A lot has happened since Jim Hulton and the Charlottetown Islanders loaded up in 2016-2017 for a potential run at the President Cup.
On paper they had a championship caliber team.
Unfortunately the Isles underachieved during the post season and lost in disappointing fashion.
Hulton and the Islanders’ organization were confronted with the downward trend of junior hockey’s dreaded cycle.
“We have learned and benefited from wonderful people in recent years,” said Hulton
“Through trial and error, we’ve learned that skill without character usually leads to disappointment.”
“Conversely, teams defined by character usually produce results far beyond expectations,” confessed Hulton.
Culture, identity and character, that’s the Islander way.
“Like most teams, we place high priority on character, combined with skill, background checks are a vital component of our scouting system.”
Hulton and his staff have done a tremendous job building a winning culture with a foundation built on unwavering work ethic and determination.
There’s no question the Islanders are building toward something very special in the years to come.
The Isles have made some very difficult, but strategic moves to regain assets and draft picks to build toward the ultimate goal of capturing a championship.
“Trading, at any point, is a difficult task,” admitted Hulton.
“We take pride in our draft and development program, so it is very hard to move our players whom you have a vested interest in.”
The Islanders continue to impress and outwork their opponents almost on a nightly basis. Sure there have been some disappointment and some amazing players and people leave the organization via trades, but through it all Hulton and the organization have showed tremendous transparency, patience and restraint throughout the entire process.
The Islanders have drafted and developed very well over the past several years while also landing key free agents and impactful imports that fit the teams identity.
“In recent years our league has seen a philosophical switch whereby competitive teams embark upon ambitious “load ups” of older, experienced players at the cost of young players and future high draft picks.”
Hulton clearly wants no part of that trend moving forward.
“Organizationally, we strive to build a perennial contender, hoping to avoid a bottoming out and missing the playoffs.”
“Any time you take a step backwards is terribly hard on all facets of your organization.”
“Our biggest lesson from the 2016-2017 season is that character, grit and chemistry must be an evident part of your team makeup,” said Hulton.
“Adding in to many of the same type of players like “skilled players” does not automatically lead to team success.”
Obviously, the one constant over the years for the Islanders has been the play and leadership of veteran netminder Matthew Welsh.
Welsh has been nothing short of spectacular throughout his entire career with the Isles.
Anything can happen when you have Matthew Welsh patrolling the crease.
You see that’s another reason why the Islanders have been considered the “Vegas Golden Knights” of the QMJHL.
What they may not have in top end talent and skill, they sure as hell make up for it in hard work, grit, character and determination.
That’s culture, that’s identity, and that’s how you build a champion!
When are the Islanders planning on going on a championship run?
The window may be closing on winning a championship with Welsh, nevertheless, I still wouldn’t want to face them in the playoffs.
The Charlottetown Islanders are extremely committed to the process of building a champion while not deviating from their cultural framework and identity.
“We still firmly believe that championship teams must primarily be constructed via draft and development,” stressed Hulton.
“A few key, elite acquisitions at deadline time can push a group over the top.”
Culture and character that’s the Charlottetown Islanders formula for success.