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May 31, 2011

Mike Gillis

Alain Vigneault


THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Alain Vigneault and Mike Gillis.

Q. Mike, when you were assembling this team, did you want to have the balance where you could either play offense or defense because you can dominate the way either way? Alain, coaching that style, is it a matter of guys buying into the mentality of that?
MIKE GILLIS: Well, we got focused on defense initially. I spent three years trying to get the best defense we could assemble so we could play any style of game. We wanted puck-moving defensemen who could join the rush.
That was the style of game we decided upon. We went about trying to find those players that could complement it. Have to give Alain and his staff credit because they implemented a system that utilizes that type of player. That's what we went about doing.
COACH VIGNEAULT: I don't think in today's NHL anybody dominates. I think you got to work real hard to win every game. That's what we've tried to do.
We've tried to play the right way all year long, which is having a good balance between good team defense and good team offense when it's time to go on the attack, when it's appropriate.
It's a very competitive league. 30 good teams. It's real hard to win.

Q. Mike, do you have an update on Manny missing practice, whether there's a setback here at all?
MIKE GILLIS: Manny is doing as well as we could have possibly hoped based on the injury that he had and the procedures he's gone through.
This has been a day-to-day thing all along. He hasn't been cleared to play yet. He was cleared for some contact. He gets monitored every day. Today was a day where they felt it would be best if he stayed away for today. He'll be back around the team again tomorrow, we anticipate.
We have to be really patient with this. We have to rein him in a little bit because he's very enthusiastic, as you know. It's up to us to try to be as responsible as we possibly can be with his best interests in mind.
When he's cleared to play, play in the NHL, you'll see him with the team. Until that point, we'll take it day to day and monitor it day to day.
It's part of the ongoing plan that he's had from the date of the injury.

Q. Mike, in last year's Stanley Cup final we saw two teams get there with not exactly marquee goaltenders. In the off-season it seemed like some teams decided they could get by with a goaltending tandem. What did you see in the off-season with goaltenders, and your philosophy in signing Roberto to the contract you did?
MIKE GILLIS: I still feel Roberto, no disrespect to Tim because he's a great goaltender, but we felt that Roberto was the best goaltender in the league. There were some things that we needed to change.
We made a commitment to him as our number one goaltender for long-term because we felt that way. We watch him practice every day. We watch his work ethic. We watch his dedication to the game. We felt at the time and continue to feel that he's the best goaltender in the league.
I know how it started, but I don't know how you win in this league without great goaltending. I don't know how you get in the playoffs without great goaltending and I don't know how you win.
We feel very fortunate to have he and Cory. We think Cory is a terrific young goaltender who is learning from Roberto.
I'm not sure how others feel about it, but in our situation, we were compelled and eager to get him signed because we felt he was the best opportunity for us to win.

Q. Mike, you had some pieces in place here when you took over. Can you talk about the challenge or the job of integrating what was here when you came and what you complemented it with, how that process went?
MIKE GILLIS: We could be here all day talking about that.
You know, we felt that Daniel and Henrik were key components to the plan we had. If we didn't get them signed, we had to go in a completely different direction. We were fortunate enough to have them buy into a plan that allowed us to surround them with other good players. If they weren't prepared to do that, we would have had to go in a completely different direction and probably wouldn't be sitting here today.
But once they agreed to work with us under those terms, we then went and got Roberto signed, Ryan Kesler signed. We had to sign every player who is on this team currently, either trade, sign or bring them in as free agents, except for two, Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa.
We've had to make decisions all the way along. Some decisions weren't made that well and others were made very well. We've managed to sign every player we wanted to sign and keep every player we wanted to keep.
If it didn't start with Daniel and Henrik, we'd be in a very different place today.

Q. Mike, your farm team in Winnipeg is now an NHL city. What do you plan to do with your farm team?
MIKE GILLIS: We've been looking at a number of options over the last couple of months when this became a serious probability, I guess, that there was something that was going to happen in Manitoba. It initiated with Phoenix and that situation, moved to Atlanta.
So we've had lots of opportunity to think about options. We have a number of them that are available to us. We're going to explore them all over the next few weeks, time permitting. We anticipate having a relationship with a minor league affiliate whether it's us owning a team, whether it's us doing what we've done in the past with Manitoba.
We don't see a big hurdle in this. There's lots of opportunity for us. The exact location is unknown at this point. In all likelihood, we'll have it wrapped up in the next few weeks.

