|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
May 27, 2007
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA: Practice Day
FRANK BROWN: Questions.
Q. Bryan, could you talk a little bit about Martin Gerber and the evolution of this season as it relates to him?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: He's a lucky charm. I'd like to be in the Cup as often as he is.
All that happened to our team at the beginning of the year wasn't very good, or we didn't play very well. Maybe that's a better way to put it. Martin happened to be the goaltender at the moment.
And we couldn't find a way to get more than two goals a lot of nights. And if he gave up a questionable goal, we pointed the finger at him too quickly, probably.
We started to play a little better. Ray Emery got healthy, put him in the net. We won some games. He became the guy. It's pretty easy when you're coaching to - if a guy wins a game for you to play him the next night and that's what really happened. Martin's been a great soldier, ready if we had to play him at any time during the year.
He would have been good for us - I think he went 12 of his last 13 games he won. But I wasn't wise enough to put him back in. As a result he gets designated right now for the bench and Ray Emery plays.
Q. Bryan, during your time here in Anaheim you probably had a good inkling of Rob Niedermayer's relationship with his brother. Were you at all surprised that Scott wound up here?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No (laughter).
During my last year I had many phone calls from Lamoriello. I think the word on the street was - when I made the trade with Calgary, the word on the street was they wanted to finish their careers together. We had a pretty good inkling that that might happen.
Q. I read somewhere that - one of the clips here that you had compared last week the 1990 Oilers to this team. Can you talk me through -
JOHN MUCKLER: Not as far as personality is concerned. I think they're different personalities. Just things that happened. In 1990, we didn't have Grant Fuhr, we didn't have Paul Coffey. We didn't have Wayne Gretzky. I guess the comparable - not the comparable, what happened in Ottawa was we lost Marty Havlat through a trade and Chara went on, and other people got the opportunity to play. And they've played very well.
And I think this team has good depth to it. Like the Oilers had good depth. The Oilers had a year, we struggled during the regular season. I believe we were about maybe 10, 11, 12 games over 500.
We got down against Winnipeg three games to one in the first round. Came back to win it and went on to win a Stanley Cup.
And that's - our club got off to not a good start. We became a better hockey club, went into the playoffs. We've been sailing along pretty good. That's the comparables I like to use.
Q. Coach, you're on the road, you're taking on the Ducks, you haven't seen them all season. Do you go back to the composure your team showed in the post season, you know what you're going to have to get from the Ducks, you have to weather the storm early on?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: We know we have to respect every team we play. The league is that close at this point in time. And we understand that Anaheim are more than a good team. They're a very good hockey team, big, strong group. Good goaltending. We know, to begin with, the audience, the fans will be into it big time. There will be lots of emotion in the building, and we know we have to play well early.
But the good thing about our club, we've been able to do that, with maybe one exception in one of the games in Buffalo where they really came after us and we couldn't get the puck going very well.
But beyond that our team has handled it very well. And again we'll have another test tomorrow night early on, no doubt, and the fact we haven't played for a number of days will hopefully not come into play big time but we understand we'll have to be real smart to begin with.
Q. Bryan, Brian Burke talked about meeting you when he was playing in the NHL and you were going down to see Terry play. What do you recall first of meeting him and maybe describe your relationship with him?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Did we meet in a beer parlor or something? I'm not sure. I met Brian at that time. Terry was a good NHL player. They had a good team in Portland. That was my first occasion to run into him. But obviously over the years many times both as a guy who was a GM in this league and as a director of hockey operations, we had many conversations during those years.
Great respect. He's not afraid to take a chance, this guy. He steps up to the plate. He's made big trades in the league. He's not afraid to speak his mind. We all know that.
And people like that you have to respect. And he's done a real good job here. He's kind of put this team together, put a good coaching staff together in a hurry. And obviously it's paid great dividends for him.
Q. Two questions. First one, in all three series you've played so far, you've dominated the opening period of Game 1. Did that in any way set a tone for the series, or was just that one period of one game?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think it's one period of one game. It's a nice way to start. I think it sends a little bit of a message, not to the other team but to your own team that you can go out and play well and you have a little confidence going forward and that's helped us a great deal.
