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April 24, 2007

Scott Mellanby

Don Waddell

ROB KOCH: Thanks for joining us this morning. On the call today is Thrashers GM Don Waddell and captain Scott Mellanby, who officially announced his retirement today after an illustrious 21-year career.
We'll take some opening remarks from Don and Scott.
DON WADDELL: On behalf of the Atlanta Thrashers organization, it's been a true honor and privilege to have Scott Mellanby be a part of our organization. We signed Scott the summer of the lockout. He's been with us actually two full seasons, for three years. Not only have we watched him on the ice, but what he's done for our organization in the locker room and off the ice is something that's been very remarkable. It's going to stay with our franchise for years to come.
The effect he's had on our younger players, when we had our post meetings with all our players, every play to a T spoke of not only how professionally he handled himself but how he handled himself being the leader of this hockey club. I'd like to thank Scott publicly for everything he's done for our organization and wish him nothing but the best as his future moves forward into his new career.
SCOTT MELLANBY: Well, I guess, first of all, thanks to Don for those comments. I'm appreciative of the opportunity to come to Atlanta. It's been a great experience to work with Don and the organization. It's a classy place to be. I'll have great memories of that.
As far as today, you know, it's a sad day but a good day. It's been a great ride. It's time to go on to do something else. I want to thank the media that are on the phone, I've done a lot of work with you guys over the years being in a leadership role with several of the teams I've been with, and you have been very fair to me, have always listened to me complain to you at times, but you've been very fair and I'm appreciative of that.
ROB KOCH: We'll take questions, please.

Q. Scott, do you feel shortchanged as you watch Stanley Cup playoffs, that you've never had a chance to carry the Stanley Cup? I know, considering the career you've had, to see other people won it two or three times, you've never had a chance.
SCOTT MELLANBY: No, I don't think so. I don't feel shortchanged. You know, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a void in my career. It is. I've been deep in the playoffs several times. It just never happened for me. It's disappointing. But I think at the end of the day, as a player, all you can do, when I look in the mirror, I know I've given everything I've had on the ice, off the ice. I've always been committed to the game. I don't look back. I have no regrets as far as trying to accomplish that goal. It just wasn't in the cards for me. Like I said, I've been to the Conference Finals and Finals quite a few times. I guess it wasn't meant to be.
Does it make me jealous when I see guys carry the Cup? Of course, it does. It's a dream of all kids when you're playing as a young kid in your driveway, all that kind of stuff. It will always be a void for me. But that's just the way it is.

Q. Was the hardest one considering you got to the finals in '87 for Philadelphia, just coming into the league? Were you thinking, This is cake?
SCOTT MELLANBY: I think there's no question when you're that age, you don't appreciate. I'd say my only regret to that, I don't think you really at the time appreciate how hard it is to be there. I went into a great situation in Philadelphia with a really good team. We got back to the semifinals a couple years later.
I think at the time you felt like you'll be back next year. It's the way it is. It doesn't go that way. You know, '96 we weren't as close to winning, in losing to Colorado. When I got to that point in my career, I was much more appreciative what it took, especially with the kind of team we had in Florida to get there. In St. Louis I thought we had a chance, too, but it didn't happen. I was a period away from starting my career with the Stanley Cup championship. To spend the next couple decades not getting it done is disappointing.
I'm proud of what I've accomplished, proud of the teams I've played for and the organizations I've played for. It just doesn't happen for every guy, I guess.

Q. The incident with the rats in Florida, can you rehash that one, where you killed the rat?
SCOTT MELLANBY: That's something that will be a great memory of mine over the years. That was something that happened early in the season, in the dressing room. It became kind of very obviously unique to our team that season. I think the league after that -- it was unique to our team, unique to that year. People still remind me of that. I remember playing in the All-Star Game that year. A kid came up to me outside, he said, Hey, you're the rat guy. I don't think he knew my name. He knew I was the rat guy. It was in Boston.
Great memories of that team.

Q. I'd like for you to expound a little bit on that team in particular. You were picked by Bobby Clarke. It was a very unique group. Came together the third year. Talk about the character of that team.
SCOTT MELLANBY: Obviously we had great goaltending with Vanbiesbrouck. From day one of that organization, I think we were fortunate. We had a chemistry. That chemistry is something, if you can put it in a bottle, I guess you'd make a lot of money selling it.
For whatever reason, things clicked. We had a lot of third- and fourth-line guys that had a lot of respect for each other. I think that was the biggest thing we had was a ton of respect for each other as players. It would have been I think obviously a great thrill for us to have been able to win the Cup that year. We were definitely beaten I think by a better team. A lot of those guys, I think there's definitely a unique bond that was formed within that team, a lot of people in the South Florida community.
Certainly I think my early days in Philly were great, but I think that really -- the memories of teams, I think the chemistry we had early on in Florida probably will be the strongest memories I have as far as feeling part of a great group of character players and people.

