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BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC: RANGERS v FLYERS


January 1, 2012


Claude Giroux

Peter Laviolette

Maxime Talbot


PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

Q.  Claude, when is the first time you met Jagr, and how has your relationship evolved on and off the ice?
CLAUDE GIROUX:  As training captain, wasn't sure if I could go talk to him or just let it be.  I was pretty nervous actually so I finally decided to go and talk to him and I was nervous, I didn't really know what to say.  That was my first time I met him.  It was a pretty exciting moment.
Obviously he's a talented player, and I think the way he plays, his mentality of playing offense, it's different than the other players.  It's obviously different good, and we try to make sure we are on the same page.
And it's funny, because every time we play a new team, he kind of switches his game, and that's why he performs pretty much every night, because he can change his game to from one team to the other.
As a young player coming in, it's pretty impressive.

Q.  (No mic).
CLAUDE GIROUX:  I try; on the ice and off the ice, he works a lot with me and I think I'm pretty lucky to have him besides me and kind of shows me the way.  Obviously he had a pretty good career, so he knows how to get it done.

Q.  What's your initial feeling on practicing in such a facility today?
MAXIME TALBOT:  It's great.  I had a chance to play in a football stadium last year, and I don't know whetherit's people in the stands and stuff like that, because it was just a practice, but it looks great.
The ice condition has been like pretty good and fun.  It's a special event and I think everything that surrounds the event is great and we feel privileged to be part of this game.
CLAUDE GIROUX:  Yeah, it's pretty cool.  The event is pretty big, a lot of people watch it.  Just today, kind of practice and then the whole family comes on the ice.  It's a lot of fun to see the other families, too.
I think we are pretty close all together, and obviously tomorrow is going to be a different story.  We're going to wake up and all of the fun is going to be over and make sure we get those two points.

Q.  Apologize if you were already asked this, but your reaction to Bob getting the start tomorrow.
CLAUDE GIROUX:  He's been playing well for us.  The last few games he's working hard and battled a lot.  Any of the two goalies deserve to play.
But I think that's the coaches' decision, and the guys are going to work hard and play hard for both of them.  Obviously Bob deserves it.  He's been playing well and since the start of the season he's been working hard and I think guys can see how hard he works.

Q.  Just talk about the play of Matt Read and Sean Couturier and then stepping in as rookies, and having versatile roles on the team.
MAXIME TALBOT:  Pretty much every rookie has been playing pretty good and that's the sign of a great team I think.  You know, when you have guys going out with injuries and rookies stepping up like that, being called up, it's not easy for them to step into other roles.
And then you can look at other rookies like Bourdon taking a spot like that and playing with confidence, and Sean, 18 years old, being put in all these type of situations, he's been a really important part of the team.  And Jak and Zac Rinaldo, he can play with all of these guysbig and strong.  And like you said, Matt Read, they have all been playing really well.
So it's a sign of a good team; that these guys are stepping up in different roles and it's been great.
CLAUDE GIROUX:  All of the rookies have been playing great for us and they have not really been playing like rookies.  With all of the changes that we had this year, it's important for guys to step up and grab some ice time, and I think they did a pretty good job of that.
Just the way they work out there, you see that they want to keep their spot and they are going to have a pretty good career.  Everybody is just working hard and they are having fun doing it, too.
So just in the locker room to have those guys kind of put a lot of energy in the room and have a lot of fun together, so probably just keep going like that.

Q.  How do you think you're better this year than you were last year and the year before?
CLAUDE GIROUX:  I don't know, just young player, last year, I learned a lot, a lot of good veterans, even Mike and Jeff, even if they are gone, I learned a lot from them.  Pronger and Briere and Simon Gagné was there, and this year Max Talbot.
But obviously when you have veterans like that that knows how to win, and they always do the right thing off the ice and on the ice, and I think as a young player coming in, you kind of get excited to play in the NHL.  I think it's important that you kind of focus on what you've got to do to take care of your body and just go from there.
Even Zac (ph) this year, he really talks to me a lot about working hard in practice and always give everything you have; if you give everything you have in practice, you won't have to do too much extra after the practice.  I've been trying to do that, and you can see during practice, everybody is going hard and I think it's pretty good first step.

