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Don Sweeney Transcript - Dev Camp Day 1

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS DEVELOPMENT CAMP QUOTES

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BOSTON BRUINS ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER DON SWEENEY

On what he is looking to see from Malcolm Subban…
Well we told him to drink a little bit more water on a hot day. [laughter] I think, you know, somebody asked me earlier why was Malcolm, as a pro, in this camp. As a young goaltender, we felt that the time he would be able to spend with Goalie Bob [Essensa] would be very, very instrumental in continuing his development. So, he had a really good first year, had some ups and downs, had to fight through some things and try and try and battle for net. So I think it is healthy for him to be around kids really his own age really, to be honest with you, even as a first year pro. So we’re happy that he’s here and going to be able to take advantage of that extra time.

On Malcolm Subban’s reaction to being asked to participate in Development Camp again…
‘Hey man, whatever you want.’ He’s very easy- going that way. Great nature, and really wants to be on the ice. Felt that he would be able to take advantage of it as I described it and was very, very receptive.

On the depth of Bruins in goal, with Zane Gothberg and Malcolm Subban…
Well that’s a good thing from an organizational standpoint. I think it’s healthy for the competition, I think you saw goaltenders in the last couple of years that have gone on to other organizations that have come in and played well for us. So I think it’s a necessary thing to have. I think they’re spaced out accordingly to be able to come in and develop at the right – I mean, the players themselves will always dictate how quickly they can make it and establish themselves as National Hockey League players and goaltenders really aren’t any different – but I think the book on goaltending is that you should be patient to allow them to go through some ups and downs and experiences. Tuukka [Rask] is a great example of that of spending time in the American League, coming up, having an apprenticeship so to speak and then getting the net. Timmy [Thomas] taking it back and obviously Tuukka [Rask] now establishing himself as the guy. And Niklas [Svedberg] is no different, he’s going to try and go in and be that backstop, you know, the complementary piece to Tuukka and the other guys are going to move along the path that they're supposed to be. Zane’s [Gothberg] in a really, really competitive program, he had a really good year last year and in the same fashion that he took the net, he was battling another teammate for the same position and he took the line and shared the games. So he, you know, hopefully he wants to go back to – you know he fell just a little bit short of getting to where he wanted to be. He was adamant in saying he wants to go back and try and get back to that same level as the go-to guy going in to the season. And the other guy is probably going to try and steal the job from him. So again, those are healthy environments for any player and in particular, I think goaltenders, to be placed in.

On how beneficial it is to not have to rush Zane Gothberg into the system…
Well again, I think the players dictate when they are ready. He wasn’t ready to go to college after we drafted him, you know? He spent a couple years extra in the USHL (United States Hockey League) and played a lot of games, grew up on and off the ice. I think he was much more prepared when he ended up going to UND (University of North Dakota) and I think you're seeing that. He was a sophomore last year but he was able to take the pressure in situations and did a nice job with it. Now he is really, really – you watch the progression on and off the ice, the maturity of Zane, he’s far different than he was a number of years ago and I think that’s healthy.

On what he is looking for and trying to get out of this camp…
Well you’d love to be able to tell the scouts they did a great job. I mean, that’s the first and foremost thing in terms of them identifying and all of us being excited, as we are, about each and every one of these players. And I’ve said this before, and I’ve said this to the players themselves, they should all feel welcome whether they are an invite or whether or not they are in their fourth year of participating. They should feel like the Boston Bruins have identified they’re willing to work with them and we want to see where they might fit into where we want to go and what we are trying to accomplish as an organization. And they can all be a part of that. Is it unrealistic to believe that they are all going to play for the Boston Bruins? Probably. But that doesn’t mean you don’t walk through the door and try to establish yourself as a potential National Hockey League player and that’s what I think each and every one of these guys are feeling, or hopefully should feel, when they're here.

On what he likes about Development Camp…
Well it’s always different because you have new faces come in and I think that energizes everybody involved in the camp. There’s a lot of hard work, a lot of planning that goes in and a lot of people that chip in and don’t get a lot of credit from the organizational standpoint. You realize how many of our staff are always involved in it. So each and every one of the people associated with the camp should take a lot of pride because I think that we have developed players, as a result of it we have players that make our hockey club that look back – I’ve talked to Looch [Milan Lucic] and different guys, I’ve talked to Torey [Krug] and what his experience was. So we get feedback from the players themselves as well as the returning players. We continue to try and tweak it year to year to do things a little differently to give them a little different perspective as well as ourselves. So I think the camp sort of sets up a player to sort of understand what the expectations are when he rolls through the door down the road. Whether that is this year, next year or the following year so as I’ve always said, they're not staring at your toes when you walk through the door. You feel comfortable as a player trying to ultimately win a job at the National Hockey League level which is not an easy thing to do.

