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June 11, 2016

Peter DeBoer

San Jose, California: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Logan Couture missed time earlier in the year. Can you measure his impact on this team.
COACH DeBOER: Well, huge. I think when he went down, we were 4‑0. We had a great start to the season. We felt guys were slotted in the right spot. It was a catastrophic injury, it really was. There was talk at some points there he might miss up to six months.
I think it was a blessing in disguise looking back at it now because it forced me to get to know the organization top to bottom. We tried a lot of young guys in different spots. Hertl played some center. We brought guys in. Tierney had a chance to play.
It was a quick learn for me on the depth of the organization. Got to know the young guys, know what they could do, what they couldn't do.
When he did come back, he was fresh because he missed 30 plus games. We had a real good handle on the group going into the deadline, what we felt we really needed, what young guys we felt could help us.

Q. I'm sure as the post‑season has gone on and games get more important, obviously now you have more than ever to play for, you probably haven't had to give an inspirational speech in quite some time. Do you know how long that's even been?
COACH DeBOER: Inspirational speeches? Been a long time.
We've got a veteran group. I don't see my job as going in there. These guys don't need to be inspired to play. They're in the Stanley Cup Finals. Some of them have waited 18 years. There's no speech I'm going to give Patty Marleau and understand the situation and make him play harder. That's for movies and Sunday football, for sure, when you're playing 11 or 12 games a year.
When we're on our 105th game, I'm just trying to get our game on the right track, get them out there with as much energy as possible and get our execution in the right place.

Q. The power play hasn't scored since Game1. What hasn't been clicking there?
COACH DeBOER: I think special teams. It goes in waves. I think we haven't had as many opportunities as we have some other series. You don't get in that rhythm when you go long stretches without one and then get one. It's hard to get in that mindset.
We got to keep moving our feet, keep trying to draw penalties. I think there's penalties out there. They're letting the teams play. So we've got to attack more holes, you know, find a way to draw some more penalties to get in our rhythm.
I think when we're getting power plays, we usually work our way into it. When we're getting one or two a game, it's tough.

Q. Pete, Melker Karlsson is a guy that didn't have the regular season he wanted to, but I think you said yesterday he's gone up another level in the playoffs. What is he doing now that wasn't there earlier in the year?
COACH DeBOER: I don't know if he's doing anything different. It's confidence. Melker has always brought a high IQ to the game, a high compete level. Plays both ends of the rink. He's honest. He's done that every game he's played this year for us. I don't think any of that has changed.
Just feeling confident in creating offense. I think with some of the injuries we've dealt with, he's playing higher in the lineup. He gets maybe some more offensive looks.
The great part about Melker is you know exactly what you're getting every night, whether he's scoring for you or he isn't.

Q. To follow up on Logan and what he's meant to the team this year. Coming from a 5‑12 start at home, is it that simple, was the turnaround him coming back? Were there some other things in play there as far as grasping the system, doing what you wanted it to do?
COACH DeBOER: He was a big part of it. We really liked our team coming out of training camp. We went into L.A., won the first game of the season. Went into Anaheim, won. With the guys slotted in the spots they were in to start the season, I thought we had the potential to be 105‑ to 110‑point team. When he goes down, definitely that changes.
That's not the only thing. He comes back. We got a real good handle on the depth of the organization, which allowed Doug to make some real good acquisitions to fill some of the holes that we realized we had.
I think if that doesn't happen, like I told Pierre, sometimes you go into the deadline and you say, We've got this young guy here, he can do that job.
Well, we tried every young guy in every spot the first half of the year because of that injury. We had a real good handle on who could do what. I think that led to the acquisitions.
It all went hand‑in‑hand.

Q. Another question about Logan. This is your first year here. He had never worn an A before. Do you think he's embraced that role as a leader?
COACH DeBOER: I think he definitely has embraced it. I think he's earned it. I think when I got here, probably the toughest job I had was sorting out the leadership. There's so many quality people here. The guys not wearing letters right now are Vlasic, Marleau, Burns. You got guys, Joel Ward. We've been inclusive in making sure that every leadership meeting we have, that group is much bigger than guys that wear the letters.
Those were tough decisions. To all our group's credit, everyone put their egos aside. The decisions we made, everyone was 100% onboard. We just wanted to put that in the rearview mirror, and the drama that went with that, and concentrate on hockey. I think our group's done that.

Q. I know you've heard this question before. Many a western team in a series against a far eastern team has said it's to their advantage having done all the travel you've done all year long.
COACH DeBOER: Boy, my body doesn't feel like it, I'll tell you that (laughter).

Q. Do you think that's overstated, especially with the number of days off, or is it something you cling to?
COACH DeBOER: Well, sure, I mean, you look at the record, it's hard to explain. I don't know. Part of the explanation is those Western Division teams, Conference teams you're talking about are pretty good teams. They might beat teams even worse if they didn't travel as much.
I don't know the answer to that. I can tell you, if you ask me if I want to fly back and forth across the country as much as we have, or if we can sit at home and play in a division like Pittsburgh plays in, I think everyone would line up for the Pittsburgh schedule.
The one thing is, we have a resilient group. We're comfortable on the road. The amazing part to me is the group has never used that as an excuse. Never once have I heard about travel or weariness or, We don't want to practice today. It's been the opposite. I've had to stop them from working.
I think the core has been out here doing it for so long, it is what it is, and we deal with it.

Q. What have you learned to do on the plane? What is your favorite activity on the plane?
COACH DeBOER: Mine (laughter)?

Q. My real question is, you mentioned it's the 105th game. Have you learned anything new about this team in the last 23, 24 games that you didn't know before, something that surprised you or is interesting?
COACH DeBOER: I mean, coaching in the east, not watching them play, you fall victim to what you guys write and say about them, which is they can't get it done, there's not enough character, there's not enough leadership. That's what people think.
It's so far off base. There's just no substance to that at all. I think these guys have proven it this year. But I saw that in training camp. You can't help but come in with some of those preconceived notions that you've been reading for a decade.
They quickly put that to rest. It's some of the best leadership and some of the most honest people I've ever worked with. So while it hasn't surprised me, it's definitely something that I've learned.
As far as what I do on the plane, we got five‑, six‑hour flights. You run out of stuff. I found myself the other day watching my wife's Downton Abbey. I watched every movie humanly made. I was so embarrassed. I was curled up in the corner making sure nobody could see me watching a movie. I know some of you watch it, too, so don't laugh too hard (laughter).

Q. When you talked about the leadership group, maybe the perception versus reality, is that the case with Joe, too? Have you learned more about him that maybe you didn't know before, maybe that we didn't know before?
COACH DeBOER: One of the greatest leaders I've been around, hands down. I'm not talking just teams I've coached in the regular season in the NHL. I've coached World Championships and World Junior teams. He's an unbelievable combination of professionalism, work ethic, and a great casual, relaxed way around the dressing room where he makes everybody feel included.
This guy is a fantastic leader.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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