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BJ Grill Wants Communication to Drive Success

By Jerome Taylor | Jul 31, 2020

The Waterdogs are still searching for their first win in team history. They have run into some problems that predictably will plague an expansion team. One of the major issues is that there is minimal familiarity amongst the whole team. The way to combat that is with good leadership.

One of the members of that leadership circle that stood out on the first day of training camp was defenseman BJ Grill. Grill was claimed by the Waterdogs off of waivers this offseason, and he hopes to use his voice and his pole to contribute to the team's success.

As a defender, Grill knows that communication is one of the most important things to creating a strong defensive presence. Grill views himself as a natural communicator.

"It's my natural position to put forth my ideas where I think that they provide value," Grill said.

His voice can be heard even on the other side of the practice field.

"His presence as a vocal leader on our defense is really, really, strong," attackman Ryan Drenner said. "You know we have pretty two distinct vocal leaders on our defense in Brodie [Merrill] and BJ. Even when we split up and the offense is down one end… you can hear both those guys barking commands the whole time, which is definitely going to help out our team."

Grill sees himself as complementing Brodie Merrill when it comes to leading the defensive unit, and considers the different voices beneficial.

"I think I just have been following the lead of Brodie, just inputting when I think we need some clarity on things that are a little grey," Grill said. "We have an all-time great in Brodie, and we all really value what he says… from that point, we circle around and input what we want and what we feel also fits in, and we create the entire philosophy in which we want to play."

That collaborative approach to leadership is vital to Grill and he sees it as the most beneficial thing to team success. 

"I think if someone has value or has a thought that can be a contribution and they withhold it. They're not giving their all to the team and then not providing the level of value that they can," Grill said.

But from those voices, there also needs to be receptive ears, and listening is something that Grill admits he is still working on.

"I'm learning sometimes I just communicate too much. I’m learning how to hear that and make sure I'm communicating the right amount and listening just as much as I'm talking," Grill said. "I have a tendency to over talk because I try to do too much… but I think other guys need to be heard as much as me. Something I need to work on is making sure that I'm communicating at the right level and not just saying things, to say things."

Grill wants his communication to translate to team success. Specifically, by creating an aggressive defense that is continuously in the opposition's hands.

That team’s success may not show in the record books, but the Waterdog’s defense has lived up to the aggressive billing and has caused the second-most turnovers (22) in the Championship Series. 

"We want to make sure that we make the offensive team score inefficient goals. So we want to make them score goals while they're fading away from the goal right inside the two-point arc," Grill said. "We want them to have a stick in their gloves every time that they shoot. That's going to be generated through how hard we slide, how frequently we slide, and also how quick we are on our recoveries."

The Waterdogs need a strong defensive performance throughout the Series to capture the crown in their inaugural season. Grill knows he is going to be a significant part of that, and so is his voice.

"I want to be regarded as one of the best team defensemen in the league, and I understand the communication point is a major way that I can contribute,” Grill said.

So far Grill has made a name for himself on the defensive end. He has shined early in pool play and leads his team in caused turnovers (4) and ground balls (7), causing people to wonder how he was on the waiver wire to begin with?

Grill's communication skills and the Waterdogs' defense will be put to the test when the team looks to overcome their 0-2 start against Chrome on Friday at 9:30 ET on NBC Sports Gold.