Lordy, we must have spoken to about 14 players today, for different lengths of time, after their post-season interviews and physicals.
After a million words this year---and knowing my achy wrists and your flickering attention span---I will spread them out over a couple days. I really want to watch the Pens-Lightning tonight. I'll have a piece on the Gaborik-Tortorella summit today, where they seems to have found some common ground, and Torts in Drury, Prospal and Avery, all on the bubble, here tonight and in Newsday tommorah.
Not much news, just smoke signals and tea leaves, who's going to the worlds (Gaborik), who might (Step, McDonagh, Lundqvist), who's not (Staal, Dubi, Girardi) and this piece of good fortune: doesn't seem as if anyone's having surgery. Biron and Callahan are healing well and will begin training in a few weeks
Anyway, what I will pass along are exceprts from Torts (before I turn to the Chez Zipay's two-alarm turkey chili):
Note: This ain't chronolgical or complete, just a taste, more later
“ I think our core will be back, I think we know how to play within a style. But you also, as you find out in the playoffs, you grind, and I know we’ll grind, but you also need a big play at a key time, to where maybe you score one or two of those goals that maybe isn’t underneath the hashmarks and jamming the net...like our power play. There’s no question … and Caber (McCabe), we bring him in, he’s a shooter. He kind of gets caught in a tough spot because we really don’t have a quarterback, and Caber was kind of the quarterback/shooter. It doesn’t work. So those are the type of things that you look to add to to this core."
I asked him his assessment of Vinny Prospal and Chris Drury, which doesn't really bode well for the vets:
"Well, you start with Vinny. I never thought Vinny would come back from the injury. He did. Very inconsistent and he readily admits that. His leg, I think his knee, at least talkng to him—and they’re going to do the MRI and all that stuff—but I think it’s structurally sound inside but he wasn’t able to develop the muscles around (it). And he struggled. He played really well at times and really struggled. He was very inconsistent. You have to think, you’ve got to make sure—Vinny’s getting older. He adds a tremendous quality to our team in just the way he is as a pro. These are things we have to talk about, and you don’t want to get into a situation where it’s a mistake and it takes the spot of another (player). He’s a skilled guy, but that’s something that we really have to talk about and assess and listen to what the doctors say about him and all.
“Same thing with Dru. Dru’s a guy that has a knee, and high marks for him, because I didn’t even expect him back. I was so happy for him when he scored the goal (against the Devils in the season finale) and who knows? Because of that stupid rule we may not have even gotten in if Dru didn’t score a goal..."
“But then as I watch him in playoffs, it was a bit of a struggle for Dru, honestly. He tried like hell, but he slowed down as it went on. I thought he did a great job in the role that he did as a killer and a faceoff guy. But again, this is something, honestly, that we have to look at, as far as, where does he fit now? Because we are going young. And we’re trying to build it up again. And with older guys, those are conversations that we have to have, as we continue here for the next few months.”
“Intangibles always come into evaluating. You just can’t let the intangibles override other things, too. Dru and I have a great relationship. We’ve been very honest with one another. Dru is getting older. That’s why he has this chronic knee, and it’s amazing that he was able to come back when he did. But we have to make decisions based on what’s best for the organization moving on, and I’m not saying—don’t get me wrong—but we have to be careful with all this stuff here. And it’s certainly not my total decision, but I have my thoughts, so these are all conversations we have to have."
Someone asked about Marc Staal:
“Get to the next level. I think there’s another level there. Marc knows that. Marc was pretty banged up as we went through here. In that way I was hoping that … I thought he played really good in the playoffs. I thought he had a really good year. I think there’s more there. I think there’s more there. Hopefully some of the bite in his game will improve as we go along here. But he is a big part of our club here. But there’s always more, and it’s our job as coaches to make sure that they understand it. He’s still just a young man. He’s played a lot, but he’s still just a young man. But we’ll, as far as the push right now, he was banged up at the end of the year here and I thought fought through it pretty well. But he has an A on his shirt now. He needs to assume more responsibility and this isn’t negative, this is part of the process for him, too. He is going to be better and the most important thing is that he knows that there’s more there and that’s how we’re going to approach this.”
And Sean Avery:
"It’s a matter of consistency with Sean … he played good in the playoffs. It wasn’t anything spectacular. But it’s a situation where I have to make decisions each and every game for what’s best for the hockey club and I think I’ve been very fair with all players on that. And so with Sean, I don’t know where it sits. We go to camp and we find out, along with a number of other players.”
"Brian Boyle and him were probably our two best forwards, our two most consistent forwards in the playoffs. (He) served a tremendous role for us, especially with Cally being out, in where he’s so versatile. That’s someone we have to talk about in a way where, I think he’s 31, but I thought played very well for us, and that’s someone we have to talk about as far as, yeah, he is getting older, but he added a lot to our club, also. So these are all conversations we have to have. I have my thoughts, but we have to pool our thoughts and then Glen has to make a decision on where we go with some of these athletes."
On Matt Gilroy:
"When you’re building a hockey club, you ask, did the guy improve? I look at Gilly. Three or four months ago, I wasn’t sure with Gilly. But I watched him go through the process. He was sent down last year, he was in and out of the lineup this year, struggled, I thought, terribly at certain times. But I think he shows improvement. I thought he was one guy in the playoffs, although it didn’t amount to a lot of points offensively, which we’re hoping will come to him eventually, but I thought he tried to make a difference in the playoffs. So I see him improving. I’m just using him as an example."
"I’m disappointed, I thought we could have played more games. I think we were third in the regular season in goals-for in the third period, third or fifth, and we were right at the top of the league, 29-0 (going into the third ahead), second in the league as far as gaining points even going into the third period losing—a lot of good things. But we have three games out of the first four where we’re leading in the third and we only win one. That’s a recipe for disaster when you’re playing against a team like Washington. We can talk about the power play; that adds to it in not succeeding there. But bottom line is we had the games in the third period and we didn’t get the jobs done. That’s crucial in the Washington series because it’s a 4-1 series. It could have been different. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, but it wasn’t, and that falls on us.
I’m disappointed in some players that we were counting on. I’m worried about some of those; that disappointment worries me as far as playoff hockey. I am really excited about how some other guys played, that I didn’t expect to play so well. So there’s a whole litany of feelings that I have as far as when we played five games. But we were a better team. We were a better team. We shouldn’t have been playing just five games. That falls on us.”