Q.  Is Jeff more of a leader now?
CLAUDE GIROUX:  Like I said I'm still learning every practice and every game, and as a player, I'm just trying to get better and do everything I can to help the team win, and obviously I want to be more of a leader in years to come, and I think I've just got to keep working hard and just showing the way.

Q.  It was announced Bob will be starting tomorrow, can you talk about the decision, what went into it and how it's been pretty consistent?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:  Well, let's talk about consistency first.  I have been consistent with how I've handled the announcement of goaltenders.  I have not spoken to the goaltenders yet and have not announced anything yet.  We plan on making an announcement later on today as to who the starter will be.

Q.  With that said, do you worry about where Bryz's head is at this point with everything that's going on around him, whether it's the cameras constantly on him or questions constantly being fired his way; is the pressure something that he's struggling with?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:  You know, I'm not sure how to answer that question.  You can probably ask him that.  I'm not sure.  I think that's more of a personal question, are you struggling.  I can't speak for him.

Q.  I'm not trying to trick you into telling us; why do you think he would come out and tell us that?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:  I don't know.  I haven't spoken to either one of the goaltenders.  I plan on speaking to them after I get done with you guys, and we plan on making an announcement before the game.  Sticking with company policy that we've had since I've been here.  Same policy; new year, same policy.

Q.  Can you talk a little about your early impressions of Matt Read and Sean Couturier and how they have developed over this close to half a season now?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:¬† Our impression of both of those players are terrific, right from training camp, they both have been used in roles‑‑ they are a little bit different I think just by age.¬† One is 25; there's a six‑ or seven‑year difference between the two.
Early on in camp when we hadwe thought a lot of young players available to us, we wanted to give them an opportunity in training camp to play different roles, and Sean came highly regarded as a smart two‑way player that was able to play in a lot of different situation, and we utilized him in those roles during training camp.
In camp, he played against other teams top players, he played power play, penalty kill, five‑on‑three against, end‑of‑the‑game faceoffs.¬† He never disappointed us.¬† And when the season came around, we decided not to change anything and to let him continue to grow and develop.¬† And he proved that he could do it.¬† If there were things that needed to be corrected‑‑ just saying he's not ready or he can't do it.
I think the coaching staff that we have here, the assistants, I think they do a tremendous job of getting to our young players and really helping them learn and understand.  There's been a lot of that this year, because we have so many available.
Matt Read had the same opportunity, a little bit different player, a little bit older, and able to‑‑ what's really neat about Matt is he's versatile and he can play all positions, including point on the power play.¬† He's smart, he kills penalties.¬† Really both of them have been excellent additions to our team.

Q.  What are your feelings about having an outdoor practice, and what's your summary of today's practice?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:  I thought it was good.  The day was beautiful.  The ice I thought was terrific.  You know, to catch a day like we did today, the weather I think was perfect.
And you know, instead of just going out there and making it all fluff, we decided to put some things in place that we normally do the day before a game and to get a feel for the boards and the ice and the elements and asking the whole rink in the building.  I thought it was a good practice and a really good day.

Q.  You said in training camp it would be wrong to dismiss Bob's potential role in the team.  What do you like about his work ethic and where his game is at?  What have you seen in terms of his preparation and the evolution?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:  Bob's preparation is terrific.  I think with Ilya getting a lot of the starts, Bob has had to spend a lot of time working with Jeff, and I think that's really helped.  He spends a lot of time in the weight room and after practice, making sure that he's conditioned and ready.
You know, as of recent, he's played really well.  His numbers are outstanding.  But I think his whole work ethic couldn't be better.

