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Transcript from Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney from 9/11

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS PRACTICE QUOTES

Thursday, September 11, 2014

BOSTON BRUINS ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER DON SWEENEY
On his approach going into this rookie tournament…
Well, it’s an exciting time. Obviously it kicks off a training camp environment. These kids have worked awfully hard to earn an opportunity to come. We talked a lot about opportunity within the organization itself and the competitiveness. You know, as we’ve talked about in prior years with Development Camp, you try and get an impression, you try and understand expectations. Well, this is really about competition about jobs now, and your career and the path that you’re choosing as a professional hockey player. So, it’s time to put your best foot forward.

On if there are specific guys he plans to single out to warn that this is an important camp…
Well I don’t think any one person needs to be singled out, especially on day one. They know they’re being evaluated now, each and every day. From their testing, from the time they step on the ice, and now will play some games against their peers where kids get acclimated before they really step to that next of competition in a main training camp environment with the veterans for a National Hockey League job. So, it’s important. It’s important to go out, and as I said, make the impression, understand what it takes, you know, for a pro mentality, and we have some players that played in Providence last year [who] will take leadership positions this week as well. It’s important. It’s important for them to continue to grow for their own development.

On if he was happy with results from conditioning testing…
There’s always a few players that, you know, self-select that they’ll have to have you know some supplement talks with [John] Whitesides and general conversations to understand that they’re behind in some areas. And other players have really showed some nice progress, and they’ll be, you know, commended for that and realize that that’s just a step in the right direction. It doesn’t…All it does is set them up for hopeful future success because they’ve done a lot of good work from the time we saw them before until the time they’re here now. I think it bodes well for them to have that understanding that they need to do extra work and the other guys that are behind will realize that they didn’t, they didn’t do enough.

On his overall impression of David Pastrnak and any progress he’s had…
I mean, I love his infectious personality and really, he just shows up wanting to play hockey and get better. He came over early on his own right to sort of get acclimated. He’s made a few trips back and forth, which, you know, asked him, is he tired at all? You know, he gives us a smile, no way. This is about wanting to play hockey. His skill set sort of separates him at times because it’s awfully good. Now it’s, you know, we’ve got him playing some Center and some Wing, just to get him comfortable. But he’s excited and we as an organization to have him part of our group.

On if he saw David Pastrnak at Juniors this summer…
I did not see him since then. We had other people. Ferg [John Ferguson] was there this summer and saw him play in that as well. We’ve all seen him play an awful lot of hockey and we’re excited about where he is now, but also where he can be in the future for us.

On what he’s expecting from those who are here on a tryout basis…
It doesn’t change really for three other guys coming in, Bracken Kearns and Steven Gagne, and Ville Leino. These guys all are here with an opportunity in front of them: to make an impression, albeit in this situation the window might be very short. It might be very narrow for them to, to sort of put a foot in the door and kick it open. I told them that last night, that they need to come out and don’t hold anything back, don’t be nervous about the situation they’re in, just come and put your best foot forward as a hockey player and as a person to try and carve out a little bit of a niche for yourself. And get in front of somebody. You push somebody out of the way in this business to get a job and the earlier they understand that the better off they’ll be. As I said, it’s a competitive business and we expect to see them try and compete and earn. Earn an opportunity with us because we’ve played players at times being in Providence on tryouts ahead of players that had contracts because they were playing better. [In] the National Hockey League, you know, if a guy is a better player than the other guy, the decisions will be made accordingly.

On the advantages of having a rookie tournament instead of practices and double sessions…
Well, it’s a real good evaluation tool. I think when you get to have some practice time with your own players so you do get to know them, and have some teaching moments, they also get to play against their peers. You know, players that are at the same level as you and starting out as pros or first year pros. So you’re controlling that environment a little bit and the players on the other side are highly regarded prospects in the other organizations. So, it’s an interesting time, it’s an evaluation tool I think for your own players as well as the players on the other team, and it does allow the players as young pros to sort of ease themselves into a training camp environment. Because the training camp stuff gets kicked off and ramped up pretty quickly.

On what he learned of Seth Griffith as a first year pro last year…
Seth Griffith? Seth had a really good year. He really, you know, he got off to a bit of a slow start. Bruce [Cassidy] and I had some conversations at times that you know, from a pace standpoint, is he going to be able to make that jump? And all of a sudden he just started to take off. I mean his hockey acumen, he’s got great skilled hands, you know he wants to make plays, he’s got more grit than what people might have originally addressed. He’s a thicker kid than what necessarily comes across quickly. He’s not tall but he’s thick so he goes to the areas of the ice, he wants the puck in all situations, and he produced. And that’s hard to hold a kid back and you’ve got to continue to put him back in those primary roles because he’s earned it. And Seth did that. He showed a really nice progression in the first part of the year where he needed to get up to speed, and once he did, you know Bruce [Cassidy] put him in situations that he could really take advantage of his skill set. And Seth responded in all those areas. We talked a little bit about you know, picking up a half a step and his size and going back to work this summer not needing to be…you know he’s probably been told he’s too small to play at times, and now he’s not too small to play. You know, he’s got to be as efficient as he can with the size he is at, and then go to use the skill set he’s been provided and he’s worked on. He’s, I think players enjoy playing with Seth because he has the ability to make good plays.

