By Thomas Pope, Fayetteville Observer
It doesn't take much to rip a team apart from within. It takes a lot more effort to rebuild a broken one.
Fixing a fractured team was the task given Mark DeSantis when he was hired in June as coach of the Fayetteville FireAntz hockey team. Heading into tonight's home game against Augusta, there's little doubt he's affected an extreme makeover.
The Antz are 12-1-0 - the best record in any of America's minor leagues - and atop the Southern Professional Hockey League standings.
That's a striking about-face for a team that finished last in the nine-team SPHL last season with a 19-32-5 record.
The key to the about-face? It starts with bringing the right kind of players onboard, DeSantis said.
"When you're recruiting in the summer, you're going by word of mouth and talking to each player to find out what kind of character they have. You're taking other people's advice, listening to what they have to say, and you try to get a feel for what the player is like when you talk to them," DeSantis said.
"You try to do your best in picking out the good, character guys that you want. Hopefully, when you get in camp and you pick your team for the start of the season, you've got those character guys that you wanted.
"So far, it's worked out with a 12-1 record, so there's not a lot to complain about in that locker room."