home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


June 4, 2006

Kevin Lowe

Craig MacTavish


Q. You guys just walked in the door, do you feel like you're in the Stanley Cup Finals?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Well, I saw you, so I knew you were in the Finals, and it wasn't the world championship. (Laughter).
Q. Seriously.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Well, I think it's a little bit of a different venue here than maybe what is the norm in the Stanley Cup Finals; the weather, we'll get a sense of it very quickly. We just flew in, so we really don't have a sense of the atmosphere here, yet, other than what we've seen during the games on TV and the atmosphere looks pretty electric in the building, so we're looking forward to that. We're ready to play a game.
Q. For both of you, maybe first, Craig, if you could just speak about Ryan Smyth, he's been through so much, good and bad throughout his stint, and Kevin, he's talked about how much it's meant to him to be an Oiler for his whole career. I'm sure there were times when teams wanted him because he's such a great player but what in your mind made you say, no, this is a guy I want to stay with this franchise?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Well, Ryan is a guy who winning is extremely important to him. Anytime in the past that we've been eliminated or we haven't made the playoffs, he is the guy that's always taken it the hardest. You can see it in his face.
So as a coach or an organization, you have to be tremendously happy for a guy like that to have this opportunity. And obviously, you need the final step to really fulfill a dream of his for sure. Very deserving of it but winning really matters for him.
KEVIN LOWE: I was just going to finish the question --
Q. This better be good, too.
KEVIN LOWE: I think the answer to your question, is if I want to keep my job, it's best not to trade Ryan Smyth. He, as you said, he forever has epitomized what an Oiler is, and what a hockey player is, particularly in Canada, in this case, western Canada. I mean, those guys don't come around every day.
And, yeah, there's rough times and times when, you know, you're questioning where the team is going and what a player does, but you just don't do that over the course of a month or two months; you evaluate over a guy's career. Even if you ever thought about trading a guy like that, you would never -- you could never get a player in return or players that would equate what he brings. So he should be an Oiler forever.
Q. Craig, I think from the outside, some people are surprised you guys are here, but you guys are not surprised you're here. Where does that come from, because that's usually a function of experience or having been down the road before, and a lot of you guys, quite frankly, haven't been there.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Well, we're not surprised now because we've grown as a team through these playoffs. I think it's safe to say that prior to the playoffs beginning that we would have been surprised at that point to be in the situation that we're in; not only that we're here, but we feel like we've got the type of team and the type of game that will win us the Stanley Cup. That would have been probably a surprise if we were being honest.
But now that we're here, we don't think it will be a surprise for us to win a Stanley Cup. We feel like we're capable, we've got the team that can do it, we've got the confidence, as I'm sure does Carolina, coming into this Final. You know, at the start we would have been surprised.
KEVIN LOWE: And there was a time, I don't know when it was, there was a time in the middle of the year where he and I talked, and we felt we had a real good team. We had a team that could not only get in the playoffs but do damage, and that's why we made trades in January and -- because we felt that way, whatever reason, for a month leading up to the end of the regular season, we couldn't quite get to where we were previously. But we had seen enough that it wasn't just a question of us, you know, hoping of going into the playoffs. But we did certainly spin our wheels a bit at the end.
Q. How much does it help having a guy like Pronger just in terms of calming things down and being that steadying, veteran presence?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: It's huge. Obviously, the guy, I can't say enough about his game right now, how good and how well he's playing. You know, there's few players in the game that can control the game like he does, and he hasn't been this far along, either, and it's showing in his play that the one thing about -- he's got great physical skills, but he's got great mental skill. That's maybe the most important aspect of his game is the way that he thinks the game, and he's a sharp, sharp guy as most of you know. And he knows that this opportunity doesn't come along but once every six or seven years or whatever the case is and it hasn't come for him yet. He's playing like he's going to take advantage of it.
Q. First year of the new NHL and two small-market teams reach the Finals, is it a coincidence or a new trend or just GMs being smarter than other GMs?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: That's always part of it, right? (Laughter).
KEVIN LOWE: You know, tough to say. I think a lot of -- all of the above, you know, the coincidence part. I think certainly both teams took advantage and were able to add players, significant players, and that's -- I'm not sure, I don't want to speak to Carolina's finances and budget. Certainly in our case, we were able to add a couple significant players right out of the gate.
Then with the stronger Canadian dollar, we're able to add some players during the regular season. But we felt all along that we had a team -- we had a good core group of guys, Smith and Smyth and Moreau and guys that any team in the league would love to have. We just had to supplement them with a few more guys, in this case, initially out of the gate, it happened to be Peca and Pronger; pretty good start. And then, you know, some other moves along the way.