Q. You've had three very different teams along the way. What about is it about a team that allows it to produce similar results against different oppositions?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Again, the whole key is you just have to have your own team going, and New Jersey we know played more defense and more matchups. But every game has been very close. We played well against them. Our big players were able to match and do a good job against the Madden line. Against Buffalo we knew we were going to play a quick team of active defensemen. We were able to do a good job because of our skating ability there.
But I think the biggest thing of all, we have some guys that are composed in their play. We've got good leadership in Alfredsson, Phillips, Redden, people that have stepped up big time for us, and everyone else then has a chance to follow. To this point in time they've done that.
Q. People have talked about how Chris Neil has kind of broadened his game after the newness came in, what is your view of his progress?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: He might be on our team one of the most improved if not the most improved player. I didn't know him real well when I was out here. I knew him as a tough kid and a very competitive kid. But he's a player now. He plays in all situations. He doesn't kill penalties. The odd time I put him on the power play. But his hands are real good. His effort is really, really good. He's a tough kid still. He knows the game, understands how to play. He's a player. And that's all I can say. And he's a good player.
Q. Bryan, you've probably watched a lot of tape of J.S. Giguere. He looks as big to me as he did in 2004, even though I know the equipment has shrunk. What do you see when you see tape of this big guy guarding the net?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Obviously I have to complain to the league about it. (Laughing). He's a big player. He's really adjusted his game. I think when I was here he was totally a down butterfly goaltender. He's spread out more. He looks bigger in the net. He's adjusted to the pace as a goaltender has because of the lateral passes that are able to happen more often now.
I think he's matured as a goaltender and I think he'll continue to improve. The thing about J.S., and I remember at the time, Francois Labbe was here with him. But a hardworking, competitive guy that just wants to get better. If we can get his equipment in good order, everything will be fine with him.
Q. Dany Heatley came in off a difficult situation in Atlanta, put together two really solid seasons for you guys. Can you talk about how he's evolved since he first came to Ottawa?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: John can probably talk more to why the trade was made. We saw and John saw something real big time in this kid. And he's worked real hard at this game. And I think the change that sort of started with the team got better this year. He was a real good player for us last year, but I think his determination to become a good two-way player really took effect in November/December area. And I think he's a real dynamic player with the puck and a real good player without the puck.
I don't know that I would have said that every day last year. But he's certainly become that.
Q. John, do you want to follow up on that?
JOHN MUCKLER: I didn't hear the first question.
Q. Just bringing Dany in, obviously he wanted to change and came to Ottawa, how he's evolved in the time you've had him.
JOHN MUCKLER: Dany has really improved over the years, couple years he's been with our organization after going through a tough time. It's a trade that had to be made. We traded Hossa, which he is an outstanding player in the National Hockey League, because of the necessity and it's called the Cap System. If we hadn't have made that deal we would not have either one of the players today.
Hossa was going to be nonrestricted free agent one year beyond when he signed the contract. We didn't make the deal for Dany. He signed a three-year contract. And he's just been a delight to work with. As Bryan said, he's improved. I think Bryan has done a wonderful job with him in explaining how the game should be played as far as the team concepts are concerned and being an overall hockey player, which he is now.
I felt that when he first came to us he was more of a goal scorer than anything else. Now he's a complete hockey player, taking on every responsibility that he has to take on to be a really good player in the National Hockey League.
Q. Bryan, talk about your team when it starts off and focus on the top line that you have, talk about the Ducks, Niedermayer, Pronger, Giguere, do you think that's where this year will be decided on those two sides or other areas?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think when you get to this stage, there's a lot of areas. And it can't just be your top line or your top two defensemen. It's got to be more people involved. Goaltending is going to be a factor no doubt. Depth is going to be a factor.
The way we play the game, make adjustments within the series is going to be a factor. So there's a whole group of things that I wouldn't like to think that if we didn't score a goal with our top line tomorrow night we didn't have a chance to win. I think we do. It's just a matter of other people getting a chance to step up, and I believe they will.
