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September 22, 2009

Peter DeBoer

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, we're now joined by Florida Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer. Peter in his second season behind the Panthers bench. Posted a 41?30?11 record last year. The Panthers are in Dallas tonight, and will host the stars in Florida tomorrow. They travel to Finland as they prepare to open the regular season with back?to?back games against Chicago in 2099 NHL premier Helsinki on October 2nd and 3rd. Thanks to Peter for joining us. Operator, we'll open it up for questions.

Q. Pete, I'll ask you the same question we started with Joel Quenneville. Obviously, a little ways to go in training camp. But what did you like most about your team so far as they get set to head over to Europe to play some exhibition and preseason games and then the real deal.
PETER DeBOER: You know what, the thing I like the about our group is they came back really hungry. All the veterans came back to camp in great shape. Did what we asked them to do from a conditioning point. I think they got a taste of how close they were to the playoffs last year. And I sensed a real urgency on their part to make sure that we were ready at the start of the season this year, and they showed that play by the conditioning they came in.
The second part that I've been real happy with is obviously it being my second year, we haven't had to go through the honeymoon period we went through last year getting to know each other, me getting to know the personnel, getting to know the system, and what I expect. We've been able to get ahead of the curve that way.

Q. This is quite a travel schedule you guys have had in the preseason. Now getting set to go overseas. Do you look at that as punishment for something you did earlier in your hockey life? Or is it a reward for just being here now?
PETER DeBOER: I can tell you, I used to have one of those Rolling Stones concert T?shirts and I wondered how they could get to all those he cities. I can appreciate that now what it feels like. It hasn't been easy. It hasn't been the perfect situation. But we're getting through it. We're getting some good evaluation of our players and our prospects.
I think the guys are looking forward to getting to Finland. We haven't had a good start in this organization in probably five years to the season. And, you know, from my point of view, anything different from what has been going on here in the past, I was open to. And we feel honored to be one of the teams going to Finland.

Q. Who is going to be the beneficiary of all the air miles you're earning?
PETER DeBOER: I can tell you they don't slip down into the coach's hands. Someone up there is getting them, but not me.

Q. With the loss of Jay Bouwmeester in the off?season, what are you guys going to miss the most about his game? From your perspective, what kind of players are you going to get?
PETER DeBOER: I said this last year, I didn't get to know Jay until I started coaching him. He's one of those guys you don't appreciate until you're with him every day on the ice. He's durable, a good person. Good character. His value for us in our division, he played every night, every shift against Lecavalier and St. Louis in Tampa, against Eric Staal, Kovalchuk, against Ovechkin. And it's hard to put a price or a value on that. Those are tough guys to handle. And I believe there are only five or six defensemen in the world that consistently handle those guys every night, and he's one of them.
So they're getting a great player. And on our end, you know, we've got to live with that hole and replace it by committee.

Q. Are you optimistic with how camp's going that you can replace that?
PETER DeBOER: I am. I think the one thing that we really set out to do once Jay left was to replace the mobility. I think all the signings that we've made here, Seidenberg, Leopold, and Koistinen fit that mold. Again, nobody in our lineup is a 28, 29?minute defenseman like Jay. But if we can have six that are going to contribute 20 minutes a night and be interchangeable, that is the formula we're looking for.

Q. You talked about how different this preseason has been because of the travel. Have you changed your training camp because of that? And by the time you leave to go to Finland. Will you have in your head what you want from your team? Or will the active tryouts still going on throughout the Jokerit exhibition game?
PETER DeBOER: I think the one benefit to our preseason schedule has been, we've been ?? everybody in our organization has been given an opportunity to play in exhibition games for the most part and show us their stuff.
So I think our plan is by the time we get to Jokerit. By the time we leave for Jokerit, we'll have our team in place. We'll have a 24?man roster, and our evaluation and decisions will be done.
That's been the one benefit of it. On the flip side, we haven't had a lot of practice time to go over stuff because of the schedule. I feel much more comfortable. It's my second year. We have a lot of returning players that that's not going to be as detrimental as it might have been last year with a new guy coming in with new systems and a new style of play.

Q. Is there anything specifically about Helsinki that you look forward to doing in your time there?
PETER DeBOER: You know what, there's been a bunch of stuff. I went over in 1998 with Canada's junior team. And I got the opportunity to take the hot sauna's and jump into the freezing ocean afterwards. I really want to do something with our group over there that's unique to the country we're going to. You know.
So we're looking at different options. But to do something that these guys wouldn't normally get the opportunity to do in North America.

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