Thrashers giving young players leadership roles

When Thrashers coaches gathered the team on the practice ice last week to announce team captains, Bogosian’s heard his name called.

“It was pretty cool to see the guys come up to me and show that they were happy,”  Bogosian said.

Could it be? Could a 19-year old, entering just his second season in the NHL, be given such a title, such a responsibility, such an honor?

It’s all part of the Thrashers’ plan. The team is building around a core of young players and several of those players are already being given leadership roles now. Why wait?

“We feel that we want to establish leadership right away and establish it for a long time so we don’t have to keep doing this,” Thrashers coach John Anderson said. “Those core guys we feel will be with the organization a long time.”

Ilya Kovalchuk was named captain and Slava Kozlov, Ron Hainsey, Colby Armstrong and Bogosian were named alternates.

After Kozlov, who at 37 is entering his 18th NHL season, Hainsey is 28, Kovlachuk and Armstrong are 26. Bogosian is still 10 months shy of his 20th birthday.

“We have a lot of veteran guys and it could have easily been one of them,” Armstrong said. “Finally you can see a core group of guys around here. ... I think it’s important [to have young leaders] so you can establish that early and move forward.

“Anything can happen in hockey but it’s a great thing to implement some of the young guys in as leaders because you know they are going to be part of the action here for many years.”

Leadership was an issue for the Thrashers early last season. They started out without a captain, naming instead five alternates, Kovalchuk, Kozlov and Armstrong among them. It wasn’t until more than three months into the season, on Jan. 11, that Kovalchuk was given the captain’s title. That won’t be an issue this season.

“It’s a great honor. It’s very special,” Bogosian said. “Right now, it’s kind of crazy to think about. But nothing really changes. I just have to go out every night and play my style.”

Bogosian wore the A on his jersey for Saturday’s season opener. He helped the Thrashers to a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay with a second-period goal.

“For Zach, for a young guy, he has the right attitude,” Armstrong said.  “He works hard. He’s a great athlete. He comes in in great shape. He plays both ends. He’s physical. He plays the game the way he should. For a young guy to come in here like that, even the older guys can take from that.”

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