Q. Bryan, when you take us back to when you're the Duck GM and you made that Comrie deal that went sideways and what kind of player you kind of view Comrie as then and the irony in how you view him now?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, I knew Mike wanted to move out of Edmonton. He wasn't playing at the time. We talked about a deal in length. We thought we were real close to finishing the deal. It didn't happen.
I viewed him as a guy - at that time we had a great year and then we didn't have a very good year the next year. We were looking for some immediate offense. And we thought Mike could come in and do that.
It didn't happen. I'm sure Brian Burke would say today he's happy it didn't happen. We traded for Mike Comrie. We looked at him at that time - we had a lot of injuries. John made the acquisition. He came in. We plugged him into the right side. First couple of days I didn't like him very much because he hadn't played there.
I didn't think he competed enough without the puck. Very good with the puck. One conversation turned this guy into - he understood what he had to do. And he has become a very, very important player in this hockey team. He plays right wing, which is not normal for him. Or it hadn't been.
Made a nice adjustment. Has the puck a lot. He's a threat now offensively, but the biggest thing that's happened to Mike is that he's become a real solid two-way candidate. And we played that line against good lines on the other team and they were more than good against him.
So good NHL player.
Q. He's not the same kind of player that you thought you were going to get?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: He was more - when we first felt we were getting here, we thought he would come in be a goal scorer and a threat offensively knowing full well that he wasn't the best guy in his own end at that time.
But even he's surprised me the way he's taking to playing the right side and taking pucks off the wall and taking a hit once in a while to make a play.
So, again, a real good acquisition for us.
Q. Bryan, two questions here. First one kind of housekeeping. Playing the 5:00 start tomorrow, which I don't think your club has done this year, may have, does that change anything when you skate tomorrow? How do you approach that?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: First of all, we won't skate. It's 8:00 for us. We're just changing our clocks for a couple of days only here. So we'll keep on a somewhat normal timetable. But I don't think anything other than the guys understand they have to come in early if they want anything done with the trainers.
They have to eat a little earlier hour. But beyond that I think we'll be fine to play. People have to make adjustments in this league if you're going to be competitive, and we'll make the adjustment.
Q. Bryan, life changes, calendars turn -
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: We get older.
Q. After all this time, do you still have a sense of parentage and pride about this franchise here?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Of course. I've said this many times. It was very, very difficult decision to leave. John gave me an opportunity to go back to my home area and to coach a good hockey team. I had great friends here. People in the office and the scouts and that that I was either involved in bringing here or working with.
And that was as tough as leaving the team, just knowing full well that you affected some of their lives as well and I did. And I feel awful about that.
But it was an opportunity for me to go back and it was an opportunity, I felt, to leave this organization in real good shape. There were a lot of kids coming. I had been allowed to spend a little money to get a couple free agents that ended up being good NHL players. I thought our staff really drafted well.
So I am very proud watching the games. I was very proud the way some of these kids have developed and become the level of player they've become.
Q. John, Daniel Alfredsson's seen all kinds of press over the years. But here's Daniel Alfredsson now in the Cup Final. Can you talk about why it's important to make a commitment to identity values like Daniel Alfredsson and why it's so important to hang onto guys like that?
JOHN MUCKLER: Well, I think Daniel has made a commitment to the organization. We had signed - I think it was approximately two years ago, we signed Alfredsson to a five-year contract that also has three one-year options in the contract, too.
I think it was one of the - not one of the moves but the best move I've made as a general manager in Ottawa as far as I was concerned. Alfy was looking for security. We could give that to him. Everybody knows our community is not a large community. And at that particular time we were working under a smaller budget than we had been at this present day.
The Cap System came along, we've been so far working at the max pretty well. But Alfy was so helpful and was proud of the organization, like we were proud of him. He wanted to be a Senator for the rest of his career. And we were happy to oblige him.
And he's been a tremendous leader. Like everybody else, I think we had to learn how we're going to get to where we are today. We had to gain a lot of experience, and our hockey club is always accused of not having good leadership.
That's something that you have to go into and you have to put in years in the National Hockey League to be experienced enough to do that. Alfy has certainly done that.
And I've played with - not played with, but I've coached some good leaders in this NHL, and one was Mark Messier and Alfredsson leading the hockey club par with Mark.
