Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Boston Bruins

Transcript: 06.28 Don Sweeney Development Camp Presser - Day 1

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
2012 Development Camp Quotes

June 28

BOSTON BRUINS ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER DON SWEENEY

On how Dougie Hamilton has developed…
Well, I mean Dougie had a really, really good year, there’s no question that he was a dominant player at that level. I think he went back and worked on a lot of things that we addressed with him in terms of rounding out his game and decision-making and, you know, he’s such an athletic player to begin with that sizee and how he moves, but I think overall he just became a dominant player at that level and he’s ready for the next step, the next challenge and hopefully he continues to progress because that position is not the easiest thing in the world to learn at the NHL level, but we’re hopeful that he can come in and establish himself, but it’s up to him. Nobody gives him anything, but hopefully he can come in and make the next step.

On Hamilton’s height and weight, and if he has bulked up…
Yeah, there’s no question, he’s added some weight and some overall strength. Where he’ll be in September will be far different from where he is now, you can imagine he had a long year and hasn’t had the ability to add a lot of weight and you don’t want to do that in a short span anyway, you want to do that incrementally, so between now and September, I would suspect he’ll be bigger and stronger. I don’t think there’ll be a physical aspect to his game that we’re concerned about

On his first impressions of Malcolm Subban in the first practice…
Yeah, I mean, the athleticism you see right away and how quick he is in the net. The next thing he’ll understand is that the shooters are better at the next level as well. So, our goalie coach Bob Essensa will go to work on some of the things he’s already seen in his game that he wants to identify and improve upon. But he competes for ever puck and every save even in the first day in this environment, you know, most goalies don’t like to be scored on and he’s no different in that regard. But the athleticism I think and the push across the net is very impressive.

On Subban having played other positions before becoming a goalie at age 12…
I don’t know if there’s a direct manual in terms of when a goaltender starts – It’s really when he finishes up and stops pucks. I mean, maybe defensemen and forwards in particular should go back and throw the pads on every once in a while and get an appreciation for what goalies go through. From my personal perspective, I think everybody benefits from playing different sports and I think there’s a crossover effect, I think kids are more apt to specialize at a much earlier age nowadays and I think sometimes it has an influence on how they develop. So, I think he’s probably a better skater as a result of having started later on, but he enjoys the position, I know that, as he advocated - I’ve read stories and asked him about it. His father even referenced it when we met him on draft day, that he advocated for the position, which in itself shows self-confidence even at a young age, that somebody wanted to move, having played out, had, probably some successes as a player, moving to the different position.

On what he wants Dougie Hamilton to get out of this camp as opposed to the last camp…
Well again, it’s the habits. The stuff that we just introduced to him from an organizational philosophy and how we certainly play systematically. You know, has he sort of gone back to his year, his own team? it’s got to be different. But now, to step back into how we are going to play and how we’re gonna defend, be it in all three zones – that’s the stuff you want to start to allow him to process. Not overload, because this is about individual guys and their skill and their acclamation to the Bruins organization, so you want him to feel comfortable. I just want Doug to feel good about when he walks through the door, as I would all these kids, if they’re coming to compete for a job, that they feel really, really good about where they’re at. – both as people and professionals. Because it’s hard to push somebody out of the way to grab a job. I don’t see too many NHL guys wanting to give it up. You get old like me and they kick you out the door, that’s fine, but up until that point, most guys want to keep it. And a young player has to realize that it’s a steep hill to climb. And Doug’s no different I know he has a lot of acclaim and he’s gonna be just fine, but he’s got to go and push somebody out of the way. So the more he can process how we’re gonna defend and our systems and then allow his skill and abilities to take over, I think that we’re all excited as to what can come of that.

On where Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight are this year as opposed to last year…
I think both players are way ahead. Ryan’s a really, really talented player. You see the plays he makes on the ice and the speed he makes, that’s the stuff you get really excited about. And we’ve had the benefit of having him in Providence for periods of time in the last two years as well and playing some games, and getting him to understand the habits, the habits probably without the puck are gonna dictate, you know, when he arrives at the National Hockey League level and the strength, he’s gonna have to add strength. Knighter’s kind of a player that thrives in playing in straight lines and going to the net and playing in the dirty areas. He just has to realize that he’s been able to do some of the stuff physically at the junior level that at the next level, these guys are gonna be bigger and stronger and he’s gonna have to understand how to get that space back against bigger players that can push back as equally as hard as he can push. So there will be probably an adjustment period for him, for that matter, but he did fine last year and obviously this past year, he had a Memorial Cup run and wasn’t in Providence, which is great for him. The year before he came in and played some games and then acquainted himself very well. I think he’s a very focused young man that knows physically he’s probably ready for that next step and now he’s just got to understand that things move a little quicker at the next level and he needs to adjust. Experience is the only thing you can get to be able to go through that.

