home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


April 19, 2006

Jason Smith

Steve Yzerman

DAVID KEON: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department, and I'd like to welcome you to the sixth of eight conference calls being conducted this afternoon as we prepare for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In this call we are featuring the Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings. The two teams will open their series Friday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit at 7:00 PM Eastern time on CBC and OLN. We have Edmonton Captain Jason Smith, who had 4 goals and 13 assists for 17 points in 76 games, and from the Red Wings we have Captain Steve Yzerman who 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points in 61 games. Thanks to both Jason and Steve for joining us today.

Q. Steve, obviously, late in the season here, your scoring has increased dramatically and the way you're doing everything, everyone in the league has taken notice. Talking to Babcock about it, he said it was a chicken and egg thing because you were healthy and playing better, or was it the other way around. I want to get your thought on why you played so well late in the season here.

STEVE YZERMAN: Well, I have to go back to the lockout. I sat out an entire year and really didn't skate much during the lockout. And then coming back in the camp after having a year off, I suffered a groin injury and missed part of the preseason and a good part of the regular season. Obviously you get off to a slow start from lack of playing, and it takes a while; I'm sure Jason would agree, in the off-season it takes awhile to get used to the pace of play. Having missed a year and having missed part of preseason and part of the regular season, I was really behind, and it took a while to catch up.

I felt the more games that I played in, the more comfortable I got, and just gradually ice time increased. And probably the reason that ice time increased we ran into some injuries and was able to play into some situations that I wasn't playing in earlier and things just got better from that.

Q. So many guys, older guys that left, Holik, Lemieux, Andreychuk got forced out, early on when you were struggling, did you consider that at all?

STEVE YZERMAN: For a little while I did. It was difficult to get going, late November, early December, it was a struggle for a little while and it was something to consider. But, I'm glad I kind of stuck with it, and felt that I could remain healthy and get in some good work and practice and playing some games that I had hoped to get better.

But, you know, I'm fortunate to be in a pretty good situation here, it wasn't particularly this early in the season, but even so now, that with guys like (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg and other players taking a more prominent role with our team, my role has decreased, and it's made it easier at my age and this stage of the game to be an effective player.

Q. Jason, around Detroit, I think there's great concern among Detroit fans that the the Red Wings have been a very good team this year, yet the Oilers have played them really well. What is it about your team that seems to give the Red Wings a little bit of trouble?

JASON SMITH: I don't really know a specific reason. I think we've gotten some good breaks against them and obviously enjoyed playing a team of Detroit's caliber. It's a great challenge for a team like ours any time we're playing one of the better teams in the league to come out and play well, because we're not given really much of a chance to get the results that we want, and we look forward to that challenge.

Q. Steve, what's Mike Babcock like? Is he somewhere between Scottie Bowman and Dave Lewis or is he totally different?

STEVE YZERMAN: Yeah, I think -- there's definitely three different personalities. How they handle situations, I think they all handle them in a different way. I guess in some ways, he communicates more, is around the players a little bit more, similar to the way Dave Lewis was. Scottie generally was more distant from the players and definitely kept the guys at arm's length. But Mike, he's on top of things immediately. If he doesn't like the way the power plays go or he doesn't like the way drills go in practice, he stops it immediately and kind of gets on any issue right away. So I guess I would say he has a little bit of -- I think he talked to both Dave and Scottie to get feedback on our team. He's definitely a different personality and has his own personality out there.

Q. Steve, your regular seasons have been just terrific about the last ten years. Does the regular season really mean much to hockey players or is it just the playoffs?

STEVE YZERMAN: No, I think that everyone would say the regular season serves a purpose. It's obvious that finishing first doesn't guarantee anything. But I think it's more important how your team plays or you develop a certain style of play or you become a difficult team to play against or whether that be physically or defensively. You have to be a hard team to play against. I don't think where you finish in the standings is incredibly important. But obviously, I think everybody goes out and tries to win every game you play in, but our team, we finished first overall before and haven't had playoff success. We finished third or so in the conference and have been able to win the Stanley Cup. There's really no guarantee. But the regular season definitely serves a purpose.

Q. Your team has only played one game in the last week, tell me how that benefits your club?

JASON SMITH: Well, I think any time you can get a little bit of rest, it's positive. Obviously you want to stay sharp and be able to be ready to play at that high, intense playoff level right away. But got the opportunity to give a few of our guys that logged a lot of minutes some rest, and some guys that are a little bit banged up to get some rest.

I mean, hopefully we'll come out ready and relaxed and focused and play well.

Q. And important, as well, because you got some practice time in, which was a real challenge down the stretch?

JASON SMITH: Yeah, I don't think many teams throughout the League got a lot of practice time throughout the last stretch of the year since the Olympics. It was nice to get out and work on a few things, and try and improve our game and make sure we're ready.

Q. There has been a lot of talk about how this team has to be disciplined against Detroit. How do you do that, because I think by your own admission, down the stretch, you said "there were times that we were undisciplined?"

