blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: July 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Henrik Sedin Interview - 2010 NHL Awards

Last month we met with Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas to discuss winning the Art Ross and Hart trophies, off-season training, and playing poker with Luongo. These are his stories.

Q: How does it feel to beat out Crosby and Ovechkin for the scoring title and league MVP honors?
A: Yeah, it’s a real feeling. I mean they’re the two faces of the sport. It’s something that I did not think was going to happen when I’m 30 years old. I thought I could compete with them. I didn’t feel we were that much worse playing against them but they put up so many points and they’re unbelievable players.

: When you arrived yesterday did Ovechkin know who you were?
A: I think he recognized me on the red hair.

: Talk about the time it took for you to reach this level of your game.
A: We came here when we were nineteen and it wasn’t like everything went really well from day one. We came in with big expectations like Sid and Alex but it didn’t work out. We had some tough times and some struggles. We stayed strong. To work as hard as we did and then to see the results it makes it even a greater feeling.

: How do these awards compare to the Golden Puck?
A: It’s on a different level, for sure. It was a great honor to get that too. I mean it’s the biggest hockey award you can get in Sweden, so that was fun too.

: Talk about your final game of the season against Calgary where you collected four points. Did Coach Vigneault adjust the team system to allow you more opportunities to score?
A: No, not really. You can’t do that. It’s not going to work. I played a lot with Daniel and Alex (Burrows) during the last couple of games and I’m thankful for that. But at the same time, you’ve got to try and stay within the team system otherwise its going to work against you. It was a game I’m always going to remember for sure. The way the crowd treated us. It’s something I’m always going to bring with me for sure.

: Were you nervous when Crosby got five points in the first half of his final game challenging your scoring lead?
A: Yeah, I didn’t watch the game. Actually I watched Alex play. After that I got a lot of phone calls from back home. Then Danny called me halfway though the Pittsburgh game and told me that Sidney had five points. So that wasn’t good.

: What does it mean to win these awards as a career Canuck?
A: It means a lot. It’s not very often that you get drafted to a place that you like right away. We really enjoy playing there and we loved it from day one. Even though we went through some tough times early in our careers the fans have always supported us and the organization has been great and patient. They made sure the first couple of years were unbelievable. If you like the place and you think they have a good team and they have a good chance of winning, that’s where you want to be. So that’s why we re-signed.

: What did you learn about yourself playing apart from Daniel during his injury?
A: Nothing really. I think it taught maybe the media and fans a little bit but we knew we could play by ourselves. We’ve rarely been injured so we’ve played a lot of games together. This was the first time he’s been out for a long period of time. I knew the fans and media were going to start talking. And they did. So it was nice to show them that we can play apart.

: Tell us about the sleep experiment that the Canucks conducted this season.
A: They’ve put a lot of effort in to making it better for us with the traveling. We wear the sleep watches during parts of the year to see how we sleep and how we play with the sleep we’re getting. So they make some minor changes to the schedule where you stay over after a road trip for one extra night to get some better sleep. I think it helped us for sure.

: Did you notice a difference in your energy levels or your play?
A: No, you don’t really notice it yourself. But when you do the testing you can see that your energy level is way above what it otherwise would be.

: What are you going to focus on this summer to maintain or improve your game?
A: I’m going to do the same thing I’ve done for the last four or five years. We work hard. We spend a lot of time trying to get better but there’s no magic, just lots of hard work. That’s how we get confidence and that’s what we’ve done. We come back in better shape every year.

: Is there anything you do in the off-season to mentally prepare for the next year?
A: No, I don’t think so. I think mentally we’ve always been pretty strong. I mean to play in a Canadian market like we are and with the expectations we’ve had from day one, it’s something we’ve learned to live with and you have to somehow like it. For us that’s not a big problem.

: How much time will you spend on the ice this summer?
A: Not too much. I think you get enough ice during the season. I try to stay off as much as possible because I think it gives you more hunger to be on the ice when the season starts. But it’s going to be a few hours for sure.

: Do you take a break between the end of the season and the start of your summer training?
A: We usually take two weeks after the season just to get away a little bit. I get a little anxious when I’m not working out or doing anything so we started working out at the end of May. I usually leave Vancouver at the end of June and go back to Sweden for six or seven weeks.