On how beneficial the Memorial Cup is to development, when players are put in that position…
I think anytime you have an opportunity to play that long in a season means you’ve had a very successful year. You know, obviously he’s [Jared Knight] disappointed not being able to finish what they had started but being in that environment, playoff hockey - you really can’t trade it, that experience stuff that you go through at any level, to tell you the truth, when you’re trying to win, and you know how hard it is and the guy across from you wants to win just as badly, those are things that separate players. Our business is about winning and there’s no question that we want those kids that want to be in that environment with that competitive nature and we’re glad that he brings that to the table.

On how adding goaltending depth affects the atmosphere of the camp…
I mean, it’s unique that we have six goaltenders. There’s no other way to describe it, to be honest with you, but I think some of that is just the timing. You know, Peter wanted to address, as you said, organizational depth. We feel very comfortable as to how, certainly Anton [Khudobin] has developed in our system, and Tukka [Rask]. We’re still wondering where the [Tim] Thomas thing, but that is for another day. These kids here understand that they’re putting themselves - there are different phases, I guess I should say, in terms of where kids are developmentally and goaltenders are probably unique in that category. Zane Gothberg’s just starting at North Dakota and we drafted him two years ago, so there’s no real clear-cut plan. They’ll dictate, sort of when they’re ready to come in and play, but I think goaltenders in general take a little bit longer in terms of hitting their peak at the pro level. So we want to be patient in that regard, not force anybody in there and just try and spread it out organizationally as to where these guys may or may not hit that peak but ultimately, they’ll determine that. I think that the fact that we’ve created some internal competition is really healthy. You know, Niklas Svedberg coming in with the pro experience and the successes he’s had overseas I think is going to be helpful for Michael Hutchinson, you know, whose trying to emerge as the go-to guy in Providence and play on the line-chair game, so that’ll be healthy competition there. Lars [Volden] will go back and play in Finland and he’s made that next step to go up to the elite league there and play, so you can see the steps that each and every one of these kids go through to get to that next level and gain that experience and [Adam] Morrison will do the same thing too – come in and push those two guys and see if he can knock them out of Providence. And if not, there’s the Jonathan Quick story that has so often been told. Go down and probably play you know at that level because the pro game is different. So you do, you try and space it out, but, and obviously [Parker] Milner is one, he’s right in our back yard and I think it was important for us to get to know him and see whether or not that winning attitude translates to the next level. So we wanted to get to know him.

On Alexander Khokhlachev’s plans for next season…
Well I think Peter [Chiarelli] will address that. We expect him to develop, if it is back in the KHL or playing over here. You know, if he makes our team coming out of training camp, then he’ll be playing here, so I think those things aren’t set in stone. I think we’ve sort of charted out a path for where he will be. I think he’s intrigued with playing at higher levels. You know, I think you saw in the World Juniors that when he plays with better players, I think his game is elevated. I think training camp last year did the same thing. He got better and better from the rookie games to the exhibition games. He has that skill level to be able to do that. From the same thing with [Ryan] Spooner – the habits, the strength, the things he needs to acquire between now and then and whether or not he can do that to make our team - that remains to be seen, but he’s certainly working in that direction. He has a better, clearer understanding of that. If he’s over in the KHL, then we have to be diligent to be able to stay on top of that. If he’s playing back over here, then we have a little easier path to try and do that.

On if Alexander Khokhlachev will come to training camp even if he plays in the KHL…
Yes.