On the local aspect of some of the camp attendees…
Well for me, it has a little more because I played either with or against their dads, it means I'm old as well. [laughter] But it’s fun to watch these kids grow up in your backyard that you’ve seen them play and continue to develop. It’s a testament to the area and the quality of competition that Massachusetts and the area is producing these players. And it’s fun, they have a real – you know, you watch Ryan’s [Fitzgerald] family realize how exciting it is, both Ryans for that matter, and Grizz’s [Matt Grzelyck] family is a great story. They weren’t drafted because of the story but the best part about it is they get to add another chapter. And if they do go on to fulfill their dream, then it becomes that much better, that much more rewarding for everybody involved because the Bruins are part of the fabric of this community. Kids that grow up here routing for them, cheering for them, to have a chance to play for them you know, Mike Milbury said the same thing. It’s just a childhood dream and to be able to have some sort of piece of that I think is a great story.

On if the business aspect is challenging while interviewing the kids he’s known since they were little…
Well you can ask Ryan [Donato] because it was brought to my attention that we did challenge him in the interview in terms of the type of player and gaps in his game. And most times you have to call a spade a spade. You know, you’ve seen a player play and you have to get him to understand he has areas of his game that he has to work on. The best part about that is they have probably heard it from their dad who’s been through that experience and these players I think have a different perspective when they have respect for how hard and difficult it is going to get there but they have a confidence about their own, I think, where they fit in themselves and what their skillset is. But I don’t think from a business standpoint, you know, you lose your job pretty quickly if you misidentify. So I think from our standpoint, we have to get it right.

On where the organization has input about where Ryan [Donato] is going to go next year (college, or the USHL)…
We’ll actually talk to Ryan and his family and his advisor. The player obviously controls that. Does the organization obviously have an opinion? Yeah and we are going to share that with him as to what we think is best for his overall development both as a hockey player and personally and make a, hopefully, what we think is a collective decision. As I said, the family has the power to say yeh or neh but I think you should be in lock step with each other as to see what’s to come down the road and what’s best for him and we’re going to support whatever the decision is but I think we certainly will be out in front of it as to what we think is best with Ryan.

On how long it takes a taller player to develop his skating like Zdeno Chara, and what he thinks of Oleg Yevenko’s skating…
Well, I played against Zee [Zdeno Chara] when he first broke into the league and you realize the work and the body of work that he put in over that time to be the player that he is now, and the pride. We’ve gotten to know Oleg [Yevenko] as a player, watching him play, talking to people, realizing that he is not really going to leave a stone unturned to try and be a better player. He has physical tools that set him apart and identify him as a guy that you’re sort of like ‘wow’ if you can, if things do hit, he could be an imposing player. So we felt it was a great opportunity to have him come in in house and be amongst the guys that we know maybe even better than he and see where he sort of fits in and continue to watch him based on what his decisions will be.

On Robbie O’Gara being at his fourth camp and his physicality…
Well he is certainly filling out, he is well over 200 pounds now. He didn’t – that just didn’t happen over night, it was a progression piece. And we were cautious about Robbie [O’Gara] trying to go out and put on all this bulk and stuff and lose his athleticism and he’s done a nice job of sort of incrementally moving that a long. If you’ve watched him play over the course of his two seasons at Yale and realize how much he plays and the situations he plays and part of the National Championship team as a freshman, you know, I think you quickly understand that he has a lot of good tools, a lot of things that we are very, very excited about as a National Hockey League defenseman. He’ll have to continue to work on some stuff, he plays both of the sides of the ice as a lefty and a righty, as an offshoot/offside player – that is important. I think his offensive confidence has continued to emerge so he’s continuing to round out his game. He’s been a nice player to watch and see the progression and realize, again, there is no – this isn’t a sprint. You know, the finished product there is still well down the road but he’s made a lot of good strides and we feel really good about where he is and more importantly where he’s going to go to.