On what he is looking for out of Malcolm Subban this year…
Well Malcolm, you know, you’d like to see him want the pressure of being starting goaltender if it’s here or in Providence, or wherever he ends up playing the course this year. This past season there was sort of a buffer -- you know, Nik [Svedberg] was the heir apparent coming in and Malcolm was challenging for playing time and earned it and responded very well. Now, he’s got another level of competition with whoever it’s going to be. It’s Tuukka [Rask], it’s Nik, it’s Jeremy [Smith], it’s Adam [Morrison], they all want the net and there’s only one there. So once you earn it you want to keep it, you want to take a team in your shoulders that he’s used to in Juniors and carry it and take it as far as you possibly can. He’s a competitive kid, he wants to play, and now I think he has a better understanding of the daily habits that it takes to play. You know, don’t be satisfied that you got the start on Friday, then go well, maybe I won’t play again until Sunday. No, you might be right back in there we’ve just been on the road, playing again on Saturday night. Those are things that a player has to go through more than once to sort of understand it, and I think he’s excited for that type of challenge.

On the learning experience and evaluation for Linus Arnesson as his first time here…
I think it’s going to be really important for Linus. The smaller ice surface for defensemen over here, where plays and forechecks happen that much faster, especially the second they go for the attack I’ve always said when I go over and watch the defensemen play in Europe they have that false sense of security that if F1 on the fore check hasn’t done a good enough job, the rest of the fore check sort of peels away, and the defenseman is able to pull pucks back and have a little extra time. That doesn’t happen nearly as often over here in North American ice surface. So I think it’ll be really good for Linus to be put into those situations to make decisions under maybe more duress than what he’d be accustomed to. I love the fact that he’s in so much better shape than he was in Development Camp, we’ve seen him today and realized that he’s done a lot of good work from the time he went home and came back. So I think we’re excited to see him go and play these games this week, and we’ll see where it goes for training camp. Hopefully he can continue to progress and get in games. You know, likely the master plan would be he goes back. But, you never know. Players themselves dictate who plays and who stays, and who doesn’t. But I know his team over there is excited to have him come back if that does happen.

On if they went up a level…
He went up a level. He had gone on to the elite league and, which would really be a good challenge. The pace of play, and hockey over there is very good. The pace of play in the elite league, it went along the lines of what I talked about before, putting him in pressure situations. But I’m excited to see him play over there.

On Brian Ferlin…
Brian spent three years at Cornell and had a real good frame when we first saw him and drafted him – athletic build, explosive. When you look at his vertical jump numbers , yourealize there’s an athleticism to Brian Ferlin that translates to the ice. He’s a powerful guy, shoots the puck well coming down the wing. I think he’s done a lot of good work. He spent the entire summer up here in Massachusetts training with a group and I think he’s excited to get his pro career underway. I think the organization is excited about the progression he’s made as a player. He’s a guy who protects pucks and cycles pucks really, really well. It’s probably the strength of his game, from the tops of circles down, but now you realize how much quicker he gets up to speed and goes by his defensemen. Once he gets sort of acclimated to the systematic stuff -- Cornell does a good job defensively. Mike Schafer did a good job preparing him that way, so I think he’ll make that transition smoothly. But again, it’s another level and I think that’s what rookie camp will represent for Brian, as well, to sort of get some nerves out and just jumping into the mainstream thing where you’re trying to make a hockey club. You can make some mistakes in rookie camp and sort of learn from them, and then you get to main camp and you realize, “I know some of the things I can now get away with.” So we’re very excited. It was a tough decision for him to make to leave school – we would have supported him either way – but we’re very excited he’s now a part of our organization.

On the importance of development when there is not much flexibility under the cap…
I mean, I’ve always been of the belief that development is going to play a huge role, regardless of where you are on the salary cap side of things. Teams that have their own internal cap would realize that they have to continue to bring players through their organization because you can’t replace them, be it the open market, trading’s difficult in this league as well, so you have to grow them, you have to draft them, you have to develop them and then integrate them into your lineup at different points of time. This year will be no different than any other year for us. We have to be able to find and develop the players that can continue to sustain the level of success that we are going to hold ourselves accountable to, and our core group of players understands that, they go out and teach that, and our coaches certainly enforce that. And Peter’s [Chiarelli] done a tremendous job of keeping our core group together that have grown along, and then hopefully we’ve done a decent job of surrounding them, and then the players themselves can grow and be put in roles where they can succeed and contribute.
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