Q. Toward the end of your time, I remember you signed a four-year contract extension. You said at the time that you wanted four instead of three because you thought it might be your last contract. Eight years later you're finally done.
SCOTT MELLANBY: I think there's a lot of that. As you get older, I guess you never really know when the end is going to come. You keep plugging away. I'm very comfortable with this decision. The last couple of years, my last year in St. Louis, then last year here, I thought it might be the end. But I think quite quickly, even within a day or two, I felt in my heart that I had something left and that I wanted to come back. I think this time around I really feel like I can still play. On good days I still was capable of playing at a decent level. But I think the big picture, the training and the commitment that it takes, I think I'm someone that always has had to be a hundred percent committed to my training, diet, everything else to compete at a good level.
Right now I feel to compete at an average level, I have to put so much effort into just even getting out and keeping up at practice at times. I just feel like I've given what I have, and I don't feel either physically or mentally at this point that I can do it again. I think this is really the first year that I've felt really, really ready to move on.

Q. Have you had much thought as far as what your plans are short-term, this summer, kind of moving forward long-term as far as staying in the game?
SCOTT MELLANBY: I mean, I think it's something you think about. The last years of your career, you wonder, will I stay in the game, won't I. At this point when you get done in a regular season, don't playing the playoffs, sometimes you think about it more. When you're in the playoffs, like we were a week ago or less than a week ago, things come to an end quickly. You get down 2-3, you're still thinking about the next game.
Things have happened quickly. I think there's a part of me that would like to stay in the game. In what capacity, I'm not sure at this point. I think I've been coming to the rink now for a long time, putting in a lot of hours here. I think maybe the next year or so, I'd like to slow down a bit. Hockey is something that I'd like to have as part of my future.

Q. Don mentioned the players talking about your impact with them. What kind of stuff did your Thrashers teammates tell you once the season as over?
SCOTT MELLANBY: I think the guys kind of realized where I was at. We had a nice couple of days after the season, kind of some time with the players individually, as a group, the wives as well, a night out type thing together.
I felt a tremendous amount of -- it was nice. I think when you feel like you care about the game and about your teammates, to get that back from them is something that's very rewarding. I think it was a nice feeling. In Madison Square Garden after the game, when you've lost your season, we're on the ice, players are coming up to me, putting their arms around mere, that was something I'll always cherish. I really feel a tremendous amount of respect from those guys.
I think in the end that's something that's very gratifying.

Q. I know you've been asked about the rats, but how significant was it in your career, maybe not even to the history in South Florida, about you that year in the NHL, to see thousands of rats raining down during the final?
SCOTT MELLANBY: My whole experience in Florida was huge in my career. I think at 27 years old, I'd had some pretty decent years in the league. To be left available in expansion was not something I anticipated. Sather did tell me if we were a good team at that point, he would have kept me. He felt they were going through a rebuilding process.
So I think going to Florida, Bob Clarke was a big influence on my career. He drafted me in Philadelphia. He drafted me in Florida. I think I was ready -- I think I was in a situation where at that age I was ready to take another step as a leader. I was put in a position to produce offensively. Not that I hadn't produced offensively, but I was put in a position with an expansion team to really put in quality ice time.
One of the things I said many time, one of the things I'm proud of in my career in Florida, I scored 30 goals a couple times, and I was an offensive player to a certain degree, but I did it on a good team. I think a lot of players go to situations where they may be in an expansion situation or whatever, they produce, but the team is not successful. I feel as a top player on that team, I was never a superstar in the league, but as a player that was a top player on that team, I was part of a process that we were able to make it to the Stanley Cup finals.
I think you need that. You need your leaders to help your team be good and to breed confidence within the group. I think that Florida was just the right time, the right place, the right time in my career. That was probably the biggest mark of my career, the time I spent in Florida.