Q. Bryan, this is more from a matchup standpoint. Can you talk about the comparison of your 6 D as far as quality and depth that you have there as opposed to the Ducks and Niedermayer and Pronger? And also does that depth give you some options to play around with as far as guarding against their two top-scoring lines?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, we have players that play. We allow our 6 D to play a lot of minutes in the game. We have a couple of shut-down guys or we like to be against the best scoring line on the other team. I watch the team but until you get into the game start to play, I'm not sure how Randy's going to control the matchup with our best line with this pair of D. But I know they're big and strong and they've got four or five guys there that play pretty well.
I think when you get into the heart of a hockey game and heart of a series he's going to have to and will play a variety of people at different times. I feel comfortable playing my players because I make a point and I've made a point all year playing four lines as best I could and six defensemen as best I could, and I've always felt if you got to the playoffs if you're getting a break at all that will pay dividends.
And so far this year that has happened.
Q. Can you talk about Volchenkov's evolution as a shot blocker and was there something you said to him or something he wanted to do, and two, is your team blocking shots affecting other teams' play from shots from the point or whatnot?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I hope it was something I said to him, but I don't think so. I think it was opportunity. I think John had mentioned when we lost Chara, we looked at Anton last year as probably a number five. And we played him a lot of times that way.
But he got an opportunity to play more minutes, playing the top pair or top defense pair at any rate and he took advantage of the opportunity as people - players often do. And he's emerged as a top guy. And he is a leader in blocking shots. He does a real good job. He's fearless. He gets in the lane real well.
But by him doing it it's helped other guys I think recognize that we should sacrifice in that area a little bit. So I would say there's a leader in that particular area, Anton has really done a job.
Q. Does it make your team change shots?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I hope - again, the game is so different now in the last 10 years as far as the equipment and that, that people have to shoot off the net now. They have to look for redirections. They have to look for other ways of scoring because the lanes are filled up more than ever for the defense.
We've given them a little more room at the top. We have two feet to the zone or whatever we added. We take it away with the ability to shot block.
FRANK BROWN: Thank you, gentlemen.
Q. You guys seemed pretty loose out there on the ice today. I'm wondering if it's been that way through the playoffs, and see a benefit to maybe being loose rather than gripping the sticks a little too tight tomorrow?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I'm sure we'll be more nervous tomorrow than we were today. But I thought we had a sharp practice today. It was pretty intense. But after we're done I think we've been a pretty loose bunch.
But I think we've been waiting for this for over a week and we're ready.
Q. Any or all of you, with the long layoff, when you have to account for the 5:00 start as well, too, but it's also the three-hour time difference. Is anybody worried about this going into the game that after two days body clocks might kick into California time and start to sleep?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Most of our team don't sleep before midnight no matter what anyway. So I don't think that's an issue at all. I think we know how to prepare. All three of us were in the league last year, six-hour time difference. You're used to it. You adjust. We're in the Finals and you just do what you have to do to get ready. So that's not a problem.
Q. So much has been made over the years of this team underachieving and you've earned that label as well. Can you tell us how it was difficult for you to deal with at the time and how sweet it is now that you've got to this point?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: We've had some disappointments. But people talk, it seems like every year has been a disappointment to us, but I don't think that's the case at all. We've had some really good seasons. We've had some disappointments in the playoffs. We haven't played to our potential, but every year it's a new year. It's an opportunity. You always think that year is your year. That was no different this year.
But obviously we've really pulled together as a team here and played real consistent I think and that's the reason we're here.
Q. How about for you personally? You personally going through all that time now getting to this point?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, it feels great. I mean playing a team sport, being a part of something that we're doing now, it's the best feeling. It's tough to describe. But we know the reception we've had at home games and when we play at home in the playoffs, it's a feeling that I know personally I'm going to take with me forever.
Q. You guys have seen the best players from the three teams you've played in the East and nobody has been able to stop your line. What kind of different challenges do Pronger and possibly Niedermayer pose against you guys?
DANY HEATLEY: I don't think - obviously we respect - they're two of the best in the league, no question. But I think what's made us successful is our team game and the way we've gone about sticking to our game plan. And I think the three of us have done that. I think no matter who the defense is, I think if you make the game hard on them and put pucks in the right spots and get a good forecheck on them, I think that's been the key to our success and that can't change against those two.