: What’s your best time on the Grouse Grind?
A: My record is 31:15 or something.
Q: Is that a Canuck record?
A: No, Danny has the Canuck record.
Q: How much did he beat you by?
A: 35 seconds I think.

: Will you train with Forsberg and Hedman again this summer in Övik?
A: Yeah, we used to be like ten or twelve guys being there but now most of them are playing for Modo and it’s only like four or five guys left. We go there every morning and work out together. It’s great just to be back and be around those guys. Even the older guys who play for Modo, they’re there too. It’s good, it’s fun.

: Do you think Forsberg and Naslund will be back with Modo next year?
A: I don’t think Naslund’s going to be back. Peter may be. I think his foot is feeling better so we’ll see. You never know with him.

: What do you think about Modo's coaching change hiring Challe Berglund from SEL rival Timrå?
A: Yeah, its going to be interesting. He’s done a great job in Timrå. They’ve got a lot of older players on Modo and I think they’ve got a great group of guys but it’s a matter of getting the most out of them. I think he can do it so it should be interesting.

: Who’s the toughest defenceman for you to play against?
A: Duncan Keith is tough for sure. It’s not like he’s overly physical or dirty or anything but he skates really well and its tough to get in on the forecheck on him. You try to beat him once and he’s right there again. That’s what makes him tough. So I’d say Duncan Keith.

: Talk about losing in the playoffs to the Chicago Blackhawks for the second year in a row.
A: I said it all the long, they’ve got a great team. It’s not a fluke that we lost. They got some great players, good defense, and their goalie played great too. We were close but we lost to the championship team. I think we lost to a better team this year. They became hot at the right time. It made losing a little bit easier to see them win the Cup for sure.

: You saw Vancouver go crazy when Canada won the Olympic Gold. What would it be like if the Canucks won the Stanley Cup?
A: It would a hundred times worse. We’ve been there ten years now and you don’t wish anything more than to be there and to have a chance to win. That’s what you work out for in the summertime and something you dream about. It’s really tough. It’s the toughest thing I believe to win in sports. It would be fantastic. Something you dream about for sure.

: I understand you’re a bit of a poker player. Are you going to play while you’re here in Vegas?
A: I don’t know. I’m not much of a casino guy. I like to play poker with my friends and stuff. I doubt it.

: I met Luongo at the NHL Awards last year and he thought that you and Daniel cheat at poker when you play with him on the plane. Any truth to that?
A: Oh yeah, all the time. We tell each other what kind of cards we have.

: Speaking of cheating, how do we know you’re not Daniel?
A: Nah, you got no clue.

Many thanks to Henrik for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Drew Doughty Interview - 2010 NHL Awards

Last month we met with blue-chip blueliner Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas to discuss his first taste of the NHL postseason and winning Olympic Gold with Team Canada. These are his stories.

Q: Tell me about your first ever NHL playoff experience this year.
A: It was awesome. Obviously the Kings hadn’t made the playoffs in however long, so to be on a team that’s finally done it was awesome. Even though we lost to the Canucks, we competed with them. I think the series could have gone either way.

: The fans in LA went crazy in the playoffs.
A: They did. They were unbelievable. Our barn was louder than theirs. And the Vancouver fans, you know, they’re pretty crazy out there. So to have that support in LA was awesome. Hopefully they're the exact same next year.

: Is Vancouver one of your top rivals now based on that playoff series?
A: Yeah definitely. We had a pretty hard fought war with them in that playoff series and we developed kind of a hate relationship for one another. So it’s definitely going to be hard fought games everytime we play.

: Who got on your nerves the most on the Canucks?
A: I’m going to be honest, there’s about three or four of them. But Burrows is the one guy that really got on my nerves every once in a while. We battled through the games, but afterwards it was congratulatory.

: Talk about winning Olympic Gold this year.
A: That was crazy. Words can’t even really explain winning the gold medal. Growing up you always want to win a gold medal and to be able to finally do that and be with those guys that they had on that team they were just unbelievable guys. We had such a good time. And you know, that’s why we won.

: As a player, what's the difference between the NHL playoffs and the Winter Olympics?
A: To be honest, the playoffs and Winter Olympics are pretty similar in terms of the emotion and the passion. Every player knows that every game can make or break their team. It’s so hard fought. It’s great hockey.

: What’s the training plan for the summer?
A: I’ll be in LA a little bit. I’ll be back home in London a little bit as well. Back and forth. Training hard.