On the process with the undrafted kids after camp…
Yeah, I think the earlier you can get to know players as well as the organization, it’s going to give you a leg up if they go back into the draft or if they’re college free agents, you're going to be revisiting. We’ve encouraged over the years when we’ve had a player who is early, as in Billy Sweezey, he’s a case. He’s going to go off to school, he may have opportunites to go to see other camps and he should do that. He should have another, you know – and then when we circle back with him maybe we can do things differently and you make that connection, the introduction I think is important. If a player does become a college free agent then there’s a recruiting process to that. We get to know about him at an early age and find out whether or not he’s willing to do some of the things that we are going to watch, hopefully improve over the course of his college career.

On what he knows about Cole Bardreau…
Yeah, Cole – obviously we had Brian Ferlin at Cornell so we’ve seen Cole when you’re watching games, just doing an overlap. He was a big part of the Development Program, probably had a bigger profile during that than several other players and had an injury. He has come back from that very well and sort of looking to platform himself again and he fit in very well today.

On why Cole Bardreau wasn’t drafted…
Again, I think the injury piece probably played a factor in that and you’d have to ask him specifically as to whether or not that’s what teams have said to him. But we certainly didn’t leave site of him as a player and if you talk to people, you realize how dedicated he is physically to get back to the shape that he is in now. He’s part of a very good program, Mike [Schafer] does a tremendous job and most of the players understand the game, especially defensively, very well when they play at Cornell. He’ll probably have a bigger role offensively there this year.

On drafting NCAA players and if the programs where the prospects play have any bearing on the scouting and selections…
I don’t think the program themselves have bearing, the players, whether it’s [Alex] Globke, whether it’s Colton Hargrove at Western, Kyle Baun at Colgate, it doesn’t matter where the players are playing. If they're good players, they are not going to hide from the scouts if they're doing their job. So I think that this opportunity to get to know guys is part of the program, to talk to the coaches before and after and see how they have been affected either by their experiences here or other places. We had three kids who came in from Detroit’s camp last week. So other teams are identifying the same way we are. So I don’t know whether or not the program necessarily – they're all great. It’s a great league for the kids to continue to get better in. So it doesn’t matter what games you are going to watch, you’re going to watch the players. You're not necessarily cheering for the schools themselves.

On how the experiences differ for guys coming back to camp versus first timers…
Well I say they should get comfortable, or feel comfortable when they are coming back through the door because they have familiarity but they also should feel a little bit itchy because they know they are going to be judged on their progression and where they are. [John] Whitesides is going to grab them the first day and go through the body fat and their weights. So we want them acutely aware of the fact that they are being judged in that regard. How much work they put in, how much work they are going to be willing to do going forward and it is a big part of it, we talk about it at their exit interviews or talk about it during the week to identify early on to say, ‘hey, we think you dropped the ball in this area. What’s going on? What can you do better and tweak between now and when you’re going back to school so you can be even more prepared to have a great year’. You just can’t show up and expect it to happen just because you’ve been invited back. It’s a privilege I think to a degree to be invited to the camp. It doesn’t mean just because you’ve been drafted that it’s your right now to be here and I think guys should treat it that way and in a respectful manner. And I think for the most part they do, we’ve got some guys that we are going to address to say ‘you need to do a better job in some areas’. It doesn’t mean we’re discouraged by any means but we want them to understand that they have work to do.

On Danton Heinen not being at camp...
Yup, he’s enrolled in classes at Denver and Matt Grzelyck won’t be here tomorrow because he’s enrolled in classes at BU. If a player is a full time student at an NCAA institution, they cannot be excused from their classes, to miss classes, to attend a pro development camp. So that’s something we’re abiding by and Matt [Grzelyck] wont be here tomorrow , that’s a good example. And [Danton] Heinen is enrolled in classes, he’s not able to go to his professors and say ‘hey, i’m talking a weel off’, it doesn’t work that way and we’re going to respect the NCAA for that.

On what his impressions of David Pastrnak were today...
Probably getting used to his equipment that he borrowed from us [laughter from reporters], because he showed up with just his skates. I think the kid loves to play hockey, he loves to be around hockey and he’s smiling all the time. He really enjoys it, he cuts across the middle of the ice on a two on two that some defenseman are going to lick their chops and he’s going to pick up his helmet sideways probably at some point in time. But that doesn’t mean that he’s not going to try it again and I like that about him. I think when you talk to him, you guys will quickly understand, he’s got some charisma to him on the ice and I think that flare shows up as well. Eary he was over passing, sending back doors and all of a sudden two on twos show up and he’s ripping it by glove hand. So I think he has a bit of a flare on and off the ice and I like the excitement, I think it’s infectious for everybody and we’re excited to have him as part of the organization.
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