Q. Alfy, Samuel Pahlsson's line has played extremely well as a shutdown unit through the playoffs. Asking today about matching up against your line and what is it going to be like, he said, Frankly, I don't know we've never played them before and only seen scouting material. Does that give the offense an advantage or the defensive player?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I'll tell you tomorrow night. I don't know either. (Smiling) I don't think there's really an advantage to either side. Samuel obviously had a very good year as a shutdown guy, being nominated for the Selke Trophy and I've played with him myself.
He's a good player. I think we asked the line if we move the puck, move our feet, I think we can create chances that way. But I guess any time in the playoffs the further you get the tougher it gets.
Q. Jason, I'll ask you this question. There's a lot in the media in the last week about you guys having a chance to bring the Cup home to Canada, first time in 14 years. Is that really media-driven hype or do you actually think about that yourself being a Canada guy - I'm not sure how old you were when Montreal won in '93. Do you think that will be neat when you think of that stuff?
JASON SPEZZA: Definitely we're hockey historians also. Playing for a Canadian team, the passion for the game year-round and throughout the year, seeing disappointment by people when we do lose and I think having the opportunity to bring a Cup back to Canada and become Canada's team is definitely another driving reason for us to try and win.
I think first and foremost we want to try to win for the guys in the dressing room, for each other, but there's definitely a little more behind it playing for a Canadian team.
DANY HEATLEY: I think he was 10 years old (laughter).
Q. Dany, you came into Ottawa after tough circumstances and a couple of seasons put up terrific numbers, been embraced by the community, now you're in the Finals. What has that experience been like?
DANY HEATLEY: It's been a lot of fun, from the day I got to Ottawa, people have treated me great. The organization has been great. And it's just a great room to walk into. I think there's quality guys in that room, all great guys.
And it's a group where I don't know if most teams do it but usually you go for dinner with your four or five guys. But this is a team where everyone sticks together and everyone hangs out together.
And it's just been a lot of fun to be a part of. And be a part of going to the Finals with them?
Q. Could you have imagined just in a couple of short seasons how things have really turned around for you in all aspects?
DANY HEATLEY: It felt good coming in. I think there was too much made of what went on in the lockout and before that I think I felt I was ready to go from the time I got here. And it's been - again, like I say, it's just been a lot of fun.
Q. You guys have faced - the matchups you faced in the three rounds have been very different. Samuel Pahlsson was saying they're not expected to score goals. They're told don't cheat, don't cheat, don't cheat all the time, that direction. What do you think you have to do to - do you think this is the toughest challenge you'll face and what do you do to get past these guys?
JASON SPEZZA: I think being in the Finals, we expect it to be the toughest challenge we face. But as a unit, all year, whenever we've played together, I think that we always have to face against the other team's checking lines. We always faced the tough defensemen. The stakes are a little bit more and there's a little more going on in the games. But it's pretty much the same situation. So we expect they're not going to take many chances and we know that we have to try and create things ourselves because of the fact they're not going to take chances.
We feel like we move and when we get pucks deep, like you guys said, we're cycling the puck, it shouldn't matter who we're playing against. It's more up to us.
Q. This is for all three of you guys. I understand you've been referred to as the pizza line at some points this year. I was wondering if you like that name or you think maybe you guys deserve another name?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I don't like the name (laughter). It's as loud as our crowd got this season was when we're going for the pizza goals. I think that's where it came about.
DANY HEATLEY: I like the cash line (laughter).
Q. Is that what you call each other?
FRANK BROWN: Gentlemen, thank you.
Q. You guys were very loose out there today. A lot of joking around, there's work to be done that you were doing. But is that a product of just being off for so long or you don't want to grip the sticks too tight? Any of you guys can answer that.
CHRIS PHILLIPS: I think that's the way we've been going all along, even all season. Even when we're working hard and having hard practices, we're having fun out there. And I think that's a big reason why we're in this position right now.
Q. Chris, just playing with Volchenkov and the evolution of him being the preeminent shot blocker on this team, is it something that almost guilts you guys into blocking shots, the rest of you on defense?