: Who are your trainers?
A: I train back home with Jeff Van Damme. And our trainer in LA is Tim Adams.

Many thanks to Drew for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sidney Crosby Interview - 2010 NHL Awards

Last month at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas we caught up 2010 Hart and Ted Lindsay nominee Sidney Crosby to discuss winning Olympic Gold, watching the Flyers in the Finals, relocating to a new rink, and his sojourn to Sin City. These are his stories.

Q: Describe your experience playing for Team Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
A: It was great. I mean, that's the best hockey I've ever played. That level of hockey is pretty incredible with the speed and the skill. It was a great experience.

: How did it feel to be the Stanley Cup Champions heading into the 2010 Playoffs?
A: Just like every other team. Trying to earn it back again. I didn’t feel like it was ours until Johnny (Jonathan Toews) lifted it. We were trying to chase it just like everyone else. That’s what we all want. You know, they (Chicago Blackhawks) had a great run and those guys are having their dreams come true.

: Would it have been difficult to watch your archrivals the Philadelphia Flyers hoist the Cup?
A: No, I think you kind of prepare yourself for that when you see the two teams in the Finals. One of them is going to win. I wouldn’t have had any different feeling I don’t think if Philly won. Honestly, I think when you see teams get to that point - and hopefully we’re not watching a lot of those, obviously it’s something you want to be a part of - but when you get to that point you have a pretty good appreciation for what it takes and a pretty good appreciation for how much it means to those guys. I don’t want to say that you don’t want to be there, but if anything you probably become a little bit softer a little bit more appreciative of what they’ve accomplished.

: Tell me what you learned living with Mario Lemieux?
A: There’s so many little things. When it’s your first year in the NHL you have no idea what to expect. I think the biggest thing I learned from Mario is how even-keeled he stayed. How there’s so much going on around him all the time and he always handled things and took it all in stride. He was always pretty calm. Not everyone has the same personality. You know there’s always things happening, there’s ups and downs, especially that year with his health. He always remained pretty even-keeled and that's something I’ll always take from him.

: Does Mario visit the locker room very often?
A: Oh yeah, he's around. The guys are used to seeing him. He definitely has a presence. I mean, you see men who grew up watching him become pretty quiet around him and even shy.

: What does he charge you in rent?
A: I don’t need to talk about that.

: What do you think of the Penguins new home, the Consol Energy Center?
A: I haven’t seen it yet. I think I’m the only guy on the team who hasn’t gone there yet. There’s kind of mixed emotions for me. The Mellon was my first NHL rink, my first home rink, and I got a lot of great memories there. But I'm looking forward to the new arena. It’s beautiful from what I've heard and some of the pictures I've seen. As players we’re excited, the fans are excited, it’s great for the city. It’s something we’re all looking forward to. That being said, the Mellon had some great memories.

: What are your impressions of Las Vegas?
A: First impressions, hot.

: What are you going to do while you're in town?
A: I have no clue. It's my first time here. I just got off the plane.

: Why haven't you visited before?
A: I don't know. It's pretty far away. But I'm here now.

: There was talk a few years ago of bringing a team to Las Vegas.
A: Yeah, I think they had us possibly moving here at one point.

: Do you think NHL hockey would work in Vegas?
A: I wouldn't know. I have no idea. There would definitely be a huge home ice advantage. I don’t know if that’d even be fair. I would have to say they'd have the best home record in the league.

Many thanks to Sid for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jordan Staal Interview - 2010 NHL Awards

Last month at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas we caught up with 2007 Calder nominee and 2010 Selke nominee Jordan Staal to chat about the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room, rivalries, and brotherhood. These are his stories.

Q: What’s with the nicknames on the Penguins? Rob Scuderi was The Piece and you're Gronk?
A: Apparently, yeah. That was Army (Colby Armstrong) a long time ago. He’s not a very smart guy I can tell you that. To be honest, we have a bunch of pretty funny guys but I think the biggest thing is our team is so close. You know, when we’re on the road we have team meals with 15 guys and we have guys that are around each other all the time. So we find dirt on each other pretty quickly and we find nicknames even faster. There’s a lot of funny ones and a lot of funny guys on our team.

: Who are the guys handing out nicknames?
A: Well Army was when he was on team. Billy Guerin has got a few. There’s a lot of guys who throw in their two cents.