Q.  How much more fun is it going to be to be at home?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:  To be here in Philly with our fans is certainly the place you would rather be.  We miss them.  We have been away for the whole month of December it seems, so it's good to get back here and get a game in this environment.
I think you go back to our building over there when it matters and when it counts to have our fans behind us, I think it's really important.  We are looking forward to getting here and on this ice out here in front of that many people and having a great game.
We feel like we have done a good job to this point.  I know the Rangers have done a good job to this point.  It should be an excellent game.

Q.  Can you talk about your impressions of Jagr before he got here and now that you've been able to coach him?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:¬† I'm not sure‑‑ other than he was extremely talented, I don't think you really get an impression of a player until you get to work with him on a daily basis.
But what I saw is what you saw; that's a guy who is tremendously talented.  You miss all of that.  When you coach a player, I think you get a real good feel for what he's like, what he brings to your team.
I can tell you that firsthand since he's been here, I think that he's amazing at how he prepares himself, his attitude, the way he practices, the way he train, the way he plays, the way he's helped our young players.  I really don't think I can speak highly enough of him and what he's brought to our organization.

Q.  When the goalie decision came, can you talk about how difficult the decision is, and basically what goes into it?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:  It's always difficult.  I had a lot of tough conversations today, because you know, the game is still important.  I think you can't lose sight of that first and foremost, whether it's played here or the Wells Fargo building, you have to make decisions on where is the best avenue to beat the New York rangers.
And I had a lot of tough conversations today, because guys want to play.¬† Nobody wants to hear that they are not playing or that they are not in the lineup or they are not part of it.¬† Those are conversations that I don't‑‑ that they shouldn't be taken lightly.
I think that when it comes down to making decisions, you want to put the team on the ice that you feel has the best opportunity to be successful.

Q.  Why didn't you put Jagr with Giroux from day one, was that an experiment or was that the plan all along, and what have they done for each other?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:  I think that you have to start somewhere.  I don't think it was set in stone when Jaromir got signed here and we said, well, this is going to be a match made in heaven.
I don't think you know that until players actually get together, they spend time together, and they develop chemistry or they don't develop chemistry.  And it seemed from almost day one on the ice that there was a chemistry.
I think‑‑ everybody thinks about the game a certain way.¬† And then there's a few people, a few select people who think about the game in a different way and how it should be played and where to go and the space that's available and where to be, how to support, how to give somebody space.
They just think a little bit differently, and I truly think that Claude and Jaromir think on the same level.  They think the game the same way.

Q.  Can you talk about Brayden Schenn, obviously we have not seen as much of him as we might have expected with the ups and downs he's had with injuries.  Can you talk about how he's dealt with that and also what you expect his role in the team to be in the future?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:¬† This is not the start that Brayden has been looking for, I can guarantee you that; when you're faced with three big injuries, I think it's difficult.¬† It's challenging, especially as a first‑year player, you want to come in and make a good impression into a new organization.¬† And he just has not had that opportunity.
So hopefully the new year for Brayden will bring him some good health where he can get out there and really start to get back in shape.  He's missed a lot of time, get a good feel for his game and get his conditioning to where it needs to be.
Saying that, there's space for Brayden right now to come in and get back to that.¬† We don't have to rely on him for 20‑plus minutes a night, but there's an opportunity to get back there and tart to work his way back in, and that's where we are at right now with him.
We are all excited from our organization to get him healthy and in shape and watch him develop as a player, like our other young players have done.

Q.  You said yesterday that the Winter Classic is the Super Bowl of hockey, just midseason; what do you think in general can the Winter Classic can give to the game of hockey?
PETER LAVIOLETTE:¬† Who said it was the Super Bowl?¬† Yeah, it certainly is a‑‑ the event itself I think is phenomenal for hockey.
I think what's going to take place‑‑ what took place last night and what takes place tomorrow, I think the way that HBO has come in, and last year and this year, given‑‑ whether you're a hockey fan or not, an inside look at how professional teams run, I think it's been tremendous for the sport.
We feel fortunate because we've been‑‑ three years, we get two kicks at it and one now in Philadelphia in front of our fans.¬† I think the day will be phenomenal, and I think the event is phenomenal, as well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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