Monsters Taking Lead from the Captain this Season
In sports, success for teams typically starts at the top. For the Monsters this season, early indications from players and coaches show the team’s full confidence in who’s occupying that spot
The Cleveland Monsters went the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign without naming a team captain; however, upon entering training camp this season there was no shortage of options when it came to filling that role and according to the Monsters’ coaching staff, it quickly became clear who the leader of this team was. Enter Monsters center Nathan Gerbe.
It was a busy 2017-18 season for Gerbe as he started the year in Switzerland playing with Geneve-Servette HC before signing a one-year, two-way deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets in January. The veteran 5’5” forward was assigned to Cleveland where he posted 4-14-18, 18 penalty minutes, and a -11 rating in 24 games with the Monsters.
This year, Gerbe started the season in Cleveland, and while he’s happy to have the stability, he says it doesn’t change the way he prepares for a season.
“It’s nice,” said Gerbe. “It’s good to get to know the guys but for me it doesn’t change [anything]. I come in with the same approach and want to be the best I can be every day, help out whoever I can, and do my part to help the team win.”
After signing a new two-year, two-way NHL/AHL contract in March, Gerbe is looking forward to helping develop younger players on the roster. He’s hoping to do that by demonstrating the work ethic and leadership traits that helped bring him to success throughout his career.
“I take a lot of pride in [my work ethic],” added Gerbe. “I take a lot of pride in it in my daily life. My wife, my family, my kids, nutrition, or the physical work in the gym. I take pride in every moment of that. I’m always there to help and push people along the way and I want to see everybody succeed. I’ve gotten the chance to play in a lot of NHL games and I would love to see everybody [here] get their chance to do that, but it starts with your habits and I am always willing to help or just teach by example.”
The 12th-year pro says the chance to participate in an NHL Training Camp, as the Monsters did with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, presents an incredible learning opportunity for younger players. For Gerbe, however, camp is all about honing his craft.
“I think it’s huge [because] for a lot of these guys it’s their first, second, or maybe third camp,” explained Gerbe. “You can learn so much and even for myself at my age I try to learn as much as I can. Once you stop learning or trying to evolve your game then that’s probably it for you. So again, for me, I am still trying to learn, still trying to see things, still trying to look at what I can do better and focus on that.”
Head coach John Madden has been impressed with Gerbe and the entire veteran group so far this season.
“It’s great [having Nathan here],” said Madden. “It’s one thing that we missed last year when Gerbe was hurt – he came in late as well. [Mark] Letestu is great, [Zac] Dalpe is a big leader, [Tommy] Cross is a leader, and [Dillon] Simpson. We have a lot of guys in the room, so the message doesn’t always have to come from me and they can relay it to the other players clearly.”
It’s been a positive start to the season for the Monsters and the Oxford, Mich., native was excited to discuss how he envisions the team’s play throughout the duration of the season.
“We want to set our standards high,” explained Gerbe. “We want to be high-paced, high-paced in everything we do.”