JASON SMITH: It's obviously going to be very important. I think we, as a team, realized that we can't spend time in the penalty box with a team like Detroit because of their high offensive power and the gifted players and the success their power play has had throughout the season. It's going to be important for us to be physical and be right on that edge and not be spending time in the penalty box.

Q. Steve, emotionally, how does this compare going into this playoffs to all of the other playoffs you've gone through?

STEVE YZERMAN: You know, it's really similar I guess to most recent years. Early in my career, you'd be extremely nervous, where I found myself always extremely nervous without a lot of experience, and I found in the last few years I've just gotten much more comfortable and you kind of know what to expect and you know what it's all about. You just feel much more comfortable, so it really has not changed this year from years in the past.

The only difference I think, everybody is kind of curious to see how the games are going to be played and see how the games are going to be officiated. I think everybody is a little, you know, uncertain as to how that's going to play out.

Q. Do you change your leadership role in terms of how vocal you are in the room during the playoffs versus the regular season?

STEVE YZERMAN: No, not really. As far as being vocal, I don't really purposely do anything. I really don't say a whole lot during the course of a regular season, I really never have, even more so in the last few years. We just kind of go out and play and come playoff time, it's more important just to go out and play well, and if there's any problems, we try and deal with them. But I don't have really any plans for being vocal or quiet.

Q. There's been a lot of talk and reflection over your career in the last year or two, and I wonder if you have any special memories or coaches that you wanted to share from playing minor hockey, junior hockey in Nepean?

STEVE YZERMAN: Well, I really had a great experience playing hockey. It was for the Raiders in Nepean, I think I went there in 1975 or something. And I played on excellent teams and played for really good coaches from way back, a gentleman named Dick Cordick (ph) to Elwick Johnson (ph) to Mike Goddard (ph), who is still in the Nepean area. And then in my last year in Nepean was with the Tier II Raiders and for Bob Koontz (ph) there. I played on really good teams and received some good coaching. It was a great program to be a part of.

Q. And the Raiders won a playoff game last night, and they play, of course, now in the Steve Yzerman Arena. As an alumni, how does that feel having the arena named after, and you did you ever think when you were playing here in Nepean that you would have a career like you've had?

STEVE YZERMAN: You know, at first I was a little uncomfortable. I still go home, my parents live in the area, so I go home occasionally and see the arena. I guess I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. I enjoyed and I spent a lot of time in that recent as a young boy, not only playing but hanging around the sportsplex whether it was around the swimming pool or in the gym they had there. I basically grew up in that building, so I was very appreciative of the fact that they put the building in my name. So there's been a lot of very good hockey players play and come through the Nepean organization and it's a strong one. I was fortunate to play there.

Q. Being in the central division, that gives you 24-games against the 13th, 14th and 15th teams in the West, and you were 25-3-4 against those teams. I wonder if you feel like they appropriately prepared you for the playoffs or would you liked to have a better test as the season went along from your division foes?

STEVE YZERMAN: Well, we don't have any say in our schedule and you go out and you play the games and try and win them. I would have loved the opportunity to play against Ottawa this year, we missed that entire division. Having said that, I think we played enough quality games against top teams and very good teams and we know what to expect. The St. Louis Blues went 4-0 against the Vancouver Canucks this year and I think these teams were better than a lot of people think. There's weak teams in every division, or strong teams and weak teams. When we played the games, we played them, we won them, but there's not much we can do about the schedule.

And so I really don't know how to answer your question other than I think we played well on the road, we played well at home, we went into good teams buildings and won, and we suffered some losses along the way. Again, I don't put too much stock into a record finishing first overall. I'm not going to get caught up on that. I don't think there was a huge difference between the No. 1 seed and the No. 8 ate in either conference. I think all of the series are going to be competitive and looking at us and them, I don't see a huge difference, and I base that on the four games we played over the course of the regular season.

Q. I know you're not going to announce what your plans are beyond the season, but there's always been a lot of talk about perhaps you'd go into management, and I know this year, there was a question placed to you about coaching, but have you refined your thoughts on what you were going to do when you do retire, anything further?

STEVE YZERMAN: Not really. I guess I really think I would like to stay in the game of hockey. I enjoy the game, it's the one thing -- it's obviously something I've done all my life and have a passion for it.

So I'd like to stay within the game. Again, really this year I just focused on playing and haven't put a lot of thought into what I might do next year or the year after or whatnot, but I definitely would like to stay within hockey?

Q. Jason, can you give me your thoughts on (Dwayne) Roloson since he's come over, and there's a lot of talk about your goaltending before that and what he's meant for the team?

JASON SMITH: I think he's come in and played really well for us. He obviously was under a lot of pressure when he got here because of the focus on our goaltending early on in the year. He stepped in and has played well and played with confidence, and I think he's in a comfortable position with the starting role. He's just looking forward to continuing to step up to the challenge.

DAVID KEON: Thanks, gentlemen, for your time today. Good luck in the playoffs.

End of FastScripts...

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297