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Transcript from Boston Bruins Media Day Press Conference

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS MEDIA DAY

Thursday, October 1

BOSTON BRUINS OWNER JEREMY JACOBS, CEO CHARLIE JACOBS, PRESIDENT CAM NEELY, GENERAL MANAGER DON SWEENEY AND HEAD COACH CLAUDE JULIEN
On how he has seen the transition go from the offseason until now…
Mr. Jacobs: A number of new players have been brought in, so to that end, it’s a major change. On the other hand, there’s so much stability under there, within the coaching staff and the operations, I don’t think there’s significant change in that sense. But I think you have a lot of confidence in Donnie’s [Don Sweeney] leadership - he’s been here 10 years, and before that, he spent his whole career with us, pretty much, so there’s a lot of stability.

On if he made more cuts today…
Don Sweeney: Yeah, we did. We made a couple other transactions before practice and we’ll also make a couple. We have not spoken to a couple of the players, right here after practice, so yeah, we’ve cut down the roster significantly again today.

On if he knows when he’ll have a decision on the backup goaltender…
Don Sweeney: Well, we’re going to go through the rest of the other game tomorrow and we’re going to sit down as a group. Bob Essensa’s been working hard, in terms of analyzing from his side of it, as well as we are as a staff. I’m sure Claude [Julien] will weigh in on where he fits, where we think it fits in and it’s been a heckuva competition throughout camp. Our young players have played particularly well. Obviously, Gus [Jonas Gustavsson] was thrown a curveball with his first child being born to he and his wife and went off for a couple days, came back, was able to play last night, so we have a big decision to make, but we feel confident in being able to make that moving forward.

On the emerging young defensive corps and Zdeno Chara being a leader for them…
CLAUDE JULIEN: Well I think there’s no doubt that Zee’s [Zdeno Chara] experience comes in handy when it comes to the young players and I think we’ve all been — in our careers — in that position to have some young players around us and have been able to share our knowledge and our experiences. Throughout the years, it has helped us become better. That’s where Zee [Zdeno Chara] is extremely good in that role. He’s been like that for many, many years, so obviously might be in a situation where he’s been more of that role — for example, this year — but at the same time, I think we’ve got some exciting guys back there that’s going to help make our team better and grow in the right direction, so I see a lot of positives in that area. But you know, Zee [Zdeno Chara] is asked to do his job and do it well. We don’t want him to do more than he has to. Like I said, sharing your experience is something that we’ve all done and something that comes easy to him.

On his outlook on the kind of start to the season the team needs, versus what they would like to do philosophically with integrating young players into the lineup…
Well, that’s a good question because we’ve tracked in the past and by Thanksgiving, if you’re in the playoff picture, generally by the end of the year, you’re still going to be in the playoff picture. But you mentioned, this year we have a lot of younger players that I think well develop over the course of the year and develop over the course of the year and I think the coaching staff’s going to do a really good job in helping these players develop and I think we’ll see the team improve over the course of the season. But having said that, we still have enough players that have been around the game long enough and are good NHL players — really good NHL players that I think can help bring those guys along at a quicker pace and I feel like we can have a strong start because of that.

On what he saw or didn’t see from Alexander Khokhlachev during camp, and what he thinks about his comments that he doesn’t feel like he’s gotten a real chance…
DON SWEENEY: Well, all players are entitled to their opinion. I feel that Alexander has a tremendous upside skill-wise. He still has a lot to learn away from the puck. He needs to go through these experience. He’s only 22 years old, so I look at the big picture for all of our young players. They’ll determine when they’re ready to play and when they can help us at the National Hockey League level. I do believe he’s a player that can step in and whether he can play up and down the lineup sort of remains to be seen, but we want him to continue to work hard to fill in those gaps, be it face-offs — there are small details of the game that show up on the score sheet each night and you can look at the analytics side of things — those things can add up and the amount of time you play in your own end is the result of losing draws at times, it’s taxing on other players. There’s little areas of the game that every young player needs to go through and experience and come out the other side of it better. He wants to advocate for himself, so I don’t blame him for that, so that’s what I didn’t feel we needed to comment publicly on it.

