All of the rumours and trade speculation is over. The 2019-2020 Moncton Wildcats are ready to pounce. It’s still uncertain if the entire new look Wildcats will be ready to take the ice this weekend at the Avenir Centre. As the anticipation grows the Cats will have to address some areas to maximize the teams full potential.
Building a Winner
Ritchie Thibeau and the Wildcats brain trust have assembled arguably one of the best teams in franchise history.
It’s been a year filled with uncertainty, drama and championship aspirations.
That’s all in the past now with the exception of the enormous pressure and high expectations confronting the organization as they set their sights on claiming the President Cup and Memorial Cup.
The Search For Chemistry
It’s evitable any time you add a plethora of talented players to your group the search for chemistry becomes critical.
Chemistry is the pivot point to any team’s success. Nevertheless, how long will it take for the new look “Dream Team” Wildcats to find chemistry, build trust and excel under newly hired Head Coach Daniel Lacroix?
That’s a tough question to answer.
Only the players and coaching staff can really answer that question.
Sure, we can sit back on the periphery and critique every mistake and performance for next few games, but that’s just complete idiocy.
It will take every player in the Cats line up time to adjust, time to gain the all-important shared trust of the coach and each other.
It will take time to come together and form a championship caliber bond.
Quite simply put, you can’t fake chemistry.
It would be unfair to analyze the Moncton Wildcats performance for at least five games and realistically it might take even longer for this highly skilled group to come together and reach their full potential.
How Do You Build Trust and Chemistry?
You can talk about team building all you want, but it really works!
Nonetheless, the burning question remains how do you build trust and chemistry on the fly, on a very deep skilled team with championship aspirations?
At this stage of the game, every player understands the opportunity and fully grasps how special and dangerous this Wildcat team can be moving forward.
It’s one thing to adapt to new teammates, new team systems, but every player is starting at square one trying to grow trust and familiarity with Lacroix.
That aspect brings on an entirely new meaning to all of this, but it’s massive benefit because all the players are on the same page when it comes to getting to know their new bench boss.
How can you tell if a team is growing their chemistry and coming together?
Puck Movement: The Moncton Wildcats without question have the deepest and most skilled forward group in the QMJHL.
You will be able to see this hockey club grow each and every day through sharing the wealth. The first indication of any team that has great chemistry is puck movement.
You want to see how a team bonds and grows together look at their puck movement; it reveals team character and identity.
Some teams that have loaded up in the past, struggle with this aspect. Newly acquired players often enter the new line up having been the “go to guy” or the “trigger man” on their previous team.
They suddenly find themselves playing with new line mates, not getting the puck at the right times, or in the right places.
You see that’s where the new acquisitions usually just rely on their own unique skill set and begin to force the issue, “ie” individualistic play.
When new teammates and line mates start to develop chemistry, it’s a thing a of beauty.
The Wildcats have really moved the puck well this season, and that’s what makes this aspect relatively seamless for the Cats because they have added so many character during the trade period.
How can the coaching staff have a hand in developing chemistry?
Coaches often design a massive amount of passing drills, battle drills and game simulated reps to promote just that early on when the team is finalized.
Breaking the team up into two separate groups and creating an inner competition with tons of small incentives during the first few practices with the newly acquired players mixed amongst the teams is a great way to grow instant chemistry amongst the group.
Sticking Up For One Another: The first tell tale sign that you have a championship calibre team is character.
You need to have tons of character to have the ability to stand up for one another.
Thibeau and his staff added tons of character picking up McIsaac, Groulx, Fortier, MacLellan, Leonard and Lund-Cornish.
You see when the collective unit stands up for each other and buys in, that’s when you can see the aforementioned chemistry and bond start to grow.
It’s all about developing a team first mentality.
The coaching staff have to promote and grow that culture, by identifying and putting players in roles so they can have success.
Now don’t get me wrong the Wildcats don’t need to start a bench-clearing brawl to come together as a group.
As soon as you see a new comer being defended by a teammate or vice versa, I can guarantee you will see this group grow and reach their true potential.
It might sound far-fetched, but every player in that room understands the value and importance of going to battle for one another.
Championship chemistry can only truly be created when there’s trust, character, buy in and a team first mentality.
You will no doubt see all those aspects come together when the Wildcats start playing for each other.
The First Time
The newly formed Wildcats will be looking to come together for the first time this weekend, when they face the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and their Maritime archrivals the Cape Breton Eagles.
The Cats shouldn’t take the Drakkar lightly and that game will no doubt be very special for all five players from both teams combined that will be playing against their former team.
As of right now, it would appear every new acquired Wildcat will more than likely play.
This is where the road to the President Cup and Memorial Cup truly begins.
You might not see the chemistry or the Wildcats full potential right away, but don’t worry you soon will.