When forward Mason Appleton announced Thursday he was leaving the MSU hockey program for the pros, he realistically left a hole.
Appleton, now a former Spartan, was elected captain by his peers going into his junior season. Now, he's headed toward the AHL and NHL after signing with the Winnipeg Jets.
While head coach Danton Cole never coached Appleton, he said he believes by keeping a solid frame of mind, Appleton should see success.
"It's a big jump a lot of the time for guys," Cole said. "But Mason's a big strong kid, he's got a willingness to learn. As long as he goes there with that kind of mindset I think he'll be fine. The guys in the pros do a great job of teaching and hopefully he goes there with that frame of mind."
With Appleton's departure, it means the program will be looking to replace the captaincy void he left. Cole said he'll first talk to his staff, but the most probable course of action is the promote one of the three assistant captains.
"That's the most likely thing, (promoting one of three assistant captains)," Cole said. "Certainly as a staff, we'll discuss it. We have to go over it. We've got some good leadership in the room. I think we've got a good, hard-working bunch of guys."
The three assistant captains originally named are rising senior defenseman Carson Gatt, rising junior forward Brennan Sanford and rising sophomore forward Sam Saliba.
Thus far, Cole hasn't had much communication with his team, the primary form of conversing being through emails. However, he said most of the squad is back on campus now, and his staff looks to create the right environment.
"I think the biggest thing that we're looking for — especially (to) establish in this first year — is the right culture and the right mindset," Cole said. "Having guys that want to be here and that want to work. And that'll get us started."
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