Ford Ready to Captain Admirals' Ship
Oct 20, 2011
By Jason Karnosky
When it comes to American Hockey League rosters, few constants exist.
Players frequently move in one direction or another, attempting to advance their careers to the next stage and earn a coveted shot at playing in the National Hockey League. Therefore, stability for an AHL franchise is always at a premium.
Few players personify that quality better than Milwaukee defenseman Scott Ford. That is just one of many reasons why first-year Admirals coach Kirk Muller named the veteran as his team’s captain for the 2011-2012 season.
“Scott’s a real professional who is dedicated to the game,” Muller said. “He exemplifies what we are looking for on and off the ice, and our guys can really learn every day from the way he handles himself as an athlete.”
It would be easy to state that Ford was the safe choice for Muller. For the past three years, Ford served as an assistant captain with the Admirals and after the Nashville Predators moved on without last year’s leader Brett Palin during the offseason, someone needed to fill the void.
However, that brand of thinking would dismiss everything Ford brings to the table for Milwaukee. In his three years with the Admirals, no player was more dependable than the Fort St. John, British Columbia native. Dressing in an average of 68 games per season with Milwaukee, Ford finished in team’s top-five in plus/minus twice.
“It’s a huge honor to be named captain of a team coached by one of the NHL’s great leaders—Kirk Muller,” Ford said. “We’ve had some great teams during my time here and hopefully we can have other big year this year in Milwaukee.”
At 31-years-old Ford is oldest skater on Milwaukee and the only Admiral born in the 1970s (December 24, 1979). Yet Ford continues to improve as player. In his first four professional seasons, Ford was a fringe AHLer, skating in just 47 league games with Cleveland, Bridgeport and Providence, while spending the majority of his time in the ECHL.
After catching on fulltime with the AHL’s Sound Tigers in 2007-2008, Ford only continued to mature. In his first year in the Brew City (2008-2009) Ford racked up his best offensive numbers, scoring four goals and 10 points in 63 games.
Last year marked Ford’s best campaign as a professional. Skating in all 80 regular season games, Ford chipped in two goals and seven points, but more importantly finished the season as a plus-10 player, the highest mark of his career.
“I always try to provide some offensive numbers, (though) that’s not the role I’ve been put in during my time with this organization,” Ford said. “I’m always ready to contribute when called upon.”
Few players excel at the role of being a defensive defenseman better than Ford, providing own-zone insurance for some of Milwaukee’s most gifted blue liners, including offensive talents such as Jonathon Blum, Roman Josi, Alexander Sulzer and Robert Dietrich.
“I’m usually paired alongside left-handers who are high octane offensively, therefore it’s my responsibility to take care of our own end and have (the back of) our more skilled guys,” Ford said.
And no one stands up for his teammates more than Ford. Last season Ford racked up 164 minutes in penalties defending his team’s honor, the most of any Admiral. It was Ford’s second year with Milwaukee where he totaled more than 100 penalty minutes in a season.
Teammates like Ryan Thang always appreciate Ford’s ability to make their lives a little bit easier.
“Scott’s really a great guy on and off the ice,” said Thang, who like Ford was one of only eight returning Admirals this season. “He always has a level headed presence, but is always chatting and helping to calm the nerves of some our younger guys.”
Ford’s leadership reputation dates back to his days as a four-year standout at Brown University. In his first year with the Bears (2000-2001), Brown finished last in the ECAC, managing just four wins. But by the time Ford became an upperclassman, the Bears had turned things around, winning 16 games in 2002-2003.
Ford was an assistant captain on Brown’s 2002-2003 squad, and then guided the Bears to 15-11-5 campaign while wearing the “C” as a senior. Brown’s 2003-2004 winning percentage (56.5%) still stands as the school’s best since its last NCAA tournament appearance back in 1992-1993.
“College was really a growing process for me both in my development as a hockey player and as a person,” Ford said. “I started playing right away as a freshman, logging a ton of minutes and skating in every situation. Meanwhile, I was thrown in the deep end living far away from home and having to effectively manage my time with school.”
So far with Ford as captain Milwaukee has yet to lose, going a perfect 3-0-0-0 in the team’s first three games. Muller knows that Ford’s leadership has played a large part in that fast start.
“We have a lot of players coming up to this level for the first time,” Muller said. “As coaches it really helps to have players like Scott who do things right every day in practice and can be an example to follow for the young guys.”
Ford hopes that being the shoulder his team leans on will finally facilitate an NHL promotion.
“I relish the opportunity to be a part of the development process of our young guys,” Ford said. “But at the same time I’m still striving to improve, move on to the next level and play in the National Hockey League.”