The Rochester Americans were looking for a leader who could fill the role of captain as the organization embarked on its 57th season in the American Hockey League.
The captaincy, in an organization with such a rich history, is an elite club filled with talented alumni. The early days of the Amerks saw hockey legend Don Cherry captain the team, while Hockey Hall of Famer Al Arbour, who went on to win four Stanley Cups as coach of the New York Islanders, also wore the “C” for Rochester. Jody Gage, the Amerks all-time scoring leader, was also a team captain for a few seasons during his illustrious career, which earned him a spot in the AHL’s inaugural Hall of Fame class.
Now, the Amerks have placed the honor on a newcomer to the organization, center Kevin Porter.
“Being the captain of any team is a huge honor,” said Porter, “especially this team, which has a lot of great players and great history.”
Porter, who is a native of Detroit, was drafted in the fourth round of the NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004. He began playing for the University of Michigan Wolverines as a freshman in 2004-05, and his point total increased every season at Michigan, culminating in a memorable senior year.
Porter scored 33 goals and notched 30 assists for 63 points to lead the nation in scoring and guide the team to an appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four. He also added his name to two illustrious lists of athletes. First, he was named the University of Michigan’s Male Athlete of the Year, an award previously won by Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin (1985), current San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh (1987), former NBA star Glen Rice (1989), and Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard (1992) and Charles Woodson (1998).
He also won the prestigious Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey, edging out current Buffalo Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe for the award. Past winners of the Hobey Baker Award include former Amerks Ryan Miller (2001, Michigan State), Brian Holzinger (1995, Bowling Green) and Robb Stauber (1988, Minnesota).
Amerks Head Coach Ron Rolston noted that Porter, a newcomer to the organization, made an early impression on not only the coaching staff, but his teammates as well during training camp this year.
“He works hard and there’s a lot of experience from other organizations that he brings us,” said Rolston. “He was selected because of that experience and the fact he has already come in and got a lot of respect from his teammates.”
With that experience from other organizations, including the Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche, Porter has had the opportunity to learn from captains of other NHL teams.
“In my pro career, definitely Shane Doan and Adam Foote, those are two of the best leaders in the game,” Porter said. “I learned a lot from them, staying focused, getting the guys ready and being a leader both on and off the ice.”
Porter is serving as a team captain for the first time since his senior year at Michigan, and believes that experience will help him be the leader that this young and talented Amerks team will look up to throughout the season.
“It’s a pretty similar situation (to that season). We had a lot of freshmen and young kids, similar to the young players we have in this room,” he said. “That experience will help me get these guys ready to play night in and night out.”
With the 2012-13 season underway, it is now Porter’s turn now to lead his team and carry on the legacy as a member of the elite club of Amerks captains.