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CAPTAIN JASON ROBINSON
D. K. Williams
November 13, 2001
Graeme Townshend discussed the qualities that led him to pick defensemen Jason Robinson to wear the C on his sweater this year at the November 5 Front Line broadcast, live from Parmesan's Great Italian Buffet.
"I didn’t know Jason [Robinson] at all prior to coming here," Townshend said. "We were looking for somebody who was going to be a strong leader on the ice and a strong leader off the ice.
"[Last year's captain] Sal Manganaro made [the] suggestion to me. I knew we made the right choice a week ago when we were having a bad practice, and I was really giving it to the guys and asking them what was the problem, why aren’t we performing out here, why aren’t we executing?
"Everybody was dead silent. Then our captain spoke up, and said ‘Coach, we’re tired.’"
"And that is what I was looking for, I was looking for an answer and he gave me an answer."
"I’ve coached teams in the past, for example, last year our captain got hurt early in the season and we didn’t really have any strong leadership. I would ask a question like that and get 18 dense stares."
"This guy came forward and stuck up for his teammates and said ‘hey, this is what the problem is,’ and we took care of it. That’s what I’m looking for, someone who can take the team by the throat, so to speak, and take the reigns and lead these guys."
"Jason is that type of guy. I feel really fortunate to have a captain like him leading my hockey club and I’m sure his teammates feel the same way. So far it has been really good for the team both on and off the ice."
Arley Johnson then asked Robinson about his ability to speak up when it mattered the most, even to the coach.
"Graeme is still a little bigger than I am," the six-foot-two, 190 pound defensemen said to laughter in the restaurant, "so I watch what I say to him." For the record, Graeme is listed on hockeydb.com as six-foot-two and with a playing weight of 225 pounds. The coach may even be bigger than that by now.
"I’m not a real vocal guy, but sometimes you have to say things. Hockey is all about heart, and I try to play that way. I try to show a lot of heart on the ice."
"I think sometimes the quiet guys are, at times, the best leaders" Townshend agreed, "because if you have a guy talking all the time then it eventually becomes like listening to Charlie Brown’s mother on the telephone."
"But when Jason says something, because he doesn’t talk all the time, guys are going to listen. Obviously it is important, because Jason doesn’t say a lot. Sometimes the quiet guys are the better leaders."
"A guy like myself, I didn’t consider myself a good captain because I was always chirpin’ and hollerin’ and gettin’ into it. So, eventually, after a point in time, it just becomes ‘Oh there’s Townshend again, just shut him up.’"
"He’s done a real good job and I’ve heard him on the bench a number of times when his teammates aren’t doing what they need to be doing, he’ll tell them, in a respectful way, though. He won’t yell at them or demean them in any way whatsoever. He just tells them, and that is what they need."
"Even if he makes mistakes, he still has to correct his teammates, because he is the leader of this team. That’s important, and he’s not afraid to do that, even though he knows he makes mistakes too."
"He has got to lead, and that is what he does."
Jason then talked about the fine line between criticism and praise.
"You’ve gotta be positive. Usually when you criticize somebody, you’ve gotta leave them with a positive taste, otherwise they are gonna think twice about what your are tellin’ ‘em."
"Usually when you give ‘em something negative, like ‘you gotta work on this, but great job doing this and that."
"It is a give and take, and I make a lot of mistakes out there, it’s a game of mistakes, and I work hard, and hopefully guys can oversee the mistakes I make because they know I’m working hard doing them."