Since winning the Calder Cup in 2016, the Cleveland Monsters have struggled a bit. The 2016-17 season was full of new faces and missed chances. During the 2017-18 season, the Monsters were essentially the Cleveland Browns of the American Hockey League. They had all the right parts but they just couldn’t get the wins.
So, it’s no surprise when asked what their goals are for the 2018-19 season most have said “winning”.
“Well winning would be great.” – John Madden (Head Coach of the Cleveland Monsters)
“First and foremost is winning. “ – Nathan Gerbe ( Captain of the Cleveland Monsters)
Seriously, this team is tired of losing.
“Winning. We’ve had enough. Selfishly, I want to win. I think everyone does collectively too. So, I’m tired of losing.” – Zac Dalpe (Cleveland Monsters forward and alternate captain)
The real question now is how are they going to win.
It all starts with a culture change.
“We want to teach winning within the organization and teach the younger kids the little things it takes to win hockey games and be a pro.” – Nathan Gerbe (Captain of the Cleveland Monsters)
For a successful culture change to happen you have to first change your mindset.
Two season ago, the atmosphere surrounding the team was full of pressure. The Monsters wanted to get back into the playoffs and make another run for the Calder Cup. Pair that with a slew of new players and coaches trying to live up to the success of the season before, you get a stressed out team.
Last season, the air surrounding the team was crushing. Especially as the season rolled on. Even more so after their hype man, Nick Moutrey, was traded to the Ottawa Senators organization. Only a few of their 22 wins changed the mood.
This season is different though. Even after a loss the team is still rather upbeat. They are contemplative but they are not beat down.
“If you’re at the practice rink it’s just a different feel around the rink and you hear the music going. You didn’t hear that a lot last year. So, it’s a good feeling in the dressing room for sure.” – Zac Dalpe
This season they are playing to win. They are motivated, calm and ready to go. Maintaining that attitude will be key to having a successful season.
Another part of successfully changing the culture of a team is identifying all the wants and needs of the team early in the season.
“We want to be competitive. We want to make the playoffs. We want to be a team that’s hard to play against. We want a good goals against average. A good PP….. We want to be a well rounded team” – John Madden (Head Coach of the Cleveland Monsters)
As the 2018-19 season rolls on, it appears the Monsters are checking off all the boxes on their wants and needs list. For the most part, they are lively and upbeat during games regardless of the number on the scoreboard. When the opposition has the upper-hand, the Monsters battle it out until the horn sounds signifying the end of the game. They don’t let the other team’s success beat them down. Throwing in the towel is never an option for them. It doesn’t even seem to appear on their radar.
The power play was a bit disastrous in the beginning but they have begun to turn it around a bit. Some bolder moves have been made while crafting the pp unit lines. On the first unit,they roll with five forwards who are chock full of skill and finesse. The second unit has a smattering of defense and a lot of aggression. They try to wear down the opposition’s pk unit in hopes that the Monsters’ first power play unit will be able to speed around them and attack the net. Since rolling out these changes to the power play, the Monsters have been fairly effective on the ice when up a man for two minutes.
They are steadily becoming the well rounded team Coach Madden wants and needs them to be. By becoming a well-rounded team, the Monsters will be able to reach their goal of winning on a regular basis.