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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 24, 2007
DAVID KEON: With us we have Anaheim Coach Randy Carlyle, who has taken the Ducks to Western Conference Finals in both years behind the Anaheim bench coaching his first Stanley Cup Final.
Q. How did your playing days and maybe specifically any time you had in Pittsburgh help to shape you as a coach?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I think as a coach, you try to take some of the positives that your previous coaches had impacted on your career. Like Eddie Johnson was a guy that brought in a power play sequence when I was in Pittsburgh as a player that worked along the same lines as a basketball picking system.
And it took the NHL officials a while to figure out what we were doing with it. But I think we scored 109 power play goals that year with it. Stuff like that.
I think you always look back on some of the things and experiences that you had as a player positively or negatively. There's just some things I won't do because as a player I hated doing them.
And I think it's important but you can analyze which ones your team likes versus what you did personally. And I think that's important, also.
Q. Some captains put their stamp on the team. Others don't. Can you describe Scott Niedermayer's impact on this team?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: It's huge. Obviously a player of that caliber has the ability to play the huge minutes. I think the one thing that you can say about Scott Niedermayer, he has a calming effect to your group. When things get a little hairy, and they always do at certain times, he has the ability to just slow down the tempo or speed up the tempo at the right time.
He's not a very loud boisterous individual. You see the way he plays. He's very unassuming in the way he handles himself. But I would say that the number one asset for him as a person, with our group, he has the ability to calm things down and calm people down in tense situations.
Q. Do you think he got that by being in the finals four times?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think it's all part of the experience. I think if you know his personality, that doesn't change because he's been in the finals. I think it's just the type of person he is. Obviously being there and lived it, when he does make statements, it carries a lot of weight. And as I said he's not a real huge talker, but he's an individual that when he talks it carries a lot of weight. That's for sure.
Q. Randy, what are the advantages and disadvantages of being a top-heavy team with one principal scoring line, as Ottawa seems to have right now?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I don't think they're top heavy so to say. I think they've got lots of balance in their lineup. Obviously the Spezza, Heatley and Alfredsson has statistically led them through this playoff series so far.
But they've got lots of depth in their hockey club. They've got lots of skill on the back end. I don't think that they're what I would describe as a one-line hockey club. I think they've got lots of fire power.
Q. Could you comment, please, on Ottawa's power play. Certainly have big three up front and then they have Redden and Corvo on the blue line. What's your impression, what's the scouting report on that power play?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Obviously they've got lots of skill. I think they use Redden as their quarterback. He's the guy that dishes the puck off. They've got Spezza on the sidewall. Heatley is a big body in front of the net, moves in and out. And Alfredsson, I don't know if there's a more dynamic player right now at this time of the year than what he's brought to the table.
Obviously with Redden in the back end, Corvo is a shooter. He's more of a guy that can shoot the puck. He's got a big-time shot.
So they've got all their weapons and they move it around very, very effectively. What you have to do with them is there's times to pressure and there's times not to. You've got to keep that thing tight. Try to push them outside of the shooting lanes and keep things to the outside. It's a difficult task and they've had lots of success so far in the playoffs.
Q. The situation with not having played Ottawa this year, not having played them here since I think 2003, we were just listening to Daniel Alfredsson on the previous call here, remarkably sounded like he had never watched Chris Pronger play hockey almost before. Can you talk about that total lack of familiarity that exists with these series now?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I know I've watched a lot of the Ottawa Senators, and I'm sure their coaching staff has watched a lot of our games. Players might have a different viewpoint in watching hockey. I think there's not a lot of things that do go by that you don't pay attention to.
We live and eat and sleep the game. And specifically in the playoffs everybody's glued to the TV. And we've taped all the games. We watch what teams are doing because the successful teams are the ones that you'd like to emulate. You'd like to steal some of their, if they have a face-off play or they're doing something that they're having success with.
And I think that all coaches and all people from the coaching side will pay a lot of attention to what's going on in the playoffs. But the players, they might have a different viewpoint on it. Depending on the time difference, too. A lot of players, probably, we always get that -- our fans don't stay up and watch our games because if it's an 8:00 start, it's past midnight before it's over for them.