On 3-on-3 overtime…
Don Sweeney: Well I think it’s an exciting part of the game. Obviously I saw the impact last year that it made at the AHL level, where the vast majority of games — 75 percent I think — were completed in overtime, rather than going to the shootout. The shootout will be there if it’s needed. I think the players are excited about it. You know, Claude’s [Julien] spent a lot of time in practice preparing the players to be put in those situations and I would assume the rest of the coaches around the league are trying to do it in similar fashion. But the players themselves have been excited about the change and adapting to sort of seeing — hey, you realize if you have a chance at one end, if you miss, the goalie doesn’t have some Velcro on it and chances are it’s an outnumbered chance going the other way, so I think it’s exciting for the game. It’s part of the game. It exists in a traditional part of the game, as far as when you go to 3-on-3, and the nuances we were talking about last night on the plane if you know, when the guy comes out of the box you’re in 4-on-4 and it changes for us all of us. But I think it’s exciting for the league going forward.
Cam Neely: Yeah, I agree, I’ve never really been a fan of the shootout so anything you can do to get rid of shootouts is fine by me. To Donnie’s [Don Sweeney] point, I like that Claude [Julien] had tried a few different things, whether it was three forwards or two forwards and a D and you know, I think it’s important for us to try those things, but yeah, the line changes are going to be important and making sure you hit the net because we’ve seen play go the other way and the game ends pretty quick.

On Dennis Seidenberg’s injury and Zdeno Chara’s day-to-day injury, and if there are players now that they can identify that are ready to take on bigger minutes…
Claude Julien: First of all, I don’t know if it’s because those two guys are injured. But I don’t think it has anything to do with their age. It’s just injuries that happen and unfortunately it happened to two of our veteran players back there. But I don’t agree with age. These guys are probably two of the guys who are in the best shape of our hockey club, so I think it’s a coincidence first of all, but second of all, I think there’s a lot of guys who have been around now for a long time and it definitely takes more minutes, there’s no doubt about that and we all know that transition comes along the way and some players grow in their roles and become better players, so they’re entitled to have more ice time. It has to come off someday, and most of the time it comes off people who have a lot of ice time, so I don’t see that as an issue — I see that as an asset. I still know that those guys can still play big minutes. If other guys can take some minutes away it means that you have a better balance and guys that are fresher down the road.
Don Sweeney: I mean I’ll follow up with the fact that I think that we used this training camp experience without those two players to our advantage to spread the wealth around, to spread some minutes around. You’ve got several players that acquitted themselves well. We played all our younger players up and down, we haven’t just been relying on our returnees. So that’s part of the transition that Claude [Julien] spoke about. We’re moving forward with some of these guys that we believe will step up. Guys that gain experience throughout the league night in a night out and it’s a growing process and we’re committed to allowing these guys to find their way, so to speak, within the framework. We haven’t changed the identity, as to how we’re going to defend. I think we’ve done a good job throughout training camp up and down our lineup and that’s a testament to the coaches and the way they’re going to approach the game and our players as the buy in.

On if he’s happy with Training Camp and if he sees progress…
Cam Neely: Yeah, I have seen progress and I think it speaks to our roster this year and players looking at pushing for jobs, and especially on the back end. And even the forward group we had some kids come in and probably, we had them stay longer because of the way they were pushing for jobs. And I think it’s important for us to continue to have those players throughout the organization that are going to push for jobs. And it makes the player feel safe, maybe a little less safe, which is always a good thing. And you know, I think competition is key, it really is. And you know, you never like seeing anybody het complacent and you know if you have competition coming from below it’s hard to get complacent.

On the new players that arrived this summer…
Charlie Jacobs: You know Caryn, I really like the new additions. The guys from the west coast, Matt [Beleskey] and Colin [Miller] really came in here…and in particular when Matt Beleskey came in I was very impressed with his attitude and frankly he jumped right into his position and acclimated well. Same with Hayes. I mean we’ve got some really, I think, good sort of gritty what I would call Bruins that I think will really resonate here with our fan base. So I like the changes that Don [Sweeney] has implemented over the summer. I think It sort of…it hasn’t been necessarily a reboot, but maybe just a refresh and when you look at it from that perspective- the amount of youth, that little bit of turnover that we had- I’m optimistic about this upcoming season and I’m very happy with what’s transpired.

On the team that’s been built and what he think it can accomplish…
Cam Neely: Well I mean I don’t have a crystal ball, but I feel our forward group is pretty deep. I think you know we’re going to get some more offense throughout all four lines. I think we’re going to be more consistent in that regard. You know I think our goaltending situation should be better than last year. I think we can reduce the amount of games that Tuukka [Rask] had to play from last year. And then from the back end I’m excited to see some of these guys develop, I really am. I think, you know, we know what they can do offensively. We’ve seen what they can do. Not all of them are the same but they you know the kids that we brought in, they skated extremely well. And like I said, with Claude [Julien] and his staff I think you know they can work with them on tightening things up on the defensive side so. I see us really improving throughout the course of the year. With the group that we have that’s new and the group that we have that’s returning I think I’m excited to see us get going in the regular season, but I really believe that we’re going to improve as the season goes along.

