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Bruins GM Don Sweeney Trade Deadline Press Conference

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins

BOSTON BRUINS QUOTES

TRADE DEADLINE

Monday, February 29, 2016

GENERAL MANAGER DON SWEENEY PRESS CONFERENCE AT 5:00 PM

On when he knew he wasn’t going to move Loui Eriksson

Three o’clock. No, in all honesty I certainly had evaluated over the course of months really as to whether or not Loui [Eriksson] was going to be assigned before the deadline. We’ve been in contract negotiations; we’ll continue to talk with Loui and his group. I’ve always valued the type of player that Loui is. The season he’s having I think is important for where our club is and if the deal wasn’t going to be right, that we were going to maintain our position. If you look around the league I don’t think any team currently in a playoff position traded a player of Loui’s magnitude, and correct me if I’m wrong as well I think one first rounder was exchanged. So the deal had to be right – it has to be right for this organization for me to do that and that’s what I’ve been entrusted to do and I’m going to continue to do that. And for me, Loui Eriksson is an important part of what we’re doing now, being in the position that we’re in. It could be also for an extended period of time if we do find a deal, and it works in conjunction with the bigger outlook of our organization going forward and what we’re trying to do here.

On if there was a package that Winnipeg got for Andrew Ladd that was available to him for Loui Eriksson

Well I’ll never discuss what packages or players or anything that was presented to us. Again, there was one first rounder exchanged the entire deadline period. So for me the deal didn’t work. And I said before, my preference was to try and explore and to continue to explore signing Loui and indicated to him that he’s an important part of our team as we are right now and hopefully going forward.

On if they were able to close the gap at all today in terms of Loui Eriksson’s contract negotiations…

The simple answer is no we did not. I don’t know if we spent a lot of time trying to close the gap as of today. I think I knew their position and they certainly know where ours has been and it was about whether or not something might present itself. But I also indicated our preference all along was to remain the type of team that’s competitive in a playoff run and Loui’s a big part of that. But again, I’ll always do what’s right for the organization. If it had been presented as such then we would have evaluated and maybe have done something. But I think it does indicate to Loui how much we do value him.

On Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles…

Yeah, clearly we wanted to continue to add to this hockey club, you know. We looked at the number of transactions this past year and the acquisition of picks and prospects that we’ve accumulated and felt that we were in a position to protect our two firsts and our second this year. It’s clear that we gave up some that other teams will use and that’s part of the business especially this time of year. But we talked with a lot of teams about different prospects that they may or may not have been after. I felt that the draft situation and relinquishing some of those in order to acquire a player of Lee’s versatility – the type of year he’s having I think will complement our group very well. He can play in a bunch of different positions for us. And John-Michael Liles is another player that brings a lot of versatility to our group. I think we’ll have the ability to have a guy with experience that can move the puck and complement, again, some of the hard and heavy guys that we have and go in and hopefully play an important role going in. They’re both excited about joining the Boston Bruins and the opportunity to get this team back into the playoffs and move forward.

On if he regrets not getting Stempniak on a PTO over the summer…

Well clearly if we had known he was going to have 40 points and such and the type of year he’s going to have I would think that 29, 28 other teams would’ve felt the same way – and might not have made acquisitions that they made. [But you did get a good look at him?] Well I think everybody in the league at that point in time had had a previous look at him from, you know, he’s had a long career. That’s nothing to take away from Lee [Stempniak] – he’s had a tremendous season. And that’s why we went out and made the acquisition because he’s going to fit into our group and hopefully continue to do that. And then we’ll get in even closer, you know, to see how he fits and we’ll explore maybe going forward to see how he fits. But for right now it’s most important that we went out and acquired a player that’s had a great year and that can fit into our group because of his versatility.

On if he ever offered Stempniak a PTO and if he chose the Devils PTO over the Bruins…

Yes. [Did you offer him a PTO though?] Yes.

