REGINA — Some players wear the ‘C’ and others become captains.
Brandon Davidson understands the difference, knowing full well that the Regina Pats need more than a guy with a letter on his jersey. They need a captain who graciously accepts the badge of honour, embracing the privileges of the title as well as the burden that goes with it.
“I’ve always wanted that,” offered the 20-year-old defenceman. “I knew it wasn’t given to an individual, it’s earned. I feel privileged and honoured, but there is that responsibility being captain. I think I have the (right) qualities as a person and that translates into hockey as well. You have to be a character person. Some people have it, some people don’t.”
Since his arrival two years ago, Davidson has often expressed his desire to be a leader for the Pats. With maturity, he came to understand that it’s about more than just words, it’s about actions and hard work.
“My leadership throughout the years has improved and now it’s kind of getting noticed,” said Davidson, regarded as one of the WHL’s top all-around defencemen. “The main thing for me is the respect I’ve earned from the players, not just from this team but throughout the league as well. I’m the kind of captain who’s going to lead by example and, when there’s tough patches throughout the year, I’m the guy who’s going to pick the guys heads up and (tell them) to climb on my back.”
Davidson has his own way of lifting a team, one that doesn’t involve screaming and yelling.
“I’m very positive,” said the laid-back veteran, who’s backed by alternate captains Jordan Weal, Artem Bidlevskii and Brandon Underwood. “The leadership group that we have in our room, everybody is pretty well known to pick somebody up when they’re down and give them a boot in the ass if they need it. I never get down on anybody. I never single anybody out. But guys have to be held accountable. Sometimes people have to be told when they’re screwing up or they’re not doing things properly. I’ll let guys know.”
That’s what head coach Pat Conacher had in mind when he awarded the ‘C’ to Davidson. It’s a decision that wasn’t made lightly and didn’t happen overnight, a product of detailed observation as well as a background check through various connections in the hockey world.
“I made calls on him,” said Conacher. “I know the background of the kid, how hard he has worked to become a player. People spoke about what he is (as a person) and what he brings to the rink as a player. That spoke volumes to me. I saw how he interacted with the guys around the room, the way he carried himself, the attitude he had. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, you can’t carry it on.”
Davidson has remained on course, even while coping with the disappointment of being cut by the Edmonton Oilers.
“It doesn’t discourage a person, it just makes you work a little harder,” he said. “Edmonton obviously thinks I need another year, which is probably right. Coming back here is great for me. It’s a huge year for myself and for this team. On a personal level, I do want to go out there and prove some things. Being the captain of the team, it’s a huge step for me and it’s a learning experience because I’ve never done it before. I’ve learned from previous captains but I’m trying to make it my own.”
Along with putting his stamp on the captaincy, Davidson wants nothing more than to help the Pats punch their ticket to the playoffs.
“The last couple years leave a bitter taste in your mouth,” he added. “I want everything for this team and I want everything for the players on this team. I’m going to do everything I can to help the next guy and he’s going to do everything he can to help me. I need 20-some other players as much as they need me. It’s a win-win for everybody if we can do something special this year.”