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NHL STANLEY CUP FINALS: BLACKHAWKS v LIGHTNING


June 2, 2015


Stan Bowman

Joel Quenneville


TAMPA, FLORIDA: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Joel and Stan.

Q.  Stan, how unique is this core group that you've put together?  If a GM put together 10 cores in his lifetime, would he ever come up with something like you have here?  Also, what are you most proud of in keeping this core together?
STAN BOWMAN:  Well, we're very fortunate to have the players that we do here.  I look back at when this all started, sort of signaled when Rocky took over the franchise.  The changes he made gave us some momentum and excitement.
We had a good year leading into that year.  But Rocky came onboard and sort of changed the whole mentality of the organization.  He brought John McDonough onboard.  From that point on we kind of felt like we were getting closer and closer.  Obviously the 2010 season was when we finally broke through.
Those players were the ones that really made this thing go.  When you get a group like that together, young players that show they can win, that's what you need in this day and age.
I think there's a lot of factors.  It's not just that.  Joel and his staff have done a tremendous job with these guys.  It's not easy to get to this point and to keep the group together.  There's a lot of highs and lows.  There's some tense moments over the year.
But when you start the season in September, this is the point that you're building towards, which is getting to the Final.  It's a battle to get here, so I certainly commend the players and coaches for the job they've done to put us in this position.
We got a lot of work left ahead of us here.  It's a challenge.  But you look at what our main guys have done to this point, not only in this playoff run, but in the other ones, I think it shows you they're true champions.
You can't really single one guy out.  It's a collection of guys that have been with us for a while.  They've made it a special thing to be part of.

Q.  Describe Jonathan Toews' best attributes as a captain and leader.
STAN BOWMAN:  Well, from where I see it, Jonathan is incredibly competitive.  He hates to lose.  That's probably a common trait for all athletes.  Nobody wants to lose.  But he's incredibly competitive.  He just wills his way to it.
You watch him in practice, he gets mad if things don't go his way.  He has a high standard for himself.  He holds himself accountable.  For that reason he is the thing that makes everything go.
Joel is with him on the bench.  He can comment on that.
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Focus and preparation is as good as I've seen in any player.  The more important the stage, the more important the situation, he wants to be out there, he wants to be successful.  He'll find a way to make it successful.  It's an uncanny ability he has that you don't see in too many players.
It's will, competitive, warrior, leader.  He's got all the intangibles that you'd like to see in a hockey player.

Q.  Stan, I know you don't build a team trying to build a dynasty.  Is it about sustaining success over a longer period of time?  Did you look at teams like Pittsburgh, how they were able to do it?
STAN BOWMAN:  Obviously when you've had a measure of success, you want to continue that.  That's why we play the game, is to win.  It's not easy to do that.  When we set out years ago, we wanted to be a team that continually had a chance to win the Cup.  That's why you get together.  That's why we play.
So every year that's our goal.  There's a lot of factors that go into it, like I said.  Ultimately it's the players.  They're the ones that get on the ice.
The job our coaching staff has done has been outstanding to prepare these guys and to make the adjustments.  We've had a lot of continuity in our organization, which I think helps.
If you look back at the organizations that have been able to sustain success, they have stability from the top, with Rocky and John McDonough, all our staff, our scouting staff, the development group we have.  They all play a part in this.
At the end of the day, it's the guys that step on the ice that make the difference.  But there are so many people that are part of it.  That's what's helped us get to this point.