On if there were any deals that he would like to make now that might have been more realistic for the summer and if so did moving some draft cap right now tentatively impact that negatively…

Well DJ I think I might take a couple days to not play fantasy, you know, in terms of what may or may not transpire at the cap. I think we maintained a very, very strong position with two first rounders and a second this current season as well as the prospects that we think so highly of. And moving this organization forward, being able to implement several of those players as early as next year and certainly in the coming years, to surround what I think is a very admirable core group that has led us to where we are today. We’ve had other players that have certainly stepped up a number of times, but our players in a lot of ways and our coaching staff and the work that they’ve done and put us in a position and hopefully we continue to maintain and grow. Moving forward in the last 19 games they certainly have earned that right in my opinion – to have a group that was supplemented today.

On building the roster for the future with draft picks, acquisitions and free agent signings…

They’re difficult to acquire, and again, your best avenue is likely to draft and develop and maintain that, and be in a position where you can extend that contract when you’re in a cap situation, which I think we’ve now put ourselves in a situation that we can do that at the appropriate time, and I certainly hope to maintain that position going forward. There’s no crystal ball in that regard as well because different circumstances dictate different things, and when you might get yourself in cap situations or trouble. Nobody knows whether – the cap isn’t necessarily going up, and you have to see that on the horizon as well, but it’s not an easy situation. It’s not an easy thing to juggle. But I think we will be in a position if that’s what we hope to do, and I still think we can certainly supplement our team in that regard. It’s an area we’re going to try to address, and I think we have a lot of players in our current system that will continue to challenge in that same vein. I really do. I believe the guys we have on the horizon — a couple of guys coming out of college — I think guys are going to be able to step in and play.

On Zac Rinaldo, Max Talbot and Joonas Kemppainen

Yes, Max [Talbot] cleared waivers. We’ve assigned him to Providence. Joonas [Kemppainen], we also assigned to Providence, and Zac Rinaldo, we also assigned to Providence. He does have a hearing tomorrow for the hit last night, so we’ll see where that goes for him. I think, as I mentioned yesterday, it was about getting ahead of the deadline to have some flexibility, depending on the players that may or may not be acquired. Very difficult conversations to have with players at that particular time. And then I’ll sit with Claude [Julien] tonight and spend some time to look at our roster going forward. You have to manage the recall situation, and now, it’s about putting forth the best team on the ice that we possibly can each and every night to win our hockey games and get us where we want to be.

On his first trade deadline as a GM…

Well, there’s no question it’s a roller coaster. You’ve got a lot of conversations going on with a lot of different people, and everybody’s on, at times, on a fishing expedition as to what may or may not transpire, and it’s a challenge. You have to rely on your staff a lot, and our guys were really good – from months ago, we started to plan this, and I’m thankful for them. I’m thankful for the support from the ownership in Cam [Neely] and Charlie [Jacobs] and Mr. [Jeremy] Jacobs, too. It’s not easy to let them know we’re going to give up a second rounder for this, but in the grand scheme of our planning, we’ve had a lot of these discussions, and a number of acquisitions we’ve made, as I referenced earlier – it really shaped the plan going forward, that we have a tremendous amount of young players that we’re going to be able to implement in our group. But it’s a challenge. No question, it’s a challenge.

On whether he could have made additional moves…

It’s about the right deal. And this team has performed as such that we’re in a pretty good position if we take care of business between now and the end. I think that’s important. We’ve said all along that I think we’re going to be a very competitive hockey club, and expect to be in playoff positioning, and we hope to maintain that between the next 19 games. And whether that’s proving ourselves right or other people wrong – doesn’t really matter what the motivation is. The ownership group, at the time that I was interviewed for this position, expected certain things to be addressed, be it the cap and flexibility there, to acquire some younger players that would be implemented into our group because of the cap situation on the horizon and that it may not be increasing. So we’ve tried to attack it in different ways, but part of the exercise of being a competitive team right now – being in playoff positioning – was to try and improve our hockey club, and hopefully we did that today.

On negotiations with Loui Eriksson moving forward…

I mean nobody knows what the landscape’s going to look like. There were several players last year that went to free agency and signed on – I know one player signed in September that felt like he was getting a particular deal. I’ll never begrudge a player for asking what he thinks he’s worth or what the market may bear. I was a former player; I have to respect that. I think the player himself has to respect where the organization is. We’ve made a significant offer; there’s a gap there. I’m not really concerned with leverage at that point in time. If a player believes, between now and the end of the year, this is where he wants to be, and if we find the right deal that fits, then we’re going to be able to find common ground. If we don’t, then maybe we’re into a marketplace that we’re looking at other teams that did exactly the same thing, in all honestly. There are several teams today that have expiring free agents that are a big part of their hockey club that may or may not hit the market, and I think that’s going to be somewhat more common going forward than maybe you’re attributing to the past.

