January 25, 2005

Interview With The Coach, “The kids are great”

Notes from the regular post-w/e interview with Killer yesterday on TEAM 1200/Dean Brown and Gord Wilson. Not surprisingly, the discussion focused on Killer’s participation in the Top Prospects game last week in Vancouver.


Asked for his thoughts from the Top Prospects game: The kids are great, and they idolize Don [Cherry]. What he says, they do. He’s priceless. People who don’t know about him except when they see him on TV, don’t know that he’s so comical. How he maintains composure with so many interviews and television cameras, I don’t know how he does it. People from the east coast were calling for interviews at 6am because of the time difference [Vancouver]. Don said he did 26 interviews in one day.

Regarding the Sydney Crosby no-show, and the organizer’s upset: The organizer was asked by so many people about this, that he eventually just got weary of it. He started off diplomatically, but he was asked and asked and asked. You’re dealing with a superstar in the making. It was more disappointment from the fans. I was on his side, because even if Sydney was injured (and he has played pretty well since then), I thought that he should have travelled out there to go out and accept the adulation of the fans. The fans wanted to shower him with praise because he was a gold medal winner and he should have travelled out there. I think he missed a great opportunity.

Other notes: Brent Sutter came to speak to the team, and the kids’ eyes popped. They loved him. Sutter took the time to talk to the kids, it was unofficial good will. Don [Cherry] is the guy they really want – they know so much about Don. Both teams do, but unfortunately he can only coach the one. Even John Davidson [the other coach] came to me and said I’m really enjoying this. He said it’s just so much fun. He’s another icon on TV down there, grassroots, it was good.

Any player that stood out? Gilbert Brule went out there with a purpose. He went out and showed them he’s going to be a force and a high, high pick. He played both ends, killed penalties, was physical, and scored goals.

Importance of this game to the draft? There is no doubt that guys move up from playing in this game. Yes, you can do yourself an awful lot of good. If you can show what you can do against the class of the draft, you will move up. Not so much down, because it is just one game from that angle.

Do you spend much time talking to the guys about the draft? Joslin for instance? No. Let nature take its course.

How many come to you and ask you about it? They do talk, and I’ve talked with Joslin – who wanted to be there [Top Prospects] – and was disappointed when he wasn’t. But it’s not just central scouting; also NHL scout voting.

If no NHL season, what happens to this year’s draft? If they did come to a resolution, whether next December, they could still have a draft next February so they wouldn’t lose the year.

Other notes on the current lock-out: Don [Cherry] felt that when they took personal attacks – calling some of the owners stupid, lying, cheats, etc. – it went too far. Don said it’s a little more personal now, and this is wrong. The last few years everything has been taken out of the hands of the owners, from hotels (e.g., if not a 5-star hotel the union won’t allow players to stay) and meal money, to pay (arbitration). These decisions are being made, not by the players or the owners, but by the union.

Are you at all optimistic? Only if the players understand and accept that the cap doesn’t hurt 90% of the players. Jeff Hunt explains it like this: If you [players] had 100% the gate, advertisement, parking, souvenirs etc., would you accept this? If yes, well that’s the cap. Now we have to work out the expense part on the owners end.

Thoughts from yesterday’s game: The team played for two periods in the game, for the third we were outworked. We didn’t play a physical game – maybe this was coming from the idea that they were leery of taking penalties, because London has such a good PP. But we were not physical. We were not winning the battles one-on-one. They’re a sound team, they do everything well. They chase the puck down, utilize their speed and strength. I don’t think everyone realizes how big and good C. Perry is. Maybe now after making the line up at World Junior team they will.

What’s up this week? A tough game coming up in Belleville. They beat London, but lost to Saginaw and Toronto. You never know, and you have to be ready for every game.

Will Spezza get a shot in the net? Probably this w/e. We’ve got three games coming up. Battochio is starting to get ready, but we’re not rushing him.


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