CHRIS PHILLIPS: I think that's a good way of putting it. You see some of the shots he gets in front of. It's a lot of times shots from far out that he's down and could easily be hitting him in the face. I think he just hopes that it gets him into his chest or legs. But he really is just fearless. He'll get in front of everything.
Like you said, you see him get back up. He's out there every day, whether it's optional or not, he's on the ice. And to see that you can make it through that I think has pushed or showed a lot of guys how to do it. And you're going to be okay.
Q. Does he affect your save percentage?
RAY EMERY: He's got a better save percentage than I do, I think. I mean, it's great for me. He not only blocks shots that, you know, are kind of point shots and like the normal blocked shot, but he, like, makes saves where there's an empty net, back-door passes, things like that. So it's great for me having a guy like that is so good at doing that and can read the plays so well and kind of select when to do that and when to maybe fall off and play the regular defense or whatever. He's really good at reading the play.
Q. You've played Buffalo so many times during the season's division round. What does it bring to the mix playing a team you haven't seen this year?
RAY EMERY: It's a bit different preparing for Anaheim. Personally I haven't seen them that much. So I've watched tape and kind of tried to follow towards the end of their series with Detroit. But definitely it will be a bit of a feeling-out process for myself and I'm sure it will be the same for them.
Q. Ray, just a question, what does it mean to you to be in the Stanley Cup Finals and also do you feel that some of the tension that's been played on you off the ice overshadows your play on the ice?
RAY EMERY: It feels great to have went this far with the group of guys that we have. I think we're a very close team. And a lot of our success is because we want to win for each other.
But I guess I got a lot of attention for being a bit different off the ice. And it doesn't really bother me as long as we continue to win hockey games.
Q. Chris, you've been playing for a few years. How did it feel to arrive in Southern California knowing you were going to play in the Stanley Cup?
CHRIS PHILLIPS: It was exciting, having that many days off, not having any other hockey to watch while we were resting this time.
The excitement of it sort of fell off. We were resting up and practicing, but it's certainly a different feeling once we got here, especially today with the media that's around today and just the hype building up around the games.
Q. This is for Chris. With the series with its own challenges, what do you see as the challenges that are sort of specific to Anaheim? Is it the physicality? What do you see that this team presents that maybe you guys haven't seen as much in the first three rounds?
MIKE FISHER: I think definitely they're the most physical team we'll face. I think we're a physical team ourselves. We can play that type of hockey. I think they're a pretty deep team, that they're good checking. They've probably got the best - well, two defensemen we face, and they play their top four obviously a lot. So we're going to have to make sure we're using our speed, just keep coming at them. They're well rounded. Good goaltending. They're similar to us and we expect it to be tough and hard battling in all zones and physical and fun.
CHRIS PHILLIPS: I agree with Mike (laughter).
Q. You had some great battles with Scott Niedermayer when he was over in New Jersey. As you look at his game, do you have to almost get away from the situation to appreciate him as a great player? Seemed like he got overshadowed by the system or Scott Stevens or whoever. Seems to have gotten more appreciation for his game since he's been out here the last couple of years.
CHRIS PHILLIPS: If he has, rightfully so. He's a great player. He's one of those guys that maybe gets overshadowed because he's maybe not a flashy type player. He's just smooth and makes the game look easy in a lot of areas. And that's why he's nominated for the top defenseman and has had a great career.
Q. Ray, can you talk to me about the cockroach incident and also do you enjoy being different like off the ice?
RAY EMERY: The cockroach was in the dressing room in Carolina. The boys had some money up who would eat the cockroach. So I ate the cockroach.
MIKE FISHER: How did it taste?
RAY EMERY: It was all right (laughter).
I guess I'm a bit different. I'm interested in a ton of different things. I tend to kind of leave the game at the rink just because that's how I deal with things. When I'm at the rink I enjoy being there. In order to appreciate it more I kind of try to mix it up a bit in what I'm interested in and what I do away from the rink.
I guess I've gotten some attention for just being different with boxing or what I wear or different things like that.
FRANK BROWN: Gentlemen, thank you.
End of FastScripts