: Who are the leaders in locker room? Is it a loud or a quiet room?
A: It’s not too loud. When there’s things to be said there’s a few guys in the room, Billy’s one of them and a few of the older guys, that like to say things. Sid (Sidney Crosby) says some stuff when it needs to be said but he’s not a very vocal guy. But when he does talk, people listen. There’s a few other guys that are like that in the room.

: How about you? Are you joker or a quiet guy?
A: I don’t know, I’m kind of a mixture. You get me on the right day I can be pretty funny. But around the games you know I can be pretty serious and try to get things done.

: Did the Penguins miss Rob Scuderi and Hall Gill this year?
A: Yeah, I think so. They were a big reason why we won the Cup. They were a great pair. I was playing with them a lot being on the shutdown type of line and those guys can do some wonders in the defensive zone and go play in the other end.

: Talk about how Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard impacted the team this season.
A: Yeah, that was tough. Cooke always seems to be finding himself in those situations but that’s the way he plays. He plays hard. He plays to hit guys. He goes out there and plays hockey. It was a tough situation for him especially. You know, you don’t want to see a player like that go down but you want to keep the game as hard-nosed as you can. There’s that fine line.

: Who are the toughest defencemen for you to play against?
A: I don’t know, there’s quite a few. I think the Flyers had some pretty solid defence that were tough to play against. Three or four guys there that are pretty good. You know, it's not one specific guy, but there’s a few teams here and there.

: Who are the biggest rivals for Penguins these days?
A: I think there’s two. Philadelphia is obviously the biggest one. That’s been going on for a long time. But I think Washington is another one that is starting to grow. It's really something that our team gets up for and wants to win.

: I guess you don’t face the Western Conference enough to develop rivalries.
A: No, not really. You want to win those games obviously, just like any other game. But when you’re not playing a team too many times, it’s tough to build that rivalry.

: Tell me about growing up with three brothers.
A: Yeah, it was the way brothers pretty much always grow up together. We gave it to each other pretty hard. I think we all had that competitive level which made it even worse. But it definitely helped us to make it where we are today.

: Who had the worst temper?
A: Well Jared probably had the worst temper. Probably because we were bugging him the most. But I don’t know, we were all pretty tough on each other. Eric was kind of the mediator between us all. Marc was probably the biggest pest.

Many thanks to Jordan for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Barry Trotz Interview - 2010 NHL Awards

Last month we spoke with Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas to discuss off-season strategy and surviving at the low end of the salary cap. These are his stories.

Q: Discuss your relationship with GM David Poile and your role in strategizing trades and off-season acquisitions for the Predators.
A: Well I've been with David for over 23 years now. I started in the scouting fraternity and now I'm coaching so I’ve gone through the whole process. David is really good at showing us the long term plan. As a coach you want instant gratification and sometimes that's not the way the organization wants to go. I think I have a real clear understanding of where David wants to go. Sometimes as a coach you want to do something and he lets you voice your opinion. But whenever a decision is made everybody jumps in and makes it happen. We’ve got a real good culture. We can’t play by the same rules as a lot of teams. We understand that’s no excuse so we’ve just got to find a better way to do it.

: Despite the constraints of the cap, some teams operate with a team salary $16m below others. How does a team that spends only 73% of its competitors compete?
A: I can tell you this. Since the salary cap was introduced only nine times have teams that spent in the bottom five made the playoffs. And Nashville is five of those nine times. So you can do it. I think for us we’re probably in a range right now where we’ve got some good young guys and before they mature and maybe get out of our price range or don’t fit into our salary structure we have a good window to do some damage. So things just have to fall into place. Hopefully we continue to grow fans in Nashville and that allows our budget to go up a little bit and keep our own players a little more often.

: Who’s the next captain of your team?
A: Well I’m not going to tell you that. We’ll make a public statement. But you can guess.

: Perhaps a certain defenceman from the Canadian Olympic team?
A: It’ll probably be one of our younger core. Good guess.

Many thanks to Barry for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Patrick Kane Interview - 2010 NHL Awards

Last month we spoke with Chicago Blackhawks ladies man Patrick Kane at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas about his plans for the Cup, affinity for the New York Yankees, and luck at the tables. These are his stories.

Q: What are your plans for your day with the Stanley Cup?
A: Probably bring it back home. I’m not sure when I’m getting it yet but there are some dates that look pretty good. It should be fun.

