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Don Sweeney Transcript 9/22

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BOSTON BRUINS GENERAL MANAGER DON SWEENEY

On if there were any injury surprises…

No. We've got a couple guys that are going to have some follow-up tests. A couple of guys coming out of the rookie stuff. But, nothing too, too surprising. But, a couple things we're monitoring.

On the status of Matt Grzelcyk

Yeah, he has some follow-up as well. He's going to skate early to see how he feels before we definitely put him into one of the two groups going on tomorrow. He's one of the guys on the watch list.

 

On the status of Torey Krug and David Krejci

Both are fully good to go, to be integrated into practice doing drills. We'll call it a modified contact situation that we can control a little bit before they get fully ramped up, and then we'll just monitor their progress and how they're feeling throughout and game by game as to whether or not they play - however many they need, to tell you the truth. At some point in time, we'll have to address it; toward the end if they haven't played, but modified as needed. But, they've been cleared to participate.

 

On the plan for World Cup players who did not advanced…

Been in contact with most of them, but it's to be determined on a couple guys and when they're coming back, when they're flights are coming back. We'll give them a little bit of time, depending on how they're feeling and whether or not they have any bumps and bruises as well. We've got players that will probably be chomping at the bit to - in David's [Pastrnak] case, to continue to play. And then, you've got David Backes that's integrating into a new team. So, we'll monitor that. We'll probably give them a few days because they've been playing for a little while. Obviously, they're up to full speed.

 

On if he was concerned seeing Brad Marchand go through concussion protocol at the World Cup of Hockey…

I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about it. I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk. But, you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. But yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.

 

On the status of Linus Arnesson and Zach Senyshyn.

Yeah. Both are doing better. Linus is going to start to skate tomorrow with the main group and see how he feels, and so is Zach. So, again, a little bit of modified contact for them and we're going to monitor and see how they feel as they go along and hopefully they don't have any setbacks. But they're both doing better.

 

On how important it is for veterans to embrace building the team after missing the playoffs…

Well, it's important for everybody. It's not just - leaders have to lead, but they're generally your best players. Several of them had very good years last year and we fell short. So, they're realizing they need help and the people around them have to be better. Better players, better team, better result. That's the bottom line and I know our players have renewed enthusiasm and energy coming in because they realize that we're all trying to find areas that we can continue to improve. There will be opportunity for some younger players to step forward on that regard and I think our older guys are looking forward to embracing it. I think Claude [Julien] has talked a little bit about that. You've got a new staff; you've got new medical people who are involved in the quality of care for the players. Just finding a way to walk through the door each day and get better, and realizing we have to.

 

On if the off-ice testing reflects the team culture and team message…

No, it's definitely not too deep. If you look around and realize the phrases on the wall are put up by design, the comradery, the guys going in the weight room and cheering each other on as they're testing themselves. There's pride involved, but there's also benchmarks that we have expectations for all of our players. There's younger players that have to realize they have to hit their own benchmarks as they go through. The older players are realizing that they're trying to maintain and be as efficient as possible. I think it's all part of the culture. Absolutely.

 

On if today's off-ice testing went well and as expected…

Yeah. We haven't got - we haven't broken them down yet. The eye-test would be that everybody is fit and ready to go. There'll always be a couple areas. That's why we have a nutritionist, we have strength people to continue to find the gaps. We're doing a little bit more imbalance looking - looking for imbalances in the makeup of players, so we're going to scratch below the surface there. You might have a weakness on the left side, right side, that you weren't even aware of. So, we're going to try and continue to move that needle as far as we can.

 

On if the Shea Weber/P.K. Subban trade surprised him…

Well, two marquee players. So, at times, there have been a lot of players that have been moved on their respective teams. On analyzing with a top-level forward goes for a top-level D, that's the marketplace. I've never said that I won't make a trade for the right reasons. But, I have to be careful there. We've got a lot invested in our younger players and I'm not going to turn the page on that. Correct me if I'm wrong, I think there's been some criticism and rightfully so in terms of doing that. And I want to make sure we're not doing that moving forward. But, I've been in the marketplace and will continue to be. If I can find a better player to help our team, that's what we're going to do.

 

On what would be a success with Peter Mueller…

Again, you'll have to determine that and where he's at. He's been very respectful of the opportunity and coming back. I think he's appreciative of being away from the game. So, we'll see how that translates on the ice. It hasn't, up until this point, for his overall NHL career. So, that's on him to see what he's going to come in and do. He told me to have an opportunity to at least prove that that's genuine and that he can.

