April 18, 2008
Mitera named 2008-09 hockey captain
Michigan defenseman Mark Mitera was named the hockey team's captain for 2008-09, head coach Red Berenson announced Friday. An alternate captain this past season, Mitera averaged a team-high 24 minutes per game and finished +30
"It's definitely a big honor," Mitera said. "Coach is looking to me to lead the team next year and I'm excited for it. I'm going to embrace it as best as I can, and hopefully do a good job following in [Kevin] Porter's footsteps."
A 2006 NHL first-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, Mitera promised Berenson he would return for his senior season. The Wolverines have never lost a captain to the pros but lost alternate Andrew Cogliano last summer and alternates Jeff Tambellini and Al Montoya in 2005.
"I told Mark, I need to know what you're plans are, when you're going to make your decision [on coming back]," Berenson said. "He said he had already made a decision so then I told him I'm ready to make a decision - 'We'd like to name you the captain.'
"It's good timing for Mark. It doesn't drag him through the summer. It's good timing for our team to go into the spring term knowing who their captain is, knowing that Mark's not only coming back but he's going to have a big role as our captain. I think it's all positive."
Mitera, who said he has talked to teammates Chris Summers and Max Pacioretty about returning for their junior and sophomore seasons, respectively, didn't think the decision was hard. He might have been nervous if the Ducks had not been so understanding.
"I've already spoken to Anaheim a little bit and they know where I'm coming from -- that I want to come back and finish school," he said. "Ultimately, it's my decision. They've been patient with me. They drafted me for a reason and I don't think they're going to give that up for one more year of college."
Though not overtly vocal, Mitera can be loud when he needs to be. He, like Porter, typically allows his attitude and play on the ice to lead by example, however.
"I think we both have the same work ethic, intensity in practices and games," said Mitera, comparing himself to Porter. "He also had that dynamic to him that he's a goal scorer where I'm a goal preventer. It can go both ways. You can have a good captain that is a stay-at-home defenseman and there is pride in keeping pucks out of the net. That will be my goal for next year - more team defense and there will be forwards that lead the forwards."
Berenson also said he spoke to Summers, a defenseman drafted in the first round in 2007 (Phoenix Coyotes), and Pacioretty, a forward taken last summer by the Montreal Canadians with the No. 22 overall pick, and believes they will both return to U-M next season.
Berenson will wait out the summer, though, before naming alternates in case of a departure. He doesn't want to put an 'A' on a jersey only to see that skater exit, like Cogliano, Tambellini and Montoya.
"When they go through spring term, there will be some leaders that evolve possibly and some players that might not," Berenson said. "I think waiting until the fall will be the right thing to do. Plus, it puts the onus on Mitera right off the bat. He's the captain, he'll be the voice of leadership on our team."
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