On whether the window for building a team is trending more toward June rather than the trade deadline…

Well, I think parity factors in. Up until the last little bit, there were several teams that weren’t really selling, up until the last couple days. So again, that’s going to – I don’t know if that gets stretched out differently going forward. I know for a fact there weren’t a lot of high-end prospects exchanged during this deadline. There were a lot more picks. Several teams were trying to load up and get themselves in a position where they felt they could take a run. I think there were probably seeds planted during this period of time that might hopefully take root between now and June, when other teams may be looking to do things. And there will be teams that are evaluating – they thought they might be in a better position than they are currently. They may have to do things differently. But I think to your point, Fluto [Shinzawa], that yeah, I think the planning probably takes place after the deadline, between June more so than leading up to it to significantly improve your club post-deadline, especially for teams that aren’t currently in the playoffs.

On his read on the Bruins with 19 games left in the season…

Well, a lot of it’s – I’m incredibly encouraged. You look at the Dallas game – I think it’s a great indication of what we’re capable of doing. I do believe we need to tighten up. We’ve made some mistakes, whether it was earlier in the season and even last night, that we’re going to have to limit those going forward. At times, we’ve been comfortable playing close games, but at other times, especially at home, I think we’ve struggled to maintain. I believe a player like Lee [Stempniak] would help us in that regard. I’m hoping that John-Michael [Liles] will transition the puck to help us in that regard as well and complement the group. I’ve been impressed with, as I said, with the leadership from our group that has us in the position we’re in right now, in conjunction with the coaches working with some of the other players till we integrate them, and I think that we’ve got every bit as good a chance as everybody else to get into the playoffs and see where it falls. Clearly, there’s probably one team that separated themselves in the East, but the rest of us are sort of in a pretty good hunt, and there are teams behind us that are probably thinking they can reel us in. So we’ve got some work to do, and certainly, starting with tomorrow, I think everybody takes a deep breath that this is the group moving forward, and they can galvanize as a result of that.

On whether Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles will be available for Tuesday’s game vs. Calgary…

We’ve put travel plans in place that we expect them to be in and available. So hopefully that will materialize.

On John-Michael Liles’ game…

Shot suppression comes in, but it comes in different ways. If you’re spending more time in the other end, chances are, you’re not giving up at ours, and at times, we haven’t moved the puck as crisply or as cleanly as we would like to. Hopefully, he’s going to continue to do that because we identified that he had been doing it. Carolina was a team that, we look at analytically – they had not given up as much as we have on particular nights, to tell you the truth. They’ve been a team that hasn’t scored at the level that we have, so hopefully, John-Michael [Liles] has been a part of that. He’s going to continue to bring that. He’s not what I’d call a prototypical shutdown defenseman, but again, you spend a little less time in your own end, you don’t have to defend, and hopefully, he can bring that to the table. I think he can complement the offensive part of it at the offensive blueline, be it second power play or last night, maybe even on the first one. We went 0-for-6. But our power play’s been pretty good during the course of the year, so I do believe he can bring both those attributes to the table.

On his conversations on deadline day with John-Michael Liles and Lee Stempniak…

Just about travel, and the fact that John-Michael [Liles] had already packed his stuff and was looking to get on a plane and excited. In 2013, when he played in the playoffs, he hadn’t played before that, so he was excited for the challenge to get back in and take a run. And same for Lee [Stempniak] – he was dumbfounded that he hadn’t had a contract going into camp last year, and the type of year he’s had, he wants to carry that forward. He’s been a big part of New Jersey’s success thus far this year, and he thinks he can come in and fit in really well in a bunch of different roles for our club. He knows our club really well. Haggs [Joe Haggerty] pointed out that he had skated in kind of pre-camp sessions with our guys. He’s got a good feel for some of the personnel that we have, and he feels he’s going to fit in well.

#02/29/16#

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