MSU hockey head coach Tom Anastos said there’s a “5-foot-8-and-a-half hole” in the MSU hockey dressing room right now.
That hole is one left by former MSU defenseman, Hobey Baker finalist, CCHA Player of the Year, All-American, two-time captain Torey Krug — a player many Spartans classify as a special leader.
“He was not only a talent leader on our team, he was an emotion leader,” Anastos said. “He brought emotion into our team. He was a guy who was able to go out and make a hit in practice and it would change the complexion of practice. He’d come and make a hard pass that would knock a guy’s stick out of his hands, or make a play (and) go to the net, and guys would see that and react to it.”
Anastos said he is going to go through an interview process with players to figure out who the next captain squad will be — asking his team who they think has risen as a leader. He said he might not name captains until after Monday’s game against Windsor at 7:05 p.m.
“I think expectations are going to be higher this year for some than they were last year,” Anastos said.
“The goal at the end of the day is to push all the buttons so we can get maximum performance from each of the 27 players that we have.”
When asked which returning players stood out to him, Anastos noted the abilities of senior forwards Anthony Hayes and Chris Forfar and junior forward Greg Wolfe. Hayes also is the only returning captain, serving as an assistant with former MSU hockey player Trevor Nill under head captain Krug.
Anastos added a surprising player who has emerged as an excellent example for his teammates is senior defenseman Matt Grassi — a player whose leadership has been noticed by multiple teammates as well.
Hayes said he feels confident with the senior class he has alongside him, calling them a “support system.”
“You look at Chris Forfar and Matt Grassi, those are two guys whom, in 20 years, I’d trust my kids with,” he said. “Losing Torey Krug, that’s a huge hole, but when you look at the people we have who can pick up slack, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.”
Freshman forward David Bondra came in without getting to play under Krug, but he, like Anastos, noted Grassi, Forfar and Hayes are the definite leaders on the ice.
For Hayes, serving as a leader is more than a responsibility for him — it’s something he said he truly enjoys.
“I like when people know they can lean on me,” he said.