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Transcript From General Manager Peter Chiarelli's Pre-Playoffs Press Conference

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS PRE-PLAYOFFS PRESS CONFERNECE

WITH GENERAL MANAGER PETER CHIARELLI
Monday, April 14, 2014

BOSTON BRUINS GENERAL MANAGER PETER CHIARELLI TRADE DEADLINE PRESS CONFERENCE AT 11:00 AM
On what he has learned about the Red Wings after facing them four times this year…
They’re a, I think, they’re a classic puck possession team. They play — you can tell they’re very well coached. For a team that skates, a team that moves the puck well, they’re strong on the puck. I think that’s a bit of a trickle-down from guys like [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Pavel] Datsyuk, who are among the best puck-strippers in the league. I think their defense are good — they’re a little young, we’re young too on the D. They’ve got a good goalie. They won the season series against us — we played really poorly a couple of games. I’ve watched them quite a bit down the stretch and they’re a good team. They’ve got injuries, they’ve got young guys that are performing well. It’s a different ballgame in the playoffs but certainly they’ve got speed and they’ve got some youth.

On the importance of having a strong third line in the playoffs…
Well, it helps. It’s rare that, I guess — not rare, but it’s not common that a team has a real strong third line, and often in the playoffs, the margins are so thin. The top two lines cancel each other out, so your third line becomes important. You saw that with the year we won, and you see, you hear everyone talk so much about secondary scoring — that’s what it is. Your third line and your fourth line, too, and we’ve talked a lot about our fourth line, so it’s important, it’s important to have that line going. We’ve seen that line have some success this year. I’ve liked the look of that line and it’ll be key to our success.

On his respect for Detroit’s front office, and whether he’s tried to emulating its success…
Yes, I am in that camp — I have great respect for that organization, great respect for Kenny Holland, Mike Babcock, the Ilitch family. I followed them for a lot of years — maybe that long, 23 years. They, Kenny, I got to know him a little better during the Olympics. He’s very bright. He looks at things a lot of different ways, a lot of different angles, to get a solution. And then you can see that in their development — they like developing people in the minors, but they also find players elsewhere in trades and in free agents, and that’s what we try and do. I have respect for Mike Babcock — he’s a really sharp guy, and he’s — I got to sit in on their coaches’ meetings in advance of the Olympics and during the Olympics, and he’s very, very bright. So I have a lot of respect for them, but now they’re competitors, the other side of the ice, so we’ll figure out a way to beat them.

On his confidence in his defensive corps after the injury to Dennis Seidenberg…
I feel pretty good. I think what we ended up with was one of our goals, like in augmenting in the aggregate, as opposed to finding that singular player to replace Dennis. I knew I wasn’t going to do that — that player wasn’t out there. So I like the fact that we have eight D that can play. We’ve spent the last little bit experimenting with pairs in that, so we’ve had that luxury because of where we were in the standings. So that’s been very helpful and hopefully it’ll be two months and we’ll be using everybody.

On whether there is a game or moment that stood out as an emblem of Bruins hockey this season…
Not really. I tend to look at things, like, over a longer stretch. Not really. There’s been a lot of really good performances by players on this team. Like I think the kind of — we’ve got this Seventh Player Award, which everyone’s talking about — there were six or seven candidates for it. I don’t think there’s ever been that many candidates for it. So it speaks to kind of the performances across the board. So I can’t single out one particular moment, no.

On the Tyler Seguin trade, in retrospect…
You know, the criticism — I can understand the criticism. When we make a trade, we look to see how we improve our team, and we went into that whole venture to improve our team and we have improved our team. So there’s no real vindication — it’s about improving our team and finding ways to improve our team, and that was one way. And there’s no secret to the quality of player that we traded. It was not a surprise that he’s doing what he’s doing. On our side of the ledger, it’s about improving our team, and we thought we did.

On the job Head Coach Claude Julien has done managing a younger defense…
I think he’s done a real good job. That was one of our major themes going into the year, was integrating the young defensemen, and I think he’s done a good job. It may, it may sound simple to, like, you out there — four defensemen, play them. It’s a little different from that, especially with the significance of the defensive position, with the, you know, with the youth, and they’re going to make mistakes, and it’s about fixing those mistakes and at the same time, not ruining the confidence of the players. We had one or two periods where we were scratching one of those three — and I don’t include Kevan [Miller] in that, but I guess you could for the purpose of this discussion. And you bruise their egos and they’re young, and