Q. Ottawa, it's billed as Canada's team in this championship series, but in the last game there were 14 Canadians on your team and 13 on Ottawa. So would you like to contest that perception there?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think obviously the passion that the Canadian hockey fan has for the game, they always utilize that as a motivation factor. For us, we've got lots of Canadians, and all our coaching staff is Canadian. Our general manager is American. There's a lot of Canadian content to it. It's two hockey clubs. It's not the U.S. versus Canada as we perceive it. But I think that's just a marketing tool for some people.
Q. Wondering if you could assess your squad right now coming off that tough six-game series and how do the guys feel about taking on a Senators team that looked very solid in the first round?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think like us we take a workman-like attitude towards any of the groups or teams we've played so far. Our mandate is not going to change. Obviously when you get to this point, you know that the opponent that you're facing has achieved quite a bit. And as we have.
We show a tremendous amount of respect to our opposition. We know that they're a hockey club that might be what people are describing are playing the most consistent brand of hockey at this point. And that's a challenge for us.
We have to play better than we played in the last series. We know that. We're expected to do that. And that's -- you don't get here by smoke and mirrors. You have to earn your opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup finals. And the Ottawa Senators have done that and the Anaheim Ducks have done that.
Q. Do you know Bryan Murray very well?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: No, not at all. I know Bryan previously, he was a coach in the league, when I was playing in Pittsburgh, was in Washington. And when I headed out to Winnipeg, he coached there. Very little off-ice interaction with him.
Q. In light of the injury to Chris Kunitz what kind of contributions have you gotten from the spares, guys like Joe Motzko and Ryan Carter guys who played all the season with the Pirates?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: We looked to those players late in the last round against Detroit, because we felt with the Carter kid, a big, strong, physical for us could be strong down low in the puck.
Motzko was more of a skilled guy but his role would have to change if he was going to play with us on the fourth line. We found those kids went in.
We didn't use them a tremendous amount, five or six minutes in each game, plus it's important that you have the big bodies in the defensive side of things and able to provide energy. And I thought both players did.
Q. Do you think back on the subject of playing Ottawa for the first time. Do you think the fact you're playing a team for the first time, aside from the fact it takes different ways to prepare, does it really add to the marquee value for a Stanley Cup Final?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Again, it's a good hockey club we're playing. And you know they've accomplished a lot. Because we haven't played one another, I don't think it has as much bearing that the people are making it out to be. It's two good hockey clubs that are going to meet. Seven-game series. Obviously they've done some things very well. And we feel we've done enough to earn our opportunity here. And it should make for a great final.
Q. How did the combination of the disappointment from last season's playoffs and the expectations you guys had coming into this season as one of the favorites help you to sort of break through in the west?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Again, I made the statement before that when we lost to Edmonton last year, we made a statement that mediocrity was not going to be accepted. When we broke up as a group at the end of the playoffs we were pretty down, but we had taken a lot of strides.
Our young players had started to develop and were making contributions. And we built our hockey club based upon the success that we had that playoff run.
Then the exclamation point for us and our whole organization was when we acquired Chris Pronger. And that set everybody's mind that we were going to be very, very serious about what we're going to do. And the players were very committed right from the start of training camp. And we had that core group. There wasn't a lot of turnover. There was maybe three or four guys that left the hockey club. With the acquisition of Pronger and some of the younger kids, we were back, everybody was on the same page right from the first day of training camp.
We were expecting a lot of ourselves, and we were a group that was committed to getting a good start out of the gate. We had a tremendous start. And I think that really was the kick-off point for our hockey club. And we've just tried to ride the wave since.
Q. I was wondering if you could just give me your thoughts on why perhaps your checking line with Sammy Pahlsson and those guys has been a little more offensively successful in the playoffs than they were during the regular season?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Again, we talk about it all the time. When you play the number of minutes that those people were getting, that offense was expected. They had to provide some offense.
I think it's a perfect case of playoff-type goals. Those are the tough ones. And those players have been able to raise their offensive production, and it was a welcome sight, because we had asked of them throughout the season that you'd have to shoot the puck more. You'd have to do this on the offensive side more.
