TROY, NY — When the Albany Devils took the ice Sunday afternoon to face the Binghamton Senators, defenseman Seth Helgeson did so for the first time in his professional career with the alternate captain’s A on his chest. While the third-year blueliner has grown as a player and a leader with the Devils, this was not something he was expecting.
“I was a pleasant surprise,” Helgeson said. “I didn’t know about it until I got to the game. It’s nice to know that I have faith from the coaching staff and the guys on the team that they can trust me to be in that type of role.”
For Helgeson, who wore the “A” in his senior season at the University of Minnesota, describes his leadership style as less vocal and more leading by example.
“I think we have enough guys in the room that communicate as leaders, “Helgeson added. “I think the way I need to show my leadership is to just go out there and lead by example.
“I don’t think that as a player or as a person I have to change what I’m doing. I’ve just got to be the same guy going out there every night.”
That consistency is one of the main reasons Head Coach Rick Kowalsky chose Helgeson for the role.
“Just the energy he brings every day in practice, that’s probably the biggest reason,” Kowalsky said. “Ever since he came in as a rookie, he’s a guy that practices hard. He’s a guy that’s respected in the room because of the way he plays.”
For Helgeson, who played 22 games with New Jersey last year, getting a chance to play at the NHL level helped him continue his maturation as a player.
“I think being called up and learning from the guys up there and bringing it down here has definitely done wonders for my confidence and helped me as a player in the long run.”
Kowalsky echoed those sentiments and saw a new player when Helgeson returned from New Jersey.
“They mature a bit, you can see it in them as far as how they act when they come down,” Kowalsky said. “It’s just another level of focus and preparation that you try and emulate down here, but sometimes it registers a little more when you see top players at the highest level in the world doing it.”
With the surplus of veterans on the roster, there were numerous options for Kowalsky when deciding who to give the “A” to.
“I could easily have put it on O’Brien or Gragnani, who have been good and been leaders before, but I thought this was an opportunity to put it on somebody new.”
And as for Helgeson?
“He’s a good kid. He’s a character kid, and he’s right where he needs to be as far as development is concerned. And with his attitude and his work ethic, he’s going to continue to get better.”