Leadership isn’t about age. It’s about responsibilities, it’s about who you are, and showing your personality. He’s not even close to his prime yet and he’s showing unbelievable poise and great maturity. This guy knows he can be the difference and he wants to be the difference. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- Don’t look now, but Sean Monahan -- the same calm, cool, and collected teenager who showed up to Calgary Flames camp in the fall of 2013 -- is only an offseason away from entering his fourth season in the National Hockey League.
The same precocious youngster who has done nothing but impress since becoming the first junior-eligible player to earn a full-time spot with the Flames since Kevin LaVallee in 1980.
The same kid who pieced together a 22-goal rookie campaign to finish with the most by a Flames freshman since Jarome Iginla netted 21 in 1996-97.
The same versatile centre who was named to the Flames leadership group despite still being days away from celebrating his 21st birthday.
“I came in at a young age and tried to stay away from the spotlight and just be a professional, and I guess people can follow that,” Monahan said.
Being bestowed with a letter was not only a rare honour for a player of Monahan’s age, but a sure sign of where the organization hopes to go and who it expects will lead them there.
“Leadership isn’t about age,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “It’s about responsibilities, it’s about who you are, and showing your personality. He’s not even close to his prime yet and he’s showing unbelievable poise and great maturity.
“This guy knows he can be the difference and he wants to be the difference.”
Or, as Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke once noted, “his teammates love him because he keeps his mouth shut and works.”
Not to mention the 6-foot-3, 195-pound forward also possesses a refined two-way game which nicely compliments a dangerous scoring touch.
In fact, no Flames skater has bulged the twine as much as Monahan over the last three seasons and no other player from the 2013 draft class has either for that matter.
In October, Monahan became the second-youngest skater in franchise history to reach the 100-point plateau before eventually finishing the season behind only the other half of Calgary’s lethal one-two punch, Johnny Gaudreau, in goals (27) and points (63).
Overall, the former Ottawa 67’s captain has put up 20-plus goals in each of his first three seasons in the NHL, and has reached the 60-point benchmark in back-to-back years.
But being more about just numbers, his bench boss has been taken aback by his young leader’s approach to the game.
“He’s approaching 35, I think,” joked Hartley. “He’s approaching 35 with 21-year-old legs. He’s a treat to coach. You teach him once and it’s in the computer, it’s in the books. He’s probably one of the smartest young players that I’ve ever coached.”
High praise indeed.
However, the “team-first” Monahan would be willing to trade any of his personal achievements for another crack at the playoffs.
“It burns a lot,” said Monahan, who led all Flames with 34 points following the NHL All-Star break. “Obviously, we have quite a few young guys on the team and winning last year with the guys that were here, it was pretty special.
“But this,” he added, “is definitely not where we want to be and there are no excuses why we’re here. It’s not a good feeling. It stings, so I hope this feeling sticks with everybody all summer. Next year we’ve got to come in hungry.”
Spoken like a true leader.