Now 28, the New York Rangers outfielder had his parents remove this notebook from his childhood bedroom at his home in Rochester, Michigan in early August. He had to double check if one of the goals he remembered writing came true.
“They found it,” Troumba said, “and inside was ‘Become an NHL captain.’ “
The Rangers named Troumba their 28th captain on August 9. It’s a title Trumpa has been working toward since he arrived in New York more than four years ago, a move and a city that has allowed him to blossom into a powerful and respected leader.
“There’s just a lot of things you don’t see,” Rangers center Mika Zibanejad he said. “It’s the way he carries himself, it’s very natural. He took care of a lot of things last year. The way he played obviously, the things he said in the locker room, the things he was dealing with. A lot of people don’t know if you’re not in the locker room , they just make sure everyone’s on the same page whether it’s a meeting, a dinner, a team gathering. I think it was honestly a natural fit.”
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Trouba begins his first season as captain when the Rangers open the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN1, TVAS).
How he got to this point is a study in personal growth, how putting himself out there to learn from others allowed him to grow into a leader.
Trouba made his NHL debut at age 19 with the Winnipeg Jets in 2013-14. Tall, lean and loaded with power and potential, he had 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in his rookie season.
He was young, getting his feet wet, oblivious.
“A lot has changed in my life in 10 years,” Troumba said. “I was talking to my wife [Kelly] when I would meet someone and they would say, “Remember six years ago, you wouldn’t even call the dentist to make an appointment, I had to do that for you.” ”
Trouba played six seasons in Winnipeg and had success on and off the ice. He grew up a bit, became an NHL veteran and began to understand some of the nuances of leadership.
But it wasn’t until Trouba was acquired by the Rangers in a trade with the Jets on June 17, 2019, that his interest in leadership grew.
New York had already gone an entire season without a captain after trading a defenseman Ryan McDonough at Tampa Bay Lightning on February 26, 2018.
“There was a leadership void, they hadn’t had a captain for a long time and I thought it was a role I could fill,” Trouba said of his mindset when he arrived at Rangers, “something I wanted to get better at and I thought I had to get better. So it’s something I’ve focused on in the last three or four years.”
Trumpa began studying leadership by coming out of his shell and opening himself up to the knowledge and experience of others.
“I spoke to some ex-players, businessmen, CEOs,” he said, “but also some people who are floor managers who are not really at the top of the chain, but how they handle the relationship with their bosses, what works for them, how they motivate their vendors?
“Everything is a little different. You get bits and pieces and how it all translates to sports and hockey.”
Video: New York Rangers look to build on last season
Trouba visited a mortgage company in Michigan and learned that its CEO never holds meetings on Thursdays, instead using that day to walk around and talk to employees, check in on them, ask if they have questions or ideas for improvements.
He got his master class in leadership this offseason by dining with Peter Cuneo, the former chairman, CEO and vice chairman of Marvel Entertainment Inc., who was hired in 1999 to turn the company around after it emerged from bankruptcy.
Recognized by Forbes magazine and Business Insider as one of the best CEOs in America, Cuneo started Marvel Studios and began building the entertainment behemoth it is today.
He left Marvel after selling it to the Walt Disney Company for $4 billion in 2009.
Cuneo, who also has renewals at Clairol, Black & Decker and Remington, gives talks around the world on what he calls the 32 Essentials of Recovery Leadership.
He is close friends with MSG Network broadcaster Joe Micheletti, who arranged the meeting.
“Jacob called me and said, ‘Can we go to dinner?’ ” said Cuneo. “He said. “We can’t do all 32,” and I said that’s not all true, but if you’re talking about yourself as a leader on the ice and maybe more importantly in the locker room or on a road trip, on the plane, on the bus, at dinner, we could let’s talk about some that I think are true.”
Cuneo told Trouba leaders to generate positive energy from day one, be honest and admit mistakes, communicate consistent messages, listen even if they know the answer, avoid preconceptions, always be accessible , to learn from past problems, but never to dwell on them, never to think. they’ve seen it all and have people around them who will tell them the truth about their performance.
They also discussed how leaders never panic, that they work on their failures and forget their successes, how egos can’t get in the way, and why finding time to escape to a hobby or family life fuels the energy needed to he is a quality leader.
Cuneo said he told Trouba stories from his career in the Navy and as a business professional related to all of those qualities. He tried to relate many of the fundamentals of leadership to Trouba’s role on an NHL team.
“I told him you have to be an actor sometimes,” Cuneo said. “You have a bad time, the guys are all down, you go into the locker room, you have to get up. Whatever it takes, you have to be up.”
Cuneo also said Trouba leaders have a variety of tactics at their disposal to lead.
“Figure out who you can manage with a good word and who you need to kick in the rear,” Cuneo said. “Both will become motivated if you understand how to handle them.”
If a teammate takes five minutes to chat, take your time.
“People need to feel like they can come to you and you’ll listen,” Cuneo said.
Making a mistake on the ice? Get over it.
“It creates negative energy if you overemphasize past mistakes,” Cuneo said.
Realize when you, as a leader, need a wake-up call.
“Whoever it is should be able to come to him and say, ‘Hey, Jacob, I don’t think it’s right,'” Cuneo said.
Trumpa said he got a lot out of the dinner meeting and has since come to Cuneo.
“He’s grabbed that and it’s good for him,” Cuneo said. “He’s not fully responsible for how the team is doing, but he certainly has a role.”
Trump’s challenge is to put everything he has learned into practice.
He’s already started, unloading the paper straws at the Rangers’ practice facility.
“Now we have bamboo straws,” he said with a laugh. “Nobody liked paper straws. That was my first move. We can’t go plastic, so bamboo was the alternative.”
Trouba may have made this decision unilaterally, but most of what he will do as Rangers captain will be in a team environment, discussing everything with a leadership group that includes Zibanejad, forwards Chris Kreider, Artemis Panarin, Barclay Goodrow and Vincent Trocheckand defender Adam Fox.
“The one thing I find so good about him,” Zibanejad said, “is as much as we rely on him, he relies on us to do this together.”
He said K’Andre Miller, Troupa’s defensive partner, “I think you could have 25 or 26 guys who all say Troupa was our leader last year. It’s an everyday thing for him. It’s not just ‘I got a C and now you’re going to start doing the job”. It’s right where it left off last year.”
Which is another sign of Trump’s growth.
“He was 19 when he got to Winnipeg, so I can understand why he didn’t want to talk to his dentist or know how to talk to his dentist,” former Rangers captain Dave Maloney said. “But it’s a good sign. I like to see men develop. I like to see them think differently and be more responsible as they get older. He definitely has.”
Henrik Lundqvist, the former goaltender who played with Trouba in 2019-20, said he can tell Rangers players, especially the younger ones, feel stronger knowing Trouba is on their side.
“I feel like he’s very consistent in his behavior up and down,” Lundqvist said. “He’s always mentally in a good place. It’s not like you always have to smile and be happy, but his demeanor is very consistent and that’s good for a leader.”
It’s necessary, according to Cuneo, and a big reason why Trouba achieved his goal.
“I’m glad it happened for me,” Trumpa said. “And I have to keep getting better, I have to keep growing and learning.”