On if his philosophy on the camp has changed over time…
I don’t think our general approach and philosophy has changed much. I think we’ve certainly tried to improve and tweak and find areas that we can do things better at both on and off the ice. I’ve talked to Milan Lucic a number of times about how hard the first one was, and we certainly didn’t have a blueprint or anything to go off of. We were just trying to see, ‘okay, how far can you push these kids and get them ready for what they’re gonna face in September?’ and the result of some of these camps are is that some of these kids have emerged, I think, ready and have competed and have won jobs as a result of that, and I think that’s the ultimate goal. Nobody makes a team out here this week. We’ve been very consistent in saying that. But the impression they make on us and hopefully we make on them – because some of these kids are invites and we’re equally as interested in them and where they’re development is. Torey Krug is a great example of that. Hadn’t been in our camp, but we certainly went out and followed him and recruited him as a result of being a free agent. So I think that all plays into how we go about setting up the camp in particular, and keeping it small in our numbers, so we do get to know the kids on a personal level, and hopefully they get to know us because we’re resources for these guys, and I want them to utilize and I want them to feel comfortable to ask each and every one of our staff that may be around because the questions that they may have should be answered.

On if the off-ice experiences are just as important as on-ice activities…
Yeah and I’ve had discussions with other teams that are not even going on the ice, so don’t think in the back of my head that I don’t turn around and say, ‘well is it working for them?’ I think you always have to do that and take the input from your staff - be it scouts, be it anyone - to tell you the truth, the guys that help drive the vans. The best part about this camp is that everybody in the organization really chips in and everybody pulls their weight in terms of - from the simplest of things of picking up lunch to the most important thing of the guys running the on-ice sessions or [John] Whitesides running the off-ice and I love that aspect of this camp, and I think the kids coming out of it feel that and they feel comfortable in that regard. So I’m grateful that the organization supports that and each and every one of us tries to chip in. There’s no one way to run the camp and I think that the off-ice stuff that we try and address and bring up, whether it’s with Matt [Chmura] to teach them how to handle questions that you guys might throw at, or the social media stuff that obviously continues to be an important part of the landscape of all of our lives has twists and turns to it that I think that all these kids need to be exposed to and educated on. Off the ice, we’ve run different environments of team-building things and we’ll do another one today, but again, tries to stretch them and take them outside a comfort zone - that you learn from, both as individuals and we learn about them.

On how Torey Krug handled the transition from college hockey to the Boston Bruins…
I thought Torey handled it very well. I thought he stepped into late-season games when the pace is usually pretty high and then playing the Pittsburgh Penguins your first time out is probably not the easiest thing in the world to do, and then going in on the road and playing out in Ottawa was another difficult task as those games were very meaningful for Ottawa at that particular time, as they were for us. We’ve obviously watched Torey for a long time and felt that he would be able to handle that and now the bar sort of resets for him. He’s made his impression, he did very well, and now he’s got to go out and, like I said, push someone out of the way and earn that spot and I think he’s excited to try and do that. He’s got some things that we’re gonna try and build into his game - as all of them - he’s not a ready-made guy but he’s got a lot of attributes that certainly separate him from some of the other younger kids.

On the long-term development of goalies…
Well I think you have to be aware of where they [the goaltenders] kind of see themselves on that trajectory as well, because some kids might look and see a roadblock there as opposed to an opportunity. And I think you have to get them to understand, ‘Like go through the process. You dictate.’ I haven’t met too many coaches that don’t play the goalie that stops the pucks, be it whether he’s older or younger. Now that being said, do you trust younger goaltenders or kids that don’t have that experience? That’s a balancing act. Most of the times, guys have to earn that trust and a lot of times, you earn it through experience and competing and winning at the level that you’re currently at and then moving forward. It’s pretty tough to anoint players and you’ve seen an awful lot of goaltenders in particular go into a situation and have some success early on and then have some real setbacks as a result of that. Might be team-related, might not be. But sometimes it’s like major-league pitchers going through teams for the first time. They haven’t seen a guy’s delivery and arm angle and release from the ball and all of a sudden they go back and watch it on video, and they hit it out of the park the next time through. Well this is no different. In the video-age of goaltending and the technical aspect of it, I think that Goalie Bob [Essensa] will certainly dial in where guys will say, ‘Listen, he’s gonna light you up here.’ We ask kids when they go through the combine, ‘Where did goals scored on you go?’ and if they have a weakness, report it. You don’t think the NHL guys are gonna find that as well? But it comes down to winning. It really does. Goaltenders can have great statistical things to back it up and it might work in an arbitration setting but the bottom line is, it’s about winning. The teams that win, I think the goaltender’s a big, big part of that. I mean, I haven’t seen too many Stanley Cup Champions that their goaltender hasn’t been either 1 or 1A at the end of the run.

View More