Q.  Stan, this group, keeping it together.  There seems to be the sense that it's going to be more difficult than ever to keep this group together after this year.  You've shown an uncanny ability to continue on, to be a really good team in the salary cap era.  Are you confident, even with the big contracts coming to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane next year, this core group, something resembling it, will be able to move forward?
STAN BOWMAN:  You're right, there's a lot of talk about that all the time.  But we've been through this before.  The way I look at it, every team is going to have changes going into next year.  We're not the only ones.  There's going to be some new players.
I think there's a lot of ways to look at that.  If you look at it from a positive, you're going to have some new blood.  You're going to have some guys that weren't part of this.  This is a great experience for our players.
For the guys that are new to our team in the future, they're going to want to get to this point themselves.  So you have that new blood in the system going forward.
It's a challenge.  The salary cap, it's a system we all play under.  We've been through it before.  There's changes to be made to every team, and we're no different.
We certainly have expectations that we want to keep this going.  The main players are going to be back.  You have to rely on some young guys to step into bigger roles.  We're seeing that play itself out here over the season, players like Saad and Teravainen, young guys that are going to play bigger roles going forward.  We have some other young players that are going to get opportunities next year as well.
I think that's not so much the focus for this right now.  We do get a lot of questions on that, but I think we're pretty excited for the game tomorrow night, and we're focused on that.  We'll take care of the other stuff over the summer.

Q.  Stan, one of the silver lining with Kane's injury, was you had time to make some trades.  Looking back at the three guys you got, can you assess them, what you expected from them?
STAN BOWMAN:  When Patrick went down, he was probably the best player in the league.  That was a bit of a blow there.  But I think we were able to rally around that.  Some other guys stepped up.
The players we brought in have all contributed in different ways.
I think when you make moves, you're trying to give yourself depth and options.  You never just say, We're getting this one player, he's alone going to make the difference.
Things evolve over time, whether it's the player's individual play, team play, injury, happenstance, guys can emerge in different roles.
All three of the players we have have been important in getting to this point.
You can break it down into the nitty‑gritty, but certainly I'm happy that we have the depth that we do.¬† For me it's giving Joel options.¬† He's got a great ability to kind of put the right combinations together and make things work.¬† That's what the coaches are so good at.

Q.  Stan, I bumped into your dad here a lot.  Did he provide any unique insight into this matchup?
STAN BOWMAN:  He's seen this team play quite a bit.  Yeah, he lives down here in the wintertime.  He's got a pretty good handle on it.
He had a firsthand viewing of this team many times.  He's given us some of his thoughts.
But I think at this point obviously you've seen what Tampa's done, they've had a great run.  It's impressive what they've been able to do to get to this point.
We're trying to take all the information we can in and prepare ourselves as best we can.  But ultimately it's going to come down to how we execute tomorrow night.

Q.  Joel, you've talked about Jonathan Toews having all the attributes a player needs.  He's so accomplished, has a chance to do something special here again.  What exactly are we seeing?  Where do you see him in the history of the game?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Still a relatively young player, a young stage.  I don't know if too many players have accomplished what he's accomplished.  You'd say the future's very bright for him, because he's got a lot of hockey left in him.
It's pretty remarkable, the accomplishments, because the next accomplishment or the next moment where he's got to try to win, he just seems to always be a part of it.  It's a unique quality that he has.
He makes people around him better.  He makes people around him more competitive.  The way he finds ways to be successful individually and collectively is what probably makes him go better than any player.

Q.  You had a tragedy midway through the season.  Following that, many of your players were affected by the death of Steve Montador.  How through this adversity have you been able to keep this group together?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Right off the bat, you think of the core group.  They've been around, been through some tough ups and downs.  Losing Clint this year was part of that process, where we had some tough moments.
I just think that the team finds a way to rely on one another to get through tough moments, tough stages, tough situations, injuries, losses.  We could go on.
That's the road of trying to make the playoffs, the ups and downs of this team.  We find a way to get back on track quickly.  That's kind of what the playoffs are all about.  The best thing about winning the Cup is visiting the road and trying to get the Cup.
It's never going to be smooth or easy.  The great moments are spectacular.  The tough moments, you can get angry from it, you can get motivated from it, find a way through it.
But I think the resiliency of this group is as good as you're ever going to be find.  It can be complimented to our leadership and the guys that have been here for, say, seven or eight years.