 

On Peter Mueller's skill set…

Really shoots the puck well, can protect it. Has great hands. He's always been a little - the speed, not a top level speed from a separation standpoint. He's had some injuries that he's battled, so now he's got to realize the majority of goals are scored between the rings and you've got to have the courage and stuff to go in there. Let's see whether or not it will be here and how he does, how he finishes.

 

On his observations of the rookie camp in Buffalo…

I thought they acquainted themselves well. Obviously, we're missing [Zach] Senyshyn. [Matt] Gryzelcyk and [Linus] Arnesson didn't play in the second - Arnesson didn't play in either game, excuse me, and Gryzelcyk missed the second game. We had a couple of invite guys that came in and did well. But, we were led by what … would say are our top players. But, even the guys like the … and [Sean] Kuraly's, and players we expect to provide energy in shorthanded situations each scored a goal there. Physicality was good in that regard. I thought we matched up - even when we got ahead and the Buffalo group sort of came out with a lot more energy - I thought our guys stuck together pretty well. I'd like to see - there was probably 13 feet of defensemen in the box there twice with [Brandon] Carlo and [Rob] O'Gara in two separate situations. But, I was excited with the passion our guys were playing with and to go out right from the drop of both pucks in both games, we really took control of the early part of the game to dictate as opposed to sit back. We got a little bit on our heels as the other team made a push late in the game. But, I thought our players acquainted themselves very well.

 

On if he expects Jake Debrusk to challenge for a roster spot…

You see it in his smarts in and around the net. And hands, he doesn't need three chances to bury one. Most of the time, it's one and done, or two. Physicality as the camp goes along, we'll see how - and the pace. All those things. Last year, I felt that his hockey sense showed up as he played with better players. I think that's - you're not going to have to change that. But, again, it's a whole different animal when you're talking about competing for an NHL job and taking somebody's job as opposed to last year where he was going through camp for the experience more so than not. Now, he's got to come in and compete. That's for everybody. They have to come in and compete to take somebody's job.

 

On if Zac Rinaldo is eligible to play in preseason games…

No. That's been cleared by the league. He's eligible to play in preseason games. He has a little bit of a lower-body injury that he's nursing right now so he won't be out for the first couple days of camp. And, we'll monitor and see. But, he doesn't have any restrictions in preseason. He's still under suspension for the regular season and would have to serve those. But, he doesn't have any restrictions for the preseason.

 

On how you stimulate playing with speed…

I think it starts in practice. I think you practice the way you're going to play. I know our coaches have spent an awful lot of time this summer in looking at the drills and some of the things they're going to do to incorporate that into it. It's a mindset of the players to play that way. I think the players would like to play that way and dictate rather than being on sort of a retreat mentality. I think that's what we'd like to do. We'd like to, hopefully, spend as much time in the other team's end as possible and that generally comes from moving your feet.

 

On if he thought there was too much of a retreat mentality last year…

No, there were stretches of time where I thought we scored enough goals. It wasn't about being on offense or lack of offense. At times, I thought last year, we got loose in some areas and didn't defend as a five-man unit as well. You can talk about whether or not that's anybody's one responsibility. I few had different types of defense, maybe it does change the tide in that regard. Or, Tuukka [Rask] would say for stretches last year, he was excellent. Other times, he wasn't as good. That's a whole team wide thing. I think that's what Claude [Julien] is talking about. A team wide philosophy to play faster paced hockey. Especially when you have the puck and you can dictate as opposed to when you're trying to get the puck back.

 

On if he assumes Tuukka Rask can have a better year if the defense was different…

Well, we always hope that every player has the best year they can have. So, that's a factor in it. Hopefully, that's the case.

 

On if they look at how Ryan Spooner has to perform on face-offs when deciding whether or not he plays center…

No, it's more than that. But, you have to start with the puck. But, when you're not and the other team knows it, especially on the road at times, that becomes a frustrating exercise for coaches. People have talked about the number of centers we've necessarily put on this hockey club and you'll be hard-pressed to find any coaches - and I think one's in Toronto right now - my last count has about ten or 12 guys that played center. It's going to help. It doesn't mean that the ownership, as Ryan [Spooner] would talk about, is any less on him. Because if he can do it and he's more than capable of doing it, than that's growth in his game and he recognizes it, and hopefully he does. That leaves other guys in position. But, if he doesn't, we have help being able to help take some load off him in that regard. So, we can support him. I look at that as more of a player and a player that's still young in some of those areas that he can continue to grow. But, he's more than capable, it's just a matter of working at it.

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