On if he sees this team as having a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs…
Cam Neely: Well I think you have to you know. I don’t want to put any expectations. Our goal is to compete for Stanley cups and you know we’ll see how the season plays out. We have some cap space which we haven’t had in a while so we have opportunities down the road if there’s a situation that arises where you know Don [Sweeney] feels like he can do something that can help us improve I really feel like we’ve got guys who want to compete for Stanley Cups on our roster. We brought in guys that do want to compete- they want to win. And you know we’ll see where things go throughout the season. But I like the fact that we have opportunities to improve if need be and that’s you know it’s a lot easier to do that when you can add without having to subtract.

On how he feels about his job security being tenuous as a head coach…
Claude Julien: Well to be honest with you it really isn’t a burden for me, it’s not a concern for me. As I’ve always said, we know as coaches what our job security is and it’s not very big. And you know we’re based on our performances and assessed by people that assess not just the wins and losses but the situation and the expectations. So I’m good where I am right now. I’m not even thinking about that. The only time I have to is when you guys ask me. [Smiles]. Other than that I just go, again I just do my jo I go out and do my job and like I said all along, Fluto, I’m happy to be here, you know. This is a place that I’ve felt really comfortable with the people around me, the organization, the city and the fan base and all. So I love working for this organization. So I just keep coming in every day trying to do my best here and trying to last as long as I can. And that’s basically my concern. One year at a time and my job here is pretty exciting because like we said there’s been a lot of changes, you know - different players, younger group, and those are the kind of challenges I love. So I’m looking forward to this year.
Cam Neely: I just want to jump in on that because I’ve read some things where you know people have mentioned that Claude [Julien] could be on the hot seat. I think it’s unfair to say that. You know Claude’s [Julien] a very good coach in this league. We’ve…Donnie [Don Sweeney] came to us with a plan of how he’d like to see the team play. He’s had many conversations with Claude about that. But a lot of things happen throughout the course of the year that’s not necessarily just on the coach so, you know, I think it’s unfair. I know why certain things are said at times but it’s really unfair to start the season where you know it’s out there where the coach could be on the hot seat I think it’s unfair to Claude [Julien].

On Jay Pandolfo and his new role and their relationship with him…
Don Sweeney: Well I’ve known Jay a long time and I’ve played against him. I respect him as a player and a person. It’s funny that my transition out of playing is very similar to Jay’s [Pandolfo] where he spent a year with us when he was in and out of the lineup, obviously was well respected by the coaches, handled himself in a professional manner, started to almost work in a development role as a result of that spending a lot of time not necessarily playing but around players and certainly continued to make an impact. And as an older player at that particular time I think you go through, you know, where you are in your own life. And Jay [Pandolfo] came right out of hockey and was anxious to get back in because he knew he could make an impact along those lines. He made a seamless transition going down to Providence on a daily basis to going to see and learn about our players. He spent a lot of time with the coaches down there, was on the bench in the playoffs. He’s got a great rapport with players, being able to break down from a video standpoint, talking, communicating. Most importantly in the development role, you have to be able to communicate. He’ll call the coaches and talk at any different level- the junior level, the college level, he’s headed over to Sweden. He’s been fully invested and it’s what I like about him as a person. And I enjoy talking hockey with him a lot, but also sharing the personal relationships of how I’ve seen players develop. And he’s asked questions, you know, he advocated on Jamie Langenbrunner’s behalf. He’s got a great relationship with him. He thinks he’s going to bring another twist you know- Jamie [Langenbrunner] took a different path than some of us took in the NHL, had a long and successful career as well. So you know Jamie [Langenbrunner] wants his hands to be involved and wants to make an impact and I think it’s the right fit for the organization.

On what his expectations are for this season…
Charlie Jacobs: Well I think that Cam [Neely] put it best: we want a team that can compete for a Stanley Cup, and that’s our goal. Whether we…to handicap maybe where we are maybe spring time might be very difficult to do sitting here today.