Q.  Stan, could you talk about your sales pitch to Brad Richards a year ago, who takes a pay cut to join your team.  Joel, joining a new team, how has that worked for him this year?
STAN BOWMAN:  After last year, we were close.  We were trying to add to our group.  One area we want to try to improve upon is our center ice position.  Michal Handzus played a big role for us a couple years.  He was an important player.  Any time you lose a centerman like that, you're trying to find that for your team.
In talking to Brad, obviously his desire was to play on a strong team, have a chance to get back to the Final.  He ended the year in a tough way.  Losing in the Final is difficult.
The discussions really were centered around what we were looking for and how that role was going to fit well with him.  He's a consummate professional.  He's obviously played a lot of his career here.  He had some great moments.  He's moved on to be an important player in other organizations.
You saw the ability that he can bring to the table in terms of experience.  Playing in the middle.  Knew he would be playing some talented players, however it worked out.  So that's how the discussion went.
I think it didn't take too long to convince him that this is an appealing option.
COACH QUENNEVILLE:¬† Brad, at the start of the year, he was fine early on.¬† Didn't get a ton of ice time.¬† Didn't get much of a chance to play with Kaner.¬† We were working more so on systems‑wise the responsibility of a centerman.¬† I think he got better with a little bit more ice time.¬† Got a chance to play with Kaner.¬† Took off.¬† Looked like there was a little magic there.¬† Looked like he got more quickness to his game, more puck possession.¬† I think he got more comfortable in our system.
He made good improvements over the course of the season.  That line gave us a dimension offensively and trust defensively, which we were looking for.
I think he's had a real good second part of the season.  Coming into the playoffs, he's been real good for us.

Q.  Stan, when people talk about your team, they talk about how your big guys always seem to come through.  As a GM, do you believe in the notion of 'clutch'?  Do you believe that exists in a player?
STAN BOWMAN:  Yeah, I think that's an important attribute.  It's possibly the most elusive trait to pin down.  There are certain players that have the ability when the game is on the line to elevate their play and to come through.
That's the hardest thing to do.  I think when you look around the league this year, you see how close these games are, really a lot of times it comes down to just a couple moments within a game.
Certainly during the season that's the case.  In the playoffs, it gets magnified.  There's certainly more attention given to every shift, every game.  You notice the players that are able to come through in those pressure moments.  They're the ones that can really make a big difference.
I'm not quite sure how to explain it or describe it.  They just have it.  Fortunately we've got a number of guys that can do that.  They can raise their game in those critical moments.  We're fortunate to have them on our side, that's for sure.

Q.  What's the key to getting these young players into the lineup one, two, three years after they're drafted, getting them to contribute like they are?
STAN BOWMAN:  Well, I mean, for most young players, it's a process.  It takes time.  It's very difficult to just jump into the NHL and be an impact player.  I mean, I suppose Toews and Kane did that.  Beyond that, I think it takes a little bit of a progression, an evolution.
What we try to do with our young players is not rush them to the point where the expectations are unrealistic.  We try to give these guys a chance.  When they do make it into the NHL, they've had some time to develop their game, to gain some confidence usually in the American League.  So when they get to us, that's what Joel and the staff have done such a good job of, putting these guys in a position where they can succeed.
We've got a lot of experienced players that can face those tough matchups, tough minutes.  Some of the young players can learn the league, learn what it's like to be in the NHL for a year.
It's not easy.  The schedule, the travel, the different buildings you go into.  I mean, you have to experience all that so you sort of get that out of the way, then you can play hockey.
If you're trying to experience all that for the first time and be a primary player on your team, that's a lot for a young guy to do.
So I think our coaches have done a good job of working these guys in and giving them the chance to grow.  That's what we're hoping to do going forward.  You need young players to succeed in this day and age.  But it's hard to throw them into the fire in big roles right away.
I think, fortunately, we've got some veteran guys that can absorb those tough minutes and let the young guys sort of work their way in.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, gentlemen.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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