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Boston Bruins Conference Call With General Manager Don Sweeney and Defenseman Torey Krug

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS CONFERENCE CALL

Friday, June 30, 2016

BOSTON BRUINS GENERAL MANAGER DON SWEENEY AND DEFENSEMAN TOREY KRUG
Opening statement…
DS: Thanks everybody. It’s a very exciting day for us in announcing that Torey Krug has signed a four-year extension. Torey’s got a very, very unique skill set that’s important to our hockey club. He’s had a very, very productive three years. His role this year and his time on ice, in all situations, increased significantly. He was able to shoulder much, much more responsibility in all parts of the game. As a young player who is invested in the Boston Bruins organization, he wants to win, he does things the right way every time he comes to the rink. He wants to get better; he’s not satisfied. All the things you want out of a young player to identify with, which is something we also acknowledge, that Torey has really been identified as an emerging part of our core leadership group. I think he’ll help tremendously to help all of our young players that hope to fall in similar fashion with the success that he’s had up to this point. We have a lot of work to do in front of us and Torey’s going to help us get back to where we want to be in trying to win a Stanley Cup each and every year. We’re very, very excited, again, to have him. I’ll turn it over to Torey to allow him to comment.
 
TK: Thanks guys. First and foremost, I’ve got to thank the Jacobs family, Cam Neely and Don Sweeney, and the rest of the Bruins organization for this opportunity. I also have to thank my family, my wife, my parents, my brothers, for always believing in me, supporting me no matter what. I think this is an unbelievable opportunity that I’ve worked for and dreamed of my entire life. I’m humbled and blessed to be able to wear the Spoked B for four more years. I’m fully committed and excited that I can move on to my next goal of accomplishing bringing back the Stanley Cup to this organization and this city.
 
On Torey’s health and a target date for return…
TK: I feel great right now. Obviously with everything going on in my life, I’m very excited for what has happened recently. It’s going to only help move my recovery back that much further. I’m pushing to be on the ice opening night with my teammates. I think it’s a realistic goal that I’m shooting for. I’m looking forward to it.
 
On how important it was to get this done before free agency began…
DS: Well, we’ve had significant talks for an extended period of time with Torey and his agent Lewis [Gross]. I want to thank them both. The timing, I don’t think it was that paramount, but it’s great to be able to come to an agreement. Both parties feel very comfortable and fair in how things were approached. Again, I don’t think the timing was necessary in front of July 1 or after July 1. It was just important to find the common ground and find a fair deal for both sides that we could move forward with.
 
On the process behind the buyout of Dennis Seidenberg…
DS: Well, very, very difficult decision and call to make to Dennis. I want to thank him personally, on behalf of the Boston Bruins organization. He’s a terrific person, first and foremost, and his family was a big part of our organization and the success that we have had in winning a Stanley Cup and getting back to the Finals. We just had a shift in philosophy and the commitment to our younger players was a directional change that we want to make, providing them with an opportunity to emerge, while we continue to explore the possibilities both internally and externally to continue to improve our hockey club. Yeah, we did take it down. We’ve wrestled with this decision for quite some time. It’s really a compliment to Dennis as a person and certainly what he has done and what he can continue to do at the National Hockey League level. But where we are and where we want to get to, we felt that some of the other players internally would help us get there, while we continue to explore. But we certainly have some players on the horizon that we would like to see come in and push for an opportunity here.
 
On Krug playing the right side…
TK: Well, I think any time the coach wants to try me out there I’m more than willing. I played my only year in Providence on the right side with a very good partner in Garnet Exelby. I’m comfortable with it. Whether or not it happens, it happens. If not, then it doesn’t. You always try to be in position to help the team not matter what. If that’s something that Claude [Julien] would like me to do then I’m more than willing. But like I said, who knows what will happen. We’ll see how it looks come the first game of the season.
 