And now they're getting rewarded for their amount of effort and the commitment that they've made. And we would shudder where we would be without them.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much, Randy.
DAVID KEON: Now our final guest is Ducks Defenseman Scott Niedermayer, playing in his fifth Stanley Cup Final, three-time Stanley Cup champion. Recorded three goals, six assists for nine points appearing in all 16 Duck playoff games.
Q. How satisfying is it to once again compete for the Stanley Cup and did you for even a second consider that it might not happen after leaving New Jersey?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Well, obviously, I think every player loves the opportunity, whether you've been there before, whether it's your first time.
It's an exciting place to be. It's a place you want to be, obviously. So I'm really looking forward to it. Getting older and these chances don't come along every year. So it's going to be a lot of fun for sure.
And as far as expecting to be back there when I left New Jersey, I don't know. You always think that's your goal. That's where you're trying to get to. That's where you think that you're going to be at the end of the year. Otherwise I don't know if you would sort of start the year or whatever. So I think every year you start that's your goal that's where you want to be and I guess that's where you see yourself being.
Obviously it's very difficult to achieve and you understand that. But you do believe that you're going to get back there.
Q. Does it get harder as you get older?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Harder to get back there?
Q. To make the runs, to make a long run like this.
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Well, personally, I feel good. Physically and everything. So in that sense is it harder, no. But I think you understand that it is hard to do and to have success in the playoffs, it's very intense. It's physical. It's a huge challenge. And you do realize that more and more every year as you've been around, for sure.
Q. Scott, you played with some real good checkers in Jersey. Where does Pahlsson fit in as a checking forward?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Well, he's done a great job for us the last couple of years in the role that he's asked to play. I would say in some senses he's a little different than those two guys you mentioned, just sort of the way he plays. He's probably a little bit bigger, stronger, relies on that a bit more.
Whereas those guys maybe rely on their skating and quickness and whatnot more to play defense. There's definitely different ways to have success. But they're all great, great defensive players. And I just heard the last question to Randy. You need well rounded scoring as well. And all those players you mentioned at times have provided, are capable of providing offense as well.
So I've been fortunate to play with some great defensive players like you said.
Q. Scott, traditionally hockey has faced a lot of challenges getting noticed among other pro sports in southern California. Can you talk about playing here as compared to back east in terms of the fan interest and do you think you have a chance to win some new fans now?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: I'm sure obviously definitely you could get a little more attention as you get further into the playoffs. And hopefully we are taking up a few more fans as we go.
As far as what it was like back east, in some senses it was similar. Playing in New Jersey, sort of a market close to a major market of the country, basically New York. In some senses you're sort of in that shadow a little bit as maybe we are here of LA a little bit.
But those are big questions. Those are bigger questions than one question can change ordeal with. We go out there. We perform as hard as we can.
Hopefully the people that watch and see what we're doing enjoy it and have fun. And really that's as simple as it can be, and that's the way I look at it.
Q. We were listening earlier to Daniel Alfredsson talk about two teams really haven't seen much of each other at all this year. He was saying how he really had very little sense of Chris Pronger, to name one. I was just wondering how it is with yourself and your guys with, how much do you really know about Heatley and Spezza and those guys having not played I suppose too many games against them?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: That's a different challenge now that we'll face. That does happen when you get to this stage and you're playing the team from the other conference. We're both in the same boat.
I guess personally I have played some of those guys a fair amount. So I'm somewhat familiar with them as they are with me. But there are some young guys, some guys that have been out west here that haven't played against each other a lot. That's a challenge both sides have to deal with.
Does it make a little different dynamic and whatnot, for sure? The first little bit will be far different than playing any team you've played eight, ten times counting exhibitions possibly at the start of the year.
Q. What does Randy bring to this team in terms of both attitude and from a strategic standpoint?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: I think he's very straightforward. Simple and straightforward, and I think that makes it very clear to the players what he wants.
And that's what he expects. And I think a lot of guys appreciate that. There's definitely different ways to deal with situations and whatnot. But he's very direct.
As far as strategy, I think he's, I don't know, it's sort of hard to answer that question exactly. But he likes aggressive hockey. He likes hard work. I think obviously that leads to success. And that's the biggest thing to have success in the playoffs and playing hockey is commitment and hard work.