And we've always had a team that could skate, and we really -- because of Craig's insistence and I suspect that I feel the same way, is that guys can think the game, and in the new NHL that's what you have to be able to do, you have to be able to skate and you have to be able to think the game and I think both teams have that.
Q. 1990 was the last time you went down this road with the Oilers and you were playing and now you're on the managerial side, what kind of kick is it for you guys?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: As it was with a player, the kick is always in hindsight. You get pretty focused, as you should be, on what you have to do to finish it off. You know how tough it is and how tough it's going to be to win it. So you want to make sure that you're busy and working and the kick is always reflecting back. It's been every bit as gratifying from my perspective as a coach as it was as a player.
Q. What kind of teammate was Rod Brind'Amour?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Consummate player. Just he was the second line center behind Eric, and maybe didn't get the type of opportunity that he's getting now in Carolina. And watching him play in these playoffs, I don't think I've ever seen him play better. Every situation, I mean, the game of hockey is an open-book test and you can just take a look at the ice time and the amount of ice time he gets in every situation to know the type of year that he's having; he takes faceoffs, he kills penalties, he's out there three on five, he's out there on power play, so there's not much -- there's very little that he can't do in the game. He was a terrific teammate.
Q. Brind'Amour, he's been around a long time; Wesley, fourth Cup he hasn't won; Recchi, another guy in the twilight of his career, you guys were together in New York in '94, a bunch of older guys who knew this might be their last shot, what does that mean when the game starts? What did you have over Vancouver and what do they have going for them?
KEVIN LOWE: We have the same -- I think what's going to make this series really exciting is there's great drama from both dressing rooms when you think of the guys, the older guys that we have, Vancouver, if you're going back to '94, they didn't have -- they didn't have the older players that hadn't had an opportunity to win before. I think there's going to be all kinds of story lines in this series, a lot of good ones. Let's hope that the Oilers are the final story line.
Q. Is Ryan Smyth the face of this franchise, and for Craig, how do you prepare for a team that you have not seen all year, particularly with the power play that's No. 1 in the playoffs so far in?
KEVIN LOWE: I talked about it earlier, Ryan to me, right down to when Glen Anderson ran over him in the parking lot in Banff when he was a kid and he got up smiling, "An ran over me." , He still wears Gretz's helmet and -- I told Ryan, Gretz chinked his stick half a dozen times but he still has Gretz's old pattern. He just loves the game. You see him all the time, he's on the ice first and is off the ice last and loves everything about the game.
What's neat for me is we've seen him grow up. He's a mature man and he's idolized by the kids in the city, like maybe only a few other Oilers, and he wears it well. He's deserving of it all.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: For us, just prepare the same way we always have in terms of just the video that we get. I mean, every team's got all those capabilities and we watch all the games and break down the video and take certain aspects, as you mentioned, the power play obviously is an element that is going to be very important in the success of this series and in our ability to their power play.
We've got the best penalty killing through the playoffs, facing, I'm sure everybody knows, the best power play, so it's going to be an integral matchup, for sure. We've faced some tough power plays along the way and our penalty killing is confident, as is their power play and it's one of the aspects of the game that's going to tell the tale.
Q. How difficult do you think this wait, this week has been for them?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Well, I don't think it's been difficult at all. I think that -- I mean, it's something that we've all looked forward to and we relish the opportunity. We practice hard but we needed to. With the players, you can only push them as hard as they were willing to be pushed. They were ready to practice, we had three good practice days in New York, a couple prior to that in Edmonton. So, we'll see. The first period will tell a lot in tomorrow's game. Obviously there are going to be some ramifications in terms of our readiness. Whether it's going to be, are we refreshed and energized or whether we're going to have a tough time adjusting to the quicker pace of the game, having been off for nine days.
So as a coach, I don't have an answer, and like everybody else, I'm interested to see tomorrow.
Q. Can you both talk about Ray Whitney as a kid, and also talk about his dad? Do you have any memories of Ray as a kid?
KEVIN LOWE: Yeah, he didn't spend too much time around me because I was one of those slow-footed defensive defensemen, which was probably a good thing for him. He hung around Gretzky and Messier a little more.
I think you can see in the passion that Ray has for the game, I don't know whether that was kindled in the Oilers dressing room or he had it, probably maybe even had it before, but his dad, Boyd was the most well known Whitney in Edmonton for years, for all his practice as the extra goalie for the Oilers and he also would do the behind-the-scene police work for us. He just did every job possible.
It's neat for us now that to see a guy like him talking and telling stories about his days in Edmonton as a stick boy and some of the other younger kids that have gone on in the NHL. A lot of people say that Brian Leetch was sort of the by-product of the Bruins, the heyday of the Bruins, and we'd like to think that the '80s Oilers have brought on another old group of hockey players, Joffrey Lupul in the past series and a guy like Ray Whitney.
