Barry Trotz, the head coach of the Predators, made a fascinating observation on Monday.
“If you change one player, it changes the whole chemistry on your team,” he said.
Jamal Mayers has done that for the Blackhawks this year.
He’s anchored a fast and physical fourth line, while adding seasoned leadership in the room.
You can see the impact in the third period. The Blackhawks have outscored opponents 15-6 in the final frame. And when they’ve trailed after two periods, they are 2-2-1.
Mayers, along with Jonathan Toews, have been influential voices during a 7-2-2 October.
“I’ve been very fortunate playing with some great leaders: Scott Mellanby, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, Pierre Turgeon (and) Geoff Courtnall,” he said. “I encourage young guys as well. If you have something to say, don’t sit on your hands. Say it. If you care about the team first, then nothing you say is wrong; you’re just trying to help.
“(Being able to lead) is all dictated by how you play. Nothing you say holds weight unless you’re doing it yourself. The only way we’re going to get better is if we push ourselves. We have to have thick skin. But at the end of the day, our goal is all the same and whatever we have to do to get there that’s what we’re willing to do.”