternative captain a few times (including this season for the Wolves), but this is the first time he has carried the leadership load. Despite the uncharted territory, the Thunder Bay, Ontario native has no plans to alter the way he handles himself.
“The way I see it, the decision was made based on what has happened so far,” he said. “There’s not much I need to change in terms of my leadership style. I’m not going to start yelling and screaming at guys. I’m going to show up every day and do my job and hopefully the guys will follow. I can be loud when I need to, but we have plenty of guys who are rah-rah types but I just have to keep playing my game, so to speak, and just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
“I like that Chorney hasn’t changed,” Anderson said. “He’s still the same guy. When you get something like (the captaincy), it can go to your head but he’s just the same and keeps doing the things that we liked so much about him from the start.”
While Chorney may be maintaining the status quo, the Wolves are focused on doing the opposite. After getting off to a slow start in October, the circus road trip in early November gave the guys a spark they’ve worked on kindling ever since.
“I think it’s finally coming, the chemistry,” Chorney said. “We didn’t get off to the best start but all of us have picked it up. There are so many new faces and new coaches and things like that which take more time (to come together) than people realize. You’re working with new linemates and everyone has been showing really strong flashes of what they can do and now it’s just a matter of putting it all together. We need to play the best hockey we can every night.”
Chorney, who played in the National Hockey League with the Edmonton Oilers (who drafted him 36th overall in the 2005 entry draft) and St. Louis Blues, has seen plenty of ups and downs along his way to the Wolves. But when reflecting on what it means to be the leader of a team for the first time in his professional career, his happiness can hardly be contained.
“It’s just cool,” he said. “I’ve never been a captain in pro hockey. I’ve been an assistant a couple of times. We have a lot of qualified candidates on this team. There’s definitely other guys who could be doing the same thing and that just makes it even more special and I really appreciate them choosing me and giving me this opportunity.”