Q. For those of us who live in Toronto, it's unusual to see a coach talking to players, and they showed the game on the CBC the other night with you going around from player to player in practice talking to each one of them. Is that just encouraged or something you noticed in practice?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Is there another way to get a message across? (Laughter) We call it dialogue.
Q. No. What kind of things are they, little things that each one of them needs to work on?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: "What did you have last night for dinner? Where are you going tonight?"
No, it's just hockey. Just talking hockey.
Q. Peter Laviolette was asked how he was going to shut down Fernando Pisani and I wonder if it strikes you as being odd if that would be something Peter would be asked? And talk about where he's come from and what he's delivered and maybe why you think he's been so successful in these playoffs.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Confidence I guess is the most important element of his game right now. He's right on top of his game from a confidence perspective. He's always had a lot of the elements that you need to have success. He's got a great shot, very complete player, and as I said in the last series, I've probably been guilty of holding him back, playing other guys in certain situations, trying to get them ice time in power play situations, where Fernando has maybe not gotten as much ice time as he's deserving. I'm giving it to him now and he's really reveling with it.
I guess he'd be an easy guy to underestimate, but you'd be making a mistake if you did.
Q. For Kevin, with all of the goalies available, what made the decision to get Dwayne Roloson? And for coach, how did you move Roloson into the lineup in the middle of the season?
KEVIN LOWE: Well, you're speculating that there's lots of goalies available. We really didn't think that we were going to get Dwayne Roloson given the fact that Minnesota and ourselves were close in the standings and both sort of fighting for the playoff spot. I guess knowing that Doug Risebrough does a good job and if we offered enough, that it would be wise for him to make a decision, and clearly they were going to go to Fernandez as their No. 1 guy, so he was going to move him.
No, Rolly has had the pedigree, he had been in the playoffs, had some experience. We heard that he was a battler and a real good team guy. His style of play is, the technical part of his game we liked. Statistics don't lie, he has always had a great save percentage. We are a team that gave up the fewest shots in the league, and we at times, quite frankly, over the course of the season, we just felt we needed one more save and we thought, you know, he could be the guy to do it.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Yeah, it was easy to integrate Rolly into the lineup. I can't remember how many games we had left, I think there was 16 games. He played in them all. He didn't play the last game, he played them all but the last game. Our first game with Rolly in the lineup was in San Jose, and that was maybe the worst game our team played all year long.
KEVIN LOWE: Well, we played a couple others. (Laughter).
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: It was just an onslaught. I'm sure Rolly was wondering what he got himself into when he saw the three-on-ones and the breakaways and the two-on-ones, for whatever reason, I don't know. We just thought that we were going to see just how good he was the first night or whatever the case may be. But we played terribly.
You know, it's tough for even veteran players, and speaking from experience, going where you've been on a team for a long period of time, going somewhere else, you're out of your element for a while. There's a certain adjustment period, and he definitely went through that. I mean, it wasn't as long as what a lot of people think it was. He played very well, four or five games in his stint as an Oiler. And it took him a while and now he's just thriving again. He's on top of his game confidence-wise. It's a made a seamless transition coming into our locker room, vintage Oiler from our perspective and playing very well.
Q. You said during the regular season you gave up very few shots on goal and in the playoffs you're giving up an average of 35 now, what gives?
KEVIN LOWE: It started with that game in San Jose. It's never let up. (Laughter). We want to see if Rolly can really play.
You know, I don't have -- that's probably more of a question for Mac. Certainly, our defensive game, this is probably the best this team has ever played in the 27 years of its history, and believe me, I know. Credit Mac and certainly credit the personnel, and Rolly is adding to that right now.
Q. For people in Raleigh, the greater Raleigh area, Edmonton is sort of a mystery, a lot of them don't really quite know where it is in Canada. I wonder what your perception is as residents of Edmonton. Do your fans know where the team has gone, are they in the hockey wilderness, do they understand?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: They know. They know exactly where Raleigh is right now. It's the center of the universe in Edmonton right now. They are very much aware of what's going on down here.
KEVIN LOWE: They are huge hockey fans. They probably know your team a lot better than your fans know our team, obviously, as you alluded to. Probably every one of them has come golfing here at some point in their lives.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: To get away from the blistering heat in Edmonton. (Laughter).
KEVIN LOWE: And they follow the playoffs. They follow all of the games besides -- they are hockey fans. They don't just watch the Oilers. They watch playoff hockey. And the Hurricanes have provided some pretty great playoff hockey.

End of FastScripts...

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297