Q. Alain, can you talk about your relationship with Claude, the time you spent together playing wasn't all that long. What is your relationship like, whether it's strange to be facing each other on this stage?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, it's definitely not strange. I'm very happy for him. I'm sure he's very happy for me.
I think we both came into this season pretty much under the same situation. He was in his four-year window, I was in my four-year window. We both knew we had good teams. We both knew we had to win.
So from that standpoint, I'm real happy for him. Now we're going to get an opportunity, both of us, to compete for the Cup.
But I've known him a long time and we both know what coaches go through on a daily basis and a yearly basis. So he can relate to me and I can relate to him.
I got a tremendous amount of respect for what he does and what he's done with his team this year.

Q. Coach, after a long wait, is it good to finally get this series going?
COACH VIGNEAULT: What do you think my answer's going to be there (laughter)?
Obviously, myself and the players are real anxious to get this going. We're looking forward to a real tough series against a real good opponent.

Q. Alain, can you talk about Roberto and his performance since Game 7 against Chicago, not starting in the game before this great run? Do you think that's a factor in the way he responded when you started Cory?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I think Roberto's been real consistent for us all year long. He's always been the guy. What happened in Game 6, obviously we had lost momentum, and Chicago had a tremendous amount of momentum going their way. Between coaches and management, we talked about making maybe a change there.
Finally I decided, my gut was telling me, that Schneids could go in and give us one good game. He went in and played well. Didn't finish. We were able to put Roberto back in. I think that changed the momentum of that series.
We should have won that game. We outplayed Chicago. I think the whole organization, players and coaches and management, were confident that in Game 7 we'd get the job done.
We were a minute away. We made it a little bit more interesting, but we got it done anyway.

Q. You've always been about getting character and integrity guys on this team. Talking today, they're saying it's not only the players, they've become fathers, their wives are good friends. How important do you think that is to what you see?
MIKE GILLIS: I place a lot of value on it. We have a really tight-knit group of players. The players that we introduced this summer have fit in seamlessly. Max and Chris who we got at the trade deadline fit in seamlessly because these guys allow that to happen. There's a lot of teams that don't allow that to happen, players who are protecting their own turf.
What we found with this group, if you're totally committed to winning, you don't behave that way. You take people as they come. You bring them into your group. You get them to contribute as best you can.
I think it's great that our players are really close. I think it's great their wives are close. Their kids play together. It's pretty special to be part of it. To watch it occur, it's something you hope for, but you don't know if it will happen. We are very fortunate we have strong enough leadership to create an environment like that and allow it to occur.

Q. Just a comment about how long Canada has been waiting for a Stanley Cup. Vancouver was the next team to have a chance to win it in '94. You're the next one again to win it for the country and for Vancouver.
COACH VIGNEAULT: Go ahead (smiling).
MIKE GILLIS: What does that mean 'the next one to win it'?

Q. Since '94, the country has been waiting for someone.
MIKE GILLIS: Calgary and Ottawa were in there, too.

Q. To win it.
MIKE GILLIS: Oh, to win it.
That debate has come about the last couple of weeks. This is intertwined with that a little bit. You know the debate I'm talking about, of course.
But I think we're our team. I've never thought about it in those terms, and I haven't thought about getting into the middle of that debate because I just don't think of it like that.
I don't know, Alain, maybe you feel differently.
COACH VIGNEAULT: I don't know what you're talking about (laughter).
MIKE GILLIS: Anyway, there you go.

Q. You just came off a series where the officials were pretty quick with the whistle till Game 5. Boston is coming off a game where not a single penalty was called. What is your expectation of the officiating? How much uncertainty is there about what constitutes a penalty?
MIKE GILLIS: I think the officiating is going to be good. I think you get the best of the best in the finals, just like the teams. These guys have worked hard for it. I think the games will be called fairly and well. I don't anticipate it being an issue.

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