On how Krug fared in an elevated capacity last season…
DS: I think I see him moving in a similar fashion – to step up into two extra minutes of ice time in the course of a night is a lot. He welcomed the challenges. It’s one of the things we admire about Torey, is his understanding of playing within the limitations when you have to manage your minutes a little more and being exposed to that, a lot of times adverse situations for the first time. It might have taken a little bit of energy from the power play component of things. But we don’t expect him to only score four goals next year. We think he pops up and scores back into the 14-range that he’s had. We’re just excited. You realize the more he’s on the ice, the more we control the puck and move the puck. We understand where the game is going and he’s a big part of the transition game as I mentioned earlier. He responded well. It’s a great challenge and it’s one that he’s readily wanted and advocated for. He stepped up and filled, in a lot of ways, above and beyond. And how we can complement around him with Zee [Zdeno Chara] and Kevan [Miller] and Adam [McQuaid] and a couple of our younger players, and internally as well as exploring with John-Michael Liles. I think we’ve got the makings of having some balance to our group and Torey’s a big part of that.

On what he needed to do last season to round out his game…
TK: Yeah thanks. I mean it was no secret that moving on in my career I wanted to be a bigger part of the team and obviously become more serviceable in different parts of the game. And I think the one I really wanted to focus on is becoming a more reliable component of the team and every time I touch the ice that my teammates and my coaching staff know what they’re getting out of me. And I thought consistency was something that I always thought about and it was something that I always show for it. And I think that for the most part my teammates knew what was going to happen when I jumped over the boards on a nightly basis, it was something that I thought about. Yeah there were definitely times last year where I had to learn and I’m going to continue to learn. I’m 25 years old and my game is only growing and I’m continuing to be hungry and always try to improve and I think that’s been a big part of it.

On how hard he shopped Dennis Seidenberg…
DS: I would’ve considered all options from that standpoint. I mean they’re all at our disposal and if it had come to any of those situations we probably would have been able to approach Dennis with his contract situation and no trades and explored those things. This was the opportunity where we pushed it right down to the last minute and this is the decision we made, albeit a very difficult one.

On if this was the last resort…
DS: I mean yeah, if we could have done it in a different fashion, yeah we probably would have done it.  

On how the market has shifted for defensemen after the NHL Entry Draft…
DS: Well I think that you saw a few players exchanged in the last day or so and understand what the value of each and every one of those players is. It’s a matter of whether or not those are both really good hockey trades, and they’ll be decided upon win or lose or breakeven over time. I think after all the General Managers are doing right now is try to look for ways to improve your own club and the other team is equally doing so. I don’t think the market has changed at all that much. It just isn’t involving draft pick talks as much as it is player talks and people trying to improve their team while they’re gauging what will happen tomorrow free agency-wise.

On being an emerging part of the core leadership and relating to young defensemen coming up…
TK: Thank you. As far as the leadership aspect goes I think it’s been something that was instilled in me in a young age, you know, coming from my father. And it’s always been authentic. And if anyone tries to force it then people see right through that and it just doesn’t happen. But for me and this team and this locker room I think I’m able to bridge that gap from the young guys to the older guys. And I relate to every single person in that locker room, which I think will help our team as we grow and we mature bringing in younger guys from Providence or guys that are just signed and helping them develop and helping them feel comfortable within the locker room because it can be intimidating. It’s tough to walk in the locker room, you know, when you have Stanley Cup Champions and Norris and Selke Trophy winners so it can definitely be very intimidating and hopefully I can serve as that bridge to kind of ease that gap for those guys. And as far as young defensemen goes, the one thing that Claude [Julien] helped me with when I first came up was making sure I was myself. And I didn’t … I was here for a reason. I was able to do the thing I do well and I wasn’t straying away from that to try to be someone that I’m not. So I think young defensemen, once they realize that and they realize that everyone in this organization is there to help them, then they’ll begin to improve and they’ll become themselves as they will at the NHL level.

