Miles Gendron wore the C for the UConn men’s hockey team for the 2018-19 season. Though the Huskies went 12-20-2 and weren’t in playoff contention, Gendron’s leadership was crucial for the rookie year of a team chock full of freshman talent.
“What they [Gendron, Karl El-Mir and Max Kalter] did this year that I was impressed with was how they brought this group along,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said, “It’s very easy in a season that isn't going your way, especially when you have 12 younger guys, it can go sideways and be a train wreck. What they did to keep this group competitive the last month of the season, for us to finish 5-3, I can’t say enough about their leadership with this group.”
Jonny Evans, Ruslan Iskhakov, Tomas Vomacka and Jachym Kondelik were four of UConn’s most impactful players this season, and they were all freshman. Carter Turnbull, Corson Green, Kale Howarth and Roman Kinal all saw a lot of playing time for freshmen as well. When asked if Gendron sees himself in one of the players and tries to spend extra time mentoring them, he mentioned Kinal.
“I sit next to Roman in the locker room,” Gendron said. “I work a lot with him, he’ll bounce ideas off of me and I’ll bounce some off of him. He’s a really good player for a freshman, he’s much better than I was as a freshman.”
The Huskies have an abundance of players that are really good players for their age and experience level. One could compare them to Gendron’s favorite NBA team, the Boston Celtics. One thing that sets the Celtics and Huskies apart is the leadership.
“I think they [Celtics] have some locker room things to work out. I don’t know how much Kyrie [Irving] fits in that locker room. He’s awesome to watch, he’s a great player, but some of his comments make you wonder if he’s the right fit in Boston. I wonder how much he gets along with the rest of the guys,” Gendron said.
It’s never been a doubt whether Gendron was the right fit as UConn’s captain. Gendron leads in the two ways that a captain should lead his team, both vocally and by example. Coach Cavanaugh will typically begin a postgame press conference with, “Before the game, Miles challenged the guys in the locker room to…” and continue with whatever area Gendron thought the team had to focus on that night.
“There’s times where I feel like something needs to be said before the game, and there’s other games where we’ve had a great week of practice and I believe in the guys,” Gendron said.
Being a great communicator is something that Gendron prides himself on. After all, communication is what he is studying. Gendron said that even before he wore the C, he was a vocal locker room guy.
“I’ve always been a vocal guy in the locker room, but this year has been different with guys asking questions and coming to me for advice,” Gendron said.
While he is a strong vocal leader, Gendron also sets a prime example of how to be a great teammate out on the ice. “I won’t let the guys go into the fray by themselves,” Gendron said. When the going gets tough, Gendron always has his teammates’ backs.
“I play with a lot of passion because it means so much to me,” Gendron continued. “If you can assert yourself as a presence and let the other team know they’re in for a long night, the more successful you’re going to be.”
Perhaps above all other things that make Gendron the perfect captain for this team, he definitely bleeds blue. Gendron didn’t just come here to play hockey for himself and try to make himself look good for the the team that drafted him, the Ottawa Senators. Gendron truly cares about UConn, his teammates, coaches and of course, the Ice Bus.
“It means so much for me to play for UConn. Everytime I put on the jersey, it means something so special to me. Coach Cavanaugh went out on a limb to bring me here, he recruited me before a lot of other schools were willing to take the chance on me. I feel great pride and responsibility to help him because he helped me so much,” Gendron said.
With his last game with UConn behind him, one would think Gendron is done with UConn hockey. But in his mind, once a Husky, always a Husky. He has high hopes for the group of players he helped bring along this season.
“Just to watch this group grow and mature over the course of this year, this team is going to be a powerhouse next year. I think UMass finished ninth last year, now they win the league [Hockey East], I can see a similar thing happening with this group, they’re all just so good.”
Next for Gendron is the pros. He was drafted by the Senators, which hail from Ottawa, the very same province of Ontario where Gendron was born.
“Hopefully pro hockey is next,” Gendron said. “It’s a new chapter and it’s going to be fun and exciting.”
The Ice Bus will be with you every step of the way, Miles.
Sean Janos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.