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May 27, 2010

Stan Bowman

Joel Quenneville


JAMEY HORAN: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the United Center and the 2010 Stanley Cup Final pre-series media availability. Also would like to welcome everyone watching on the NHL Network and NHL.COM. We will kick things off with availability from Coach Joel Quenneville and General Manager Stan Bowman. We'll take questions for either gentlemen. Please direct your question to either Stan or Joel. If you have a question, please raise your hand and wait for the mike. And we will take questions now.

Q. Joel, I was wondering with all your past relationship with coaching Chris Pronger if that gives you any special insight on how to combat him in the series.
COACH QUENNEVILLE: We are fortunate to coach Pronger for a while there. We know he's a special player. He's a smart player. His reads are very intelligent. His anticipation is high end. His puck possession and play making is like a quality forward.
And I just think that he's playing a lot of minutes. He's playing well. I think that as team we want to make sure we try to get him to defend and play in their end and try to work him in that way.
But he's a big part of their team, a big part of their success. I don't know if there's any advantage to that. I think everybody has an awareness of how effective he is as a player. We want to make him sure he has to defend more than play in the offensive zone.

Q. Joel, I want to ask about Jonathan Toews. What he's done on the ice is very evident. What has he done for the team and are you surprised at his ability to lead at just 22 years old?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: He's a special player. You have an appreciation for what he does. The way he approaches on the ice, the practice, the morning skate to the games. He seems to improve and get better with each and every season, each and every opportunity.
Exactly the same approach over the course of the year to the end of the year. He rises to the occasion. The bigger the stage, the bigger the game. But his consistency is what we like. And his predicability in his game is in place. I've been around a couple of quality players at a young age that turn in great players over time considered Joe Sakic kind of reminds me of a young Jonathan Toews where each and every game they're there for the guys.
They don't say a lot, but they lead by how they play. I think Johnny represents exactly the type of leadership any team would love to have. We're fortunate to have him.
JAMEY HORAN: Question for Stan.

Q. Stan, what are your memories of Michael Leighton?
STAN BOWMAN: Michael was with us for a while, actually. He was in our system, and he played some games in Chicago as well. We actually had Craig Anderson and Michael Leighton together in Norfolk for a number of years. They both turned out to be good NHL goaltenders.
Michael is on quite a run here. He's a big guy, obviously. He takes up a lot of the net. And I think he developed maybe a little bit later which some of the goaltenders do. I think the key for us right now is we have to recognize that he's really on a hot streak. He's got the size, which I think you have to have in the game today. You know, at the end of the day it's no different than any other goalie. If they can't see the puck, they have a hard time stopping it. We have to keep playing our game.
We've faced some great goalies already. Michael is on a hot streak here. He's not going to be any easier than they've been. If we keep playing our game, hopefully we can get around that.

Q. Stan, what do you recall being the thought process when essentially you replaced Havlak with Hossa last early July? Was it in terms of half let contract talks fell apart and you went to plan B?
STAN BOWMAN: I think with Marian, we were planning for the off season last year. Right around this time. As we were winding down the series against the Red Wings and trying to decide what we were going to do. We realized that Hossa was the best player that could be available. We weren't sure how that was going to play out, if he was going to hit the market or not. But we knew if he did we wanted to make a strong push for him.
His record speaks for itself in terms of his performance over a long period of years. He's been a consistent performer. I think more than anything, though, he played a style that we were trying to instill in some of our younger guys, which is he plays both ends of the ice. And I think we've seen that in the playoffs here. He's contributed offensively, but I think when you watch the game closely, you notice that he does all those little things so well. And I think it has rubbed off on some of our younger players. We got a lot of talented young offensive guys here. You want them to be surrounded by players that play hockey the right way.
I'm sure Joel would agree with that that it's not always easy to get your most skilled players to play as hard as Marian does away from the puck and coming back in his own end. So we knew if we ever had a chance to get a player like him, we would really have to make a hard push. I think he saw what was going on here with our team, and hockey has changed quite a bit in Chicago over the last couple of years. You know, looking at the way things -- when Rocky took over a couple of years back and decided to bring John McDonough in, that was a big move for ourselves. You see the difference that it's made, people who have been around Chicago for a long time. It's a totally different feel now.
I think we've been able to change dynamics of our hockey team. And we've been steadily increasing; and then when you match that with what happened off the ice, I think, you know, Hossa has commented before that that all played into his decision, that he saw the direction we were heading under the leadership, and it's gotten us to the point where we're at now.

