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Oilers name Eberle and Hall as alternate captains

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers announced on Tuesday that Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will wear the ‘A’ on their chest for the 2014-15 season, as the team’s two alternate captains. Andrew Ference retains his captaincy.

Last season, the Oilers named six alternate captains to start the year, but decided to take on a more “conventional program” with two of their youngest and best players getting the honour.

“Obviously, Andrew is second-to-none in the league with his leadership and I feel Taylor and Eberle earned the full-time slots,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said.

“It’s nice, it’s an honour,” Hall said. “When you’re put in a position to lead and when there is a letter on your sweater that says so, you’ve got to put your best foot forward and know that you’re always being watched. I don’t think it changes anything for Jordan and myself. Ebs has worn a full-time captaincy before. It’s just going out, playing and keep growing as a person and a leader.”

During training camp, Eakins applauded the leadership of his young players. Hall and Eberle were among a group of players that came into training camp leading by example. Ference saw that too.

“I think with Hall and Ebs, there’s been a lot of talk about the change in atmosphere in the room and the vibe of how guys are showing up. For me, I think it has elevated professionalism this year,” Ference said. “The positivity, whether it’s for testing or early practices or whether it’s playing an exhibition game on the road, it’s just a focus or an energy around the room where there’s not really negativity, there’s not complaining, there’s not questioning why we’re doing this. It’s just a focus to just do it and those guys have been awesome.

“They came in right, even before camp started, and I think set a good vibe of being here for the right reasons. Maybe not saying quite as much as last year of wanting change and wanting to have a different year, and then just doing it. That’s great. You need your best players to be those guys to carry the flag and to set the tone. I have the years on them, but they’re the best players that need to be the leaders on the ice and win us games. They have to understand their importance as well off the ice and how guys do look up to them because they are the best guys.”

“I’ve felt that way for many years now,” Eberle said of the young players taking charge. “I think that any time you get that opportunity on the ice as far as minutes and power play time, you want to be the guy that changes the momentum and the pace of the game. You definitely realize that and definitely want to take advantage of that. With the season we had last year, you definitely want to come into this year and be the guy or be the guys that really push the team forward and do the right things on and off the ice.”

Although the trio of Ference, Eberle and Hall will be the ones wearing the letters on their jerseys, the leadership in the Oilers dressing room is open to more than just that group.

“I had conversations with (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), (Matt Hendricks) and guys that were getting moved around last year,” Eakins said. “They understand their importance to the team, we need all our players to lead.”

“I think you look at some of the teammates that we have here and it’s more of a lead by committee role,” Eberle said.

“I look at some of the names and we have like Hendricks, Nugent-Hopkins is coming into his own, Boyd Gordon and we have a lot of guys that can lead. It’s just a letter really, but it is an honour to get that.”

The Oilers will enter the season with many voices in the locker room, but the three who will wear the visible mark of leadership were chosen Tuesday.

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