He demands that. He asks for that. And he likes to be aggressive and sort of goes well with the personnel we have on our team.
Q. Even though last year ended and the expectations going into this year how tough of a task did he have to steer the team to this point?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: I think you get that close and you get a bit of a teaser of what it's like, I think that really motivates players. And just on its own. But when expectations are that high and things are expected, that's a challenge, for sure.
And we started out very well. We had a bit of, sort of a lull there mid-season. That's a challenge, just to keep things positive and have the team come out of it okay. There's definitely been challenges for us this year and he's been a big part of it.
Q. Randy Carlyle talked about the boost that the acquisition of Chris Pronger gave the team as far as a mental state going into this season. What did you think when Pronger was acquired. And is there a comparison to be made when you played with Scott Stevens here and now having you and Chris Pronger in Anaheim?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Obviously when we did acquire Chris last summer, you know initially it's sort of a hard to believe scenario, as we just finished playing each other in the conference final and had so much success. So it's kind of a training situation. But obviously to add a player like that, you're excited.
He had been around. There was no secret as to what he can bring to a team. And when you get a player like that to be on your side, you're excited.
As far as for me to compare playing with him and playing with Scott, you know I think in a lot of ways there are some similarities. Sort of different style players, both Chris and I and Scott and I were different. We weren't out there trying to do sort of the same things. A lot of fun playing with players of that caliber and being able to be back on the blueline paired up with them in different situations.
I guess Scott and I were a little, our ages were different and sort of as I was kind of improving and getting older and learning things, he was moving on in his career. So in that sense that's probably the biggest difference, I guess.
Q. I'm just wondering if you can talk a little bit about Giguere about not just the way he plays but having a world-class goaltender having it on the ice and off the ice and can you compare it to Marty Brodeur all those years?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: I've been fortunate obviously to play in front of good goal tending, which it's no secret it's a huge part of having success in hockey and the playoffs. Playing in front of Marty basically for the first 12 or plus years of my career. I mean what more can anyone say about how good he's been and what he's done.
Then coming here and playing in front of Jiggy and Bryzgalov, talented guy, when he's been in, very capable. It's been great. I've been spoiled in that sense to be able to play with and in front of those type of goaltenders. Makes your job as a defenseman, you have that confidence to allow certain shots or certain plays to develop knowing your goaltender is going to handle those. It's very important, for sure.
Q. I assume this is what you had in mind playing for the Cup for when you joined your brother in Anaheim, this is the whole idea behind the thing?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Yes. I don't know if I would say it was the whole idea. We've enjoyed traveling together during the regular season, going out for dinner on the road. Having him come over here or going over to his house when we're in town. So there's a lot more to it than just here wanting to get to a Stanley Cup final and trying to go from there. But it's exciting to be able to compete together and then to be able to step up and be in the finals together is tremendously exciting.
It's obviously a lot different than it was four years ago, I guess, when we were facing off against each other. So it will be a good experience and obviously something we'll remember.
Q. Talk about the challenge of playing a team that you rarely see as opposed to teams you've just been battling so many times throughout the regular season.
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Well, obviously it would be more video. There will be going over more sort of tendencies and whatnot of the opposition, just because like you said we haven't seen them a lot. We're not as familiar with them. Teams in our division that we've played eight times. We can probably put together a video on our own just knowing how certain players do things. So we're going to have to pay a bit more attention in those meetings and try and learn as quick as we possibly can.
But once a series starts to go, you've got a game or two under your belt, you become pretty familiar pretty quickly when the games are played this intensity and this hard.
The rivalries and those things develop fairly quickly.
Q. I assume you were watching a little closer than usual in the last series, watching Ottawa; is that correct?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Well, you would watch definitely a little bit of that hockey when you're on the road in the hotel the night before the game you do see those games.
I guess as the series developed you figure Ottawa has the lead and that would probably come out. But at the same time we had our hands full trying to deal with our situation here. So I don't think we were looking too hard at who the opposition may be. I think we had to deal with what was right in front of us initially and go from there.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much, Scott.
End of FastScripts