Q. Joel, it's been -- we often talk about players taking a long time to get to a Cup Final. It's taken you some time too. I wonder if you have a chance to think about what it means for you to be here and have this opportunity that you haven't had before.
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Well, I did win the Cup in '96 with Colorado. That was -- when you do win a championship, you can't wait to do it again. It has been a long time since then. And I think as a head coach, you always dream about the position we're in. You always look to the beginning of the season you hope, you envision yourself in this position as well.
But I felt very fortunate to be here in Chicago last year. At the right time at the right moment of having a young group and a special opportunity.
I think the guys are all very appreciative of being here at the same time. Lucky we are about playing in a special opportunity in the city that has embraced the team. The ownership, the leadership has been tremendous as far as the support we have.
I thought that as a group we got better as the year went on last year. I think we learned a lot by what happened last year in the Playoffs. I think we tried to apply that message in the last round against San Jose. I thought we did a nice job in that area.
We've added some leadership as well in the off season with Hossa and John Madden and the experience that the guys we have had last year put us in a position where we should be all excited about what's ahead of us, and I think being a player or a coach we should all feel the same about something special is ahead of us. We would love to accomplish that at the end of the day knowing, I'm sure Philly has the same envisions, the same opportunity.
But at the same time the pieces have been in place, and I think the guys are welcoming the challenge and are looking forward to something to be a great accomplishment.

Q. On this long wait for the franchise, 61, Joel, you may have been not too old at that point. But just what you guys think about trying to do something, for example, the Rangers took 50 years to do. And also regarding Dustin Byfuglien, how you handle his weight and how he handles it when it comes to being effective with it?
STAN BOWMAN: I think with Buff, a lot of times people talk about his weight. But I think we get sidetracked on that. It's not so much what he weighs. It's him being a factor and a force in the game. I think we've seen it in the Playoffs in the last two rounds, in particular. Starting in the Nashville Series, that he's a dominant player when he plays that way. We're focused on getting him to continue that. He's a big guy that takes up a lot of space. But he has a lot of talent as well.
It's one thing to be big, there's a lot of guys in the league that are big, but he can do things that those guys can't do. He can play with talented players.
So he's certainly been a difference-maker. In terms of the weight, I've lived here for a while in Philly, and I know that the fans here have been tremendous support, looking for that Cup again. They've wanted a competitive team for a long time here, and I think you've seen the transformation of our franchise in the city. It's really remarkable to look around at how they've embraced this team. It's an exciting team to watch, an exciting team to cheer for. I think they also recognize the differences have been made since Rocky took over. We've tried to make this a whole organization that is dedicated to the fans that support us so much.
You try to be fan-friendly. Like I said, when Rocky made the decision to bring John McDonough aboard, it was important that we kind of change the way things were approached here. The fans really believe in that. Because it's a different approach we've tried to take. The excitement that you guys can see here in the city, it's evident. You walk around anywhere, you see Blackhawks things. This building is so loud, starting with that National Anthem. It's a great tradition in all of sports to see the fans get behind the team that way. It's really special to be part of it.
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Just on Buff there, I think as a coach not too many players can make an impact the way he has over the last couple of rounds. He's done an amazing job. Started out the beginning of the Playoffs he was playing defense for us. Probably had an inconsistent season compared to the way he's played now. I think that's probably been the MO on Buff throughout his career. I think one thing you can do, you try to monitor his conditioning. But at the same time he's a special player. Not too many big men have the hands or the patience with the puck or the shot that he possesses.
I just think he knows where to go to get rewarded, and he's quicker than you think. I think he's really shown it in all aspects of his game right now. He's been a real factor for him.

Q. '61 the last time they won the Cup?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: I was a youngster back in the day. We were all very fortunate to be here today. I know that the city has been very supportive and they've embraced us in a lot of ways. And I think Stan alluded to a lot of the things that make it special to be here. John McDonough and Rocky and the whole organization has been tremendous as far as the way we get treated as players and coaches, and I think everything has been first class.
I think that it would be -- it will be a great achievement for everybody, I think the city will go wild and crazy. I think we're all -- I guess we're all in this position right now we get to enjoy the excitement that's in Chicago. We should all feel it. It's been special, whether you're out in the streets or you're just about every day coming to the rink, you can feel it, you sense it. I think everybody is having a great time with what's going on right now.

Q. Joel, you've touched on Byfuglien and Pronger. Are you excited about seeing the two of them collide out there on the ice?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: They'll probably see a lot of each other. Prongs plays a lot of minutes, and Buff will be playing with Johnny and Kaner. We'll see a lot of Prongs. Two big-bodied guys. They both play a little different game.
But at the same time you know where they're going to end up. So that should be a great matchup. It will be a great test. Prongs is a smart player. Buff is not going to be easy to play against. I'm sure that will get a lot of scrutiny as the Playoffs unfold.