: Has it been out of your sight since you won? I saw you with it LA last week and now it's here with you Vegas.
A: Yeah, it’s the best wingman in the world.

: I noticed you were wearing a Yankees cap the other day in LA.
A: Yeah I’m a big A-Rod fan so that’s why I like the Yanks. I was actually hoping the Cubs were going to pick him up when he was a free agent but it didn’t work out.

: You getting any pressure in Chicago to throw on a White Sox or Cubs cap?
A: Yeah, I actually have a Cubs hat that I usually wear. Somehow it got soaked at the bar one night and it was all mangled. The Yankees one was next on the shelf I guess.

: Did you have any luck at roulette last night?
A: Yeah, me and my buddy won some pretty good money. We’re going to go back today after this and try to double it up.

Many thanks to Patrick for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Patrick Sharp Interview - 2010 NHL Awards

Last month we met with the Chicago Blackhawks resident handsome bastard Patrick Sharp at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas to discuss the Canucks, the cap, and the Cup. These are his stories.

Q: Talk about the your playoff series with the Vancouver Canucks this year.
A: It’s a great rivalry. I think they’ve got a team that is capable of winning every year and they've given us a tough effort the past two seasons in the playoffs. It’s one of those rivalries where two teams probably don’t like each other very much but at the end of the day have a lot of respect for each other. I’m sure we’re going to face them again down the road.

: Do you notice the Canucks improving from year to year? Were they harder to play against this season than last?
A: It’s tough to say. I mean they’re tough to play against every time we play them whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs. We seem to have some exciting games against them, lots of fights, lots of bad blood between the two teams. But like I said they’re two teams that I think are going in the right direction with a lot of young talent. Two teams that are capable of winning. You know, who knows, whoever wins that series could have won it all. We could be watching the Canucks walking around with the Cup right now.

: Chicago had a special team this year but now they have salary cap issues. How does it feel to see some of your teammates get traded today?
A: It’s tough. I don’t think it’s catching anyone by surprise. At the same time it’s always difficult to see guys you played with and won a championship with move on. Whoever’s leaving the team you got to wish them the best of luck going forward and remember we did something special this year. We can always remember that.

: How are you going to spend your day with the Stanley Cup?
A: It’s a good question. I’m just trying to figure that out right now. I’ve got a lot of plans. People back in Thunder Bay are starting to get pretty spoiled. They had Eric Staal bring it back a few years ago, Jordan Staal last year, and now me. It’s going to be a fun day. I’ll just get my family and friends involved.

: Have you picked a day yet or are you still jockeying for dates?
A: I’ve picked a day but we’re still trying to figure all that stuff out. It’s the toughest job in hockey trying to put that schedule together.

Many thanks to Patrick for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Brad Richards Interview - 2010 NHL Awards

Last month at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas we caught up with Conn Smythe and Lady Byng winner Brad Richards to chat about his nomination, the Dallas Stars locker room, and his summer training regime. These are his stories.

Q: You racked up 91 points during 1,669 minutes of ice time this season. Tell me about the 14 minutes you spent in the sin bin?
A: All 14?
Q: Yup.
A: Can’t remember them.
Q: Nothing? No recollection?
A: Puck went over the glass once.

: Wow. You're a bad man. Tell me about the music in the Dallas Stars locker room?
A: Ah, the music is terrible unless I get a hold of it. There’s a lot of country and I’m not sure what you call some of the stuff. Steve Ott and Marty Turco actually do a lot of it.

: So they’re the team DJs?
A: Yeah, they can clear out a room pretty quick.

: What's the vibe in the room before games? Is it talkative or quiet?
A: We’re one of the quietest teams I've played on. I don’t believe in a whole lot of yelling. We have a young team that's feeling there way along a bit in that department. You know, sometimes it’s overkill if one guy is always talking so when he backs off all the sudden collectively it becomes a little more quiet.

: Is there any religion in the room?
A: Not a lot of that. There was one guy but it's all up to the individual as to what they want to do.

: How do you spend your summers?
A: Just getting ready for next year.

: How do you train?
A: Hard.

: In a group or on your own?
A: I've got a guy down in Tampa. I live there in the off-season. There's other athletes but when I’m training it’s just me and him.

Many thanks to Brad for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.