Q. Was there a point where you realized suddenly that you transitioned to becoming that leader?
SCOTT MELLANBY: I don't think there was. Obviously becoming an assistant captain and then a captain was a great feeling. I don't think there was a particular day or anything like that. I was very fortunate to start my career. I think one of the things with Don bringing me here to Atlanta, I want to say it was a good move. I think when you're young in your career, you don't realize the impact that good veteran players and good leadership can have on your team and on your young players. When I started in Philadelphia, have guys like Davie Pool, Mark Howe, Brad McCrimmon, Brad Marsh, Dave Brown, he was a tough guy, but a real leader the way he worked. I think that does a lot for you as a player.
I think it was just the evolution of me as a player and having an opportunity to be in a strong leadership role. I think Brian was a great captain for us there at the start. We had a tremendous amount of character guys there. We had a lot of leaders there.

Q. Can you talk about how you want to be remembered as far as playing the game.
SCOTT MELLANBY: I think just to be someone who cared about his teammates and about his organization, about the game, someone that came to play every night. I mean, every night wasn't great, but I feel that I always gave everything I had. I think that would be a good way to be remembered.

Q. Considering your family history, will television be in your future in some capacity?
SCOTT MELLANBY: Well, my teammates always tell me I have a face for radio, so I'm not sure if that's the case. I don't know. Like I said, at this point I'm just going to kind of step back and see where the road takes me. I really have not -- I'm not leaving the game with one specific goal as to where I want to go in the future. I think I would like to be in hockey in some capacity. It's a tough business when you have a family. Obviously, whether it be coaching or whatever, it's a tough business that way. I've moved around a lot as it is. My family's been great. But I have kids to think of, too.
There will be some options out there at some point I hope. Like I said, I'm just going to see how things unfold.

Q. To play 21 years, you've obviously done a lot of things right in your career. Could you maybe mention a few people who influenced you in your career, people you feel allowed you to play as long as you did in this league.
SCOTT MELLANBY: I think my parents, for one. I think you learn as you go along. You also have to be respectful of everybody that you're around and try to learn from them.
This is such a great game. I don't want to demean any of the other sports, but I've said many times I believe as a group of athletes, as a hockey community, whether it's through management, the people you work with at the rink every day, it's just a great group of people. There's been so many. There's been a lot of people who have really touched my career in a lot of different ways. Like I said, Clarkey gave me my start, believed in me, brought me to Florida when I was probably at a tough time, just mentally didn't feel like I would be an expansion player at that point. I've just played for a lot of great people.
My last two stops here, being around Don, Larry Pleau in St. Louis, a classy guy. A lot of great people in the game, a lot of classy people.

Q. When did you seriously start considering retirement? What were some of the emotions that you fought along the way knowing there could be that possibility that you leave the game without having captured the ultimate prize?
SCOTT MELLANBY: Well, I probably started thinking about it in the late '90s (laughter). I would be lying if I didn't say the Stanley Cup thing is something that has pushed me to keep playing year after year. Like I said, it's disappointing that it never happened. But it's so tough now. Even when I came in, this league's gone from 21 teams to now 30. It's that much tougher. You've got a lot of good teams that don't even get in the playoffs. You've got to have a lot of things go right. Those are the reasons I've continued to work on it. I'm a competitive person. I'm the type of person, I enjoy the competition. It's my nature.
I've seriously thought about it the last two years that I've played. My last year in St. Louis and last year here with the Thrashers, I seriously considered it. Like I said, I think I still felt like there was -- when I came to Atlanta, I really felt like making the playoffs was something I was brought here to help the team do. I was very disappointed that it didn't end better in the playoffs for us. But I'm glad I came back, was a part of that process. It was a great place to play here. Happy for the fans to have gotten that opportunity. Hopefully it will be a steppingstone for better success in the playoffs next year.

Q. Looking back 21 years, is there anything that you're most proud of that you were able to accomplish or do as a professional hockey player?
SCOTT MELLANBY: I would say I think probably just I feel that I've been a good teammate over the years. I think the things that teammates have said to me over the years, I think that's the thing that I'm most proud of, is the way I feel I carried myself. I've even told some of my teammates that at different times as far as speeches in the dressing room. I've always felt that the Stanley Cup is obviously the ultimate prize. There's always kinds of different things that come along with things. But, you know, 10 years down the road, 20 years down the road after you're out of the game, what do you want to be remembered for, what do you want to be about.
I think the teammates I've played with over the years, like I said, I think they will remember me for hard work, they will remember me for caring about the team, about players. We all want to have individual success. You have to find a way to do that while also showing the people around you that you care about their success and the team's success. I think I've accomplished that.
I'm proud of that. Like I said, I'm also proud to have just been a part of a great group of people for as long as I have.
ROB KOCH: Thanks, everyone, for joining us, in particular Scott.

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