On if a divided dressing room last season was what impacted all the moves made in the off-season…
Don Sweeney: Well I think Brad [Marchand] references the fact that where we are today and watching Matt Beleskey walk through the door and integrate himself in, I think he’s excited to win. Jimmy [Hayes] has as well. And the leadership that he’s sort of embarking on in a new role. I think he represents you know from a personal standpoint where he is in his own personal and professional life and the impact that he wants to make going forward. And again, you know, we’re not trying to change the personalities of our players in that regard, but it’s a process for leadership. It’s not something you just, you know, you just inherently get on your doorstep. Each and every year you have to acquire the skill and experience to be able to impart your own knowledge on other players. And I think Brad’s [Marchand] in a place now where he wants to be able to do that. And maybe he recognized things that, a year ago, he wasn’t in the position to do. And he’d like to do that going forward. I think it speaks well for him as emerging in that role. And I think that’s what he’s referencing. I spoke to him about it and that’s what he’s indicated.

On the Bruins being physical and fights on the ice…
Cam Neely: Well, yeah I mean the fighting certainly has changed throughout the league I mean it’s, you know, fights are down and that’s, you know, the way the game’s trending. I’ve always been one that you know if it’s organic, you know, then it’s part of the game. But I’ve never been one that really enjoyed a staged fight. I never saw a purpose for that; I didn’t think it was necessary. As far as physical play, I mean we want our guys to compete, you know. We don’t need someone to put someone in the fifth row, but we want our players to compete for pucks, be strong on pucks, take the body when it’s there. That’s really, you now from my perspective, what I expect out of our team. You know we want guys to play hard. Donnie’s [Don Sweeney] talked about hard skill- that’s what we’re looking for is hard skill, and it comes in many different fashions. Patrice Bergeron, this guy competes, you guys seen him year after year after year, game after game. This guy competes. We, you know, we want those types of players that are going to compete. Now, we don’t want guys passing up an opportunity to take the body because that creates some other offense, especially in the offensive zone. You know if you’re going down on a D for example and you know he’s thinking of getting hit, you know, he’s going to move the puck a little bit quicker so. You know we want to establish that type of play and you know I think we’re adding some speed to our game but I don’t want us to ever get away from being a physical team but that’s really just you know competing and being hard on pucks and taking the body when it’s available.

On the mentality that younger players have to fight to prove themselves…
Cam Neely: I don’t know if it’s necessarily there, you know, internally we talk about competing hard and you know battling for pucks and you know that’s what we talk about internally. Externally it’s this “Big Bad Bruins” that’s kind of followed since the seventies and eighties and maybe early nineties. You know for us we just want to be hard to play against. And that’s what we tell the players at development camp all the way through training camp, you know the guys in Providence…they know internally how we want to play so you know it’s a little different mentality externally that’s talked about the bruins but you know for us it’s really just let’s play hard, let’s be a hard team to play against, let’s be physical when it’s there and more importantly, you know, play smart.

On if the rest of the league thinks players don’t need to fight to make the team…
Cam Neely: Well it’s getting away from that. You know, like I said organically if things happen and tempers flare and guys drop the gloves then you know that’s still allowed in this game. And there’s guys that do have that flip that’ll switch and they’ll drop the gloves. But gone are the days where like that’s how you’re going to get in the league is by fighting, those days are gone. You have to be able to play. The coaches across the league, they want to know that they can put a guy out there that’s going to chew up some minutes and create some offense maybe wear the team down a little bit you know, that’s what you’re seeing for you know the fourth line especially. But gone are the days like, “oh I’m a fighter I’m going to get into the National Hockey League.”

On what came out of the NHL Board of Governors meeting this week…
Mr. Jacobs: There’s a lot of things of interest and I think the only thing that might be is the expansion process seems to be moving forward and they had two candidates, one being Quebec and the other Las Vegas and they both made presentations and there’s a lot of content there. There’s a lot of people going there. I don’t know if there’s a desire or will within the board of the existing franchises for expansion yet and but they both had very interesting proposals, both have very legitimate arenas in place and organizations in place. So I…there’s a capacity out there, I don’t know if there’s a will. From a league standpoint, the numbers don’t really…I don’t think are going to improve on that. 

On if he would rather see expansion happen in Quebec or Las Vegas…
Mr. Jacobs: I don’t know. I think it’s more important…what is the best thing for the league as a whole and what’s the best thing for Boston? Right now things…the thirty teams are pretty good for all of us I think. Taking where we stand today most of…I feel good about where we are today. But as you framed the question there, we’re imbalanced here in that we’ve got 16 teams in the east, 14 in the west. I would probably have to indicate that another team in the west would make more sense for us. Now looking at the two locations, you have to say that Quebec looks like they are…more history there for hockey. But the presentation that was made was very compelling by those people in Las Vegas. So there’s no clear-cut answer there, but that’s…I mean sort of giving you some of the conditions in consideration.
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