Q. Joel, can you talk about how you approached your two young stars when you got here? How is your way of coaching them, was it parental, was it with the ups and downs you had to be patient with them? And Stan, if you could also talk about when Patrick Kane came here, why you took him in under your wing. He lived with you, things like that. What you wanted to see out of him.
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Well, when I first came here, I think we had a lot of young players. And I think initially everybody was receptive to not -- to me basically just welcome the guys as far as how we wanted to play as a team. I think that was a priority. I think we let everybody evolve as players, and immediately I knew they were special players and there was a lot of ability, a lot of skill. And kind of let things play themselves out, initially. I think right off the get-go, I think Johnny's game was just okay. And I think he started feeling a little bit comfortable with his game and he progressed. I think we made a couple of changes in how we wanted to play in our own end. Other than that, we didn't change too much of our approach.
I think initially with the coaching change, I think it was probably a little bit, you know, something to think about for the youngsters. And at the same time we didn't really want to change just the focus of these two guys. And I think at the end of the day their progression as players was exactly what we were hoping the way they would play the rest of the season, the rest of the Playoffs, their careers, the development has been in the right areas.
I think Kaner has improved defensively. I think Johnny just keeps getting better and better. I think their growth is as being top players is in the right place. And as an organization, we should all feel very fortunate to have the two great players in that type of fashion in the same two great people as well.
STAN BOWMAN: You know, I remember back when Patrick was drafted. He was from Buffalo, obviously I grew up in Buffalo. I didn't know him, though. I met him once prior to us drafting him. My father knew the family a little bit. I remember he came to training camp in September of that year. And as the camp wore on, internally we knew he was going to be on our team.
So we started thinking he was only 18 years old at the time. We were trying to decide what do we want to do. Because it's not an easy thing for a kid of that age to be in a big city like Chicago.
So some different ideas were tossed around. I remember we went to him in early October, and we asked him about the living situation. His answer to us was interesting. He said I'm just trying to make the team here. I don't even want to talk about. I'll live in a hotel all year if I have to. I want to play in the NHL. At the time he wasn't -- he was concerned about maybe getting sent back to Junior. So he didn't even want to talk about it.
Then the season began, and at that point it was actually just -- it was an idea, because he had been in the hotel for six weeks at that point. I said why don't you come over, maybe stay at my place for a bit, have a couple of home-cooked meals. And so he agreed to that, and we were into the season by that point.
So he seemed to enjoy it. I have two little boys. He was living in the basement. He was an unassuming little kid, just trying to make the team and stay in the NHL. There was still talk, even when the season began, are they going to keep him past the ten-game mark or are they going to send him back?
He was so focused on staying in the NHL. We knew he wasn't going anywhere. We wanted to kind of keep that away from him. We let him think about that, and before you knew it, it was the end of October. I think he was the Rookie of the Month that year. He had a great start to his career.
So it just kind of took off from there. He was comfortable. I remember talking to him and his parents along the way, and they just wanted to allow him to focus on hockey and not have to worry about what it's like to be living on your own. That was how it all materialized. It was a great experience for him and for me to get to know him. He's a special player. He's a great kid. I know him very well. And he's played a big part in getting our team to where we're at.

Q. Stan, you already touched on this. Joel, can you describe the effect Rocky Wirtz has had both on you and this franchise?
COACH QUENNEVILLE: Rocky has done an amazing thing here in Chicago. I think initially with -- I think the greatest move right off the bat was hiring John McDonough as far as getting the way the things have been changed as far as getting the TV back on. Where all the road games are being televised. The focus of the Blackhawks in the community, the excitement that's coming to a Blackhawks game. I can recall not too long ago coaching St. Louis where you come in here 4 or 5,000 people in the building.
It was a grim evening where almost you felt like they were supporting the visiting team. Things changed quickly. It's an amazing transformation. But you have to give Rocky a lot of credit that he changed things from the way things used to be. Along with John, I think that we're the beneficiaries today.

Q. Stan and Joel, I have a question. You made a major trade mid-season, Stan. It's obvious Kim Johansson is not going to play in these Finals. Can you elaborate about his injury and his decision to be not around the team. And Joel, real quick about Buff in the middle. Is it easier than in previous years, I guess before the lock-out, for a guy to get position and stay there and do what he has to do?
STAN BOWMAN: We don't really talk about injuries. We haven't done that. It's not a good time to start now. When guys are injured, they're not available to play. That's that. Unfortunately, that's a part of the game, though. We see it night after night, guys go down with different injuries. It's unfortunate, but it's part of hockey. You deal with it and you move on with the guys that are healthy.
COACH QUENNEVILLE: As far as Buff, going back up front was an easy move when Soupy came back. It gave us some options of him being a big-bodied guy. I think he immediately made an impact of creating traffic at the net. A big-bodied guy that can hit and can create some space down there. Another concern for their defense. At the same time, Soupy coming back really helped alleviate some of our defensive concerns coming into that -- going into that Nashville Series, and he immediately changed a lot of our looks as a team, more of a puck possession, more of an attack game.
I think Buff moved right back up back up as a forward seamlessly. It's a great option having him being able to go back in the blue line. I think him moving back up front, he's gotten to a different level.
JAMEY HORAN: Thank you, gentlemen.

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