On if defense is more of a target through acquisition at this point…
DS: Well as I mentioned, we’re in discussions whether it be through acquisition, we’ve talked to free agent candidates. I’ve mentioned John-Michael [Liles]; I think that we’ve had very, very productive talks there. We’re looking for balance; we’re looking for younger players to have an opportunity to emerge and grab a hold of that. Whichever we can improve our team internally or externally, we’re going to continue to evaluate and pursue. The trade market … whether that materializes remains to be seen. And it’s not an easy process, nor is the free agency process. So we’re going to do the work to try and improve our team but it starts internally with our group. And our coaches are excited about what our young players are going to bring to the table. They’re happy to have Torey [Krug] back in the fold and we’re going to work every day to continue to get better.

On how the team gets back to the playoffs…
TK: Well I think there’s a lot of things that go into it. I think the way that the last two seasons have gone, the feeling of disappointment has struck us right in the heart. We’re a team that emotionally we’re so engaged and we want to win and you fall like that at the end of the season, it’s a feeling that you can’t really describe. First that feeling will help us improve next year and make sure that we don’t get back to that. And second we’re going to grow; we’re going to change. I think we have some maturing pieces with the younger guys in the room that are hungry for success next year. And then we have the core pieces that any time you have Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Krech [David Krejci] down the middle it’s a pretty good team. So I think a lot of things go into it, but I think we’re going to grow, we’re going to change. I think you see the way the Stanley Cup Final was played, how fast that pace was – it was incredible. And I know that we’ve had many discussions to help improve our pace to our game and if we can just combine the goal scoring that we had last year, put that together with some defense that was played like it was in the Stanly Cup Finals then we’ll have a really good team. We’ll get back in the playoffs.

On how badly he wanted to sign with the Bruins…
TK: Yeah it’s huge. To be honest when I went through the free agent process as a college free agent that was a main reason that I signed with Boston. They were one of the first teams that reached out to me and my conversations with them, you know, I felt most comfortable in where I would be, I’d have to earn my position and I wanted to do that. And coming through the playoffs that one year I got called up, I absolutely fell in love with the city and that’s one of the reasons I stay here in the offseason when a lot of players go home back to their hometowns. And it’s just unbelievable. There’s no greater feeling than winning in this city. And I know I haven’t been able to accomplish my ultimate goal of the Stanley Cup, but it’s something that I want to do here. And I think this is the first step, being here for four more years and having another crack at it.

On if there are any updates on Loui Eriksson, and if there have been further talks with his agent…
DS: No updates. You know, we’ll continue to have talks and sort of figure out where things may go. We’ve had talks with a number of players to see what they would like to see as the opportunity here or what we see as a fit. I haven’t ruled absolutely any of that out; just haven’t found common ground and obviously it gets harder and harder as we go further along in the process.

On the two previous contracts that Torey Krug signed, and if he has more satisfaction in signing a longer term contract…
TK: Yeah, I do. Those first couple of contracts, the one-year deals, were something that I was fully aware of — the lack of security, and things like that. But I knew if I did this thing the right way, that I’d put myself in a good position individually to accomplish some security for myself and my family. I did the work and I was lucky enough to come away with this great opportunity that the Bruins presented to me. I knew going into it, the work that I’d have to do and how to accomplish that, and I now I definitely do feel a sense of relief. By no means does that stall my hunger and my drive to become a better player and to help this team even more. I’m not done growing and developing as a player and I’ve not accomplished any of my goals — I’m here to win a Stanley Cup and now that will be my full focus. I don’t have to worry about my contract situation for next year or anything like that and I can put that in the back of my mind and just focus on winning. When we win, everyone has success and it works out for everyone, so I’m looking forward to this upcoming season and continuing to get better.

