Lerg named team captain; Kennedy's future at MSU uncertain
For the first time in MSU hockey history, a goaltender has been selected team captain.
Senior Jeff Lerg will wear the “C” for the Spartans in the 2008-09 season, MSU head coach Rick Comley announced on Tuesday.
“It’s very unique and it’s a tremendous honor,” Lerg said. “The past leaders are gone and now I’ve got to step up and be a leader.”
The high stress goalies deal with on a daily basis and the rule that prevents them from leaving the crease normally discourages coaches from making them captain, Comley said.
But he felt Lerg was up to the challenge.
“He has the support of his teammates and the support of the coaches,” Comley said. “He’s earned the right to be the captain.”
Lerg was an All-American last season and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. He also was named the 2008 Michigan College Athlete of the Year.
Senior forwards Tim Kennedy and Tim Crowder, along with defenseman Brandon Gentile were named alternate captains to Lerg, as voted on by the coaches and returning Spartans.
“Wearing a State jersey is a great honor, and wearing a letter is a great honor also,” Gentile said. “I think it will make me a better player because it will help me step up and play harder.”
Although he was named an alternate captain, Kennedy’s future with the Spartans is uncertain. Comley expects the forward to complete a deal with the Buffalo Sabres in the near future.
“I can’t imagine they aren’t going to come to their senses and give him what he deserves,” Comley said. “But if he returned he might be the best player in the country.”
If Kennedy leaves, Comley will name another alternate captain.
With the loss of five seniors and Kennedy’s probable departure, along with the early departure of former Spartans Justin Abdelkader and Michael Ratchuk, the Spartans to have 10 freshmen on the roster, Comley said.
The youth on the roster will force the captains to step up and be leaders on and off the ice, Gentile said.
“It will be a good stepping stone for the program,” Gentile said. “To help get these kids (at MSU) and mold them into a way that Coach Comley and the rest of us want them to act and play.”
Despite the infusion of young collegiate players, Lerg feels the team will develop together and continue to be competitive at the national level.
“I will try to motivate guys and that’s something I’ve been doing for three years here,” Lerg said.
“All of us expect to be a great team again and try to make another run at a title.”