On the P.K. Subban/Shea Weber and Taylor Hall/Adam Larsson trades, and if he expects more of those hockey trades, player-for-player, with expansion on the horizon…
DS: Well, again, the trade scenarios have to line up for both parties. Obviously they did in these cases. I think teams are starting to plan certainly for expansion, and where they need to be. The penalty is to not hit the thresholds for the type of players made available, it’s pretty significant, so you might see that closer to the back-half of the season, teams may jockey a little bit. I think right now everybody’s intently focused on improving their teams in all different ways and shapes through the free agency process or through trade acquisition.

On if Torey’s deal has stipulations…
DS: Yeah, on the tail end of the deal there’s limited no-trade clauses that kick in, during his period of free agency years.

On puck-movers being costly this summer, and where the management team rests in terms of shut-down guys maybe being a lower price on the market…
DS: Well, again, I think it’s going to be by committee. Obviously if we can bring in a guy as-advertised as you described, no matter what the acquisition costs are, if it lines up, we’re in a position to do that. The flexibility we have is there to be able to continue to explore and improve our team in any way, shape or form. If it’s internal, like I mentioned, then we’re going to continue to do that — we have players that can emerge in that sense, with a puck possession game and transition game comes in different forms. It’s not just about a shut-down; I think it’s going to be team-wide, as it always has been — Claude’s system dictates that players play 200-feet and we’ll be better at it. We’re excited to be working, bringing back some of these younger players and what we tried to do last year in the teaching part of it, so that’s going to be a whole team concept.

On if he’s comfortable with the young defensemen and if their experience is going to make the team better next year…
DS: Well I would certainly think so. Players — like Torey, has played in different situations and roles this year that he hadn’t been and Kevan Miller did, so there’s always growing pains. You don’t trade anything for experience in this league. You have to go through it and at times, ride some ups and downs. All young players will go through it, and we obviously have a great core group of guys that can help and Claude’s system and our coaching staff is committed to making us play the right way. A recurring theme is that we’re still a difficult team to play against, but we need to get back to being even more so. We found ways to score goals last year, we’ll continue to do so, we have a great group of guys and we have a driven group. So I feel comfortable in that regard, moving in the right direction with where we need to get back to.

On if he still has moves in play where he would trade roster players to free up space…
DS: For me now, it’s strictly about trading or doing whatever we have to do. The flexibility piece is there. Now, we just need to make it happen, be it through trade or free agency, we’ll continue to improve. Players on this roster or whatever we have to do — there are certain players that I’ve mentioned before that are a big part of our group in winning and we’re very, very unlikely to move. But discussions will come down with different general managers — they’re going to want, they’re going to have the asks, and I do, too, so you have to try and make it work and you realize that good players are exchanged and it’s not a fun process, but in order to improve your team, you’re going to have to give something up.

On the big-time trades and if it says that there aren’t any untouchables on rosters…
DS: Again, marquee names, players that were traded, both teams have to feel like they’re trying to improve their hockey club. From an untouchable standpoint, I think everybody has guys that they feel that way but when another player is presented, if it lines up because you think it’s going to improve, those things happen. It’s case by case. I think you do have to go into it knowing that you’re likely giving up a very good player when you’re treading into this water and you have to expect it. But I think everybody’s just, like I said, looking to find the right player for their situation, as is the other team.

On the draft and if he was surprised at the asking prices of the type of defensemen he was coveting…
DS: No, I don’t think I’m surprised. I think the other general manager would like to extract as much as he can. You know, you wonder how much the draft and the capital there, how much currency — what they value in that — and you hope things would line up. And if they don’t, you can set your franchise back. We’ve been committed to the planning process through this whole phase that we’re in, and we’re going to get through it. We’re going to get through it as a very, very deep organization and make hopefully the calculated moves that we need and continue to get better. I’ve always said, it was a lot about the trade deadline last year — our core players had put us in a position to challenge for the Stanley Cup and get into the playoffs, and we were committed to try and improve that. We fell short, we’re right back on the doorstep of continuing to improve our hockey club and exploring every opportunity that we can. The ownership group is very committed to getting us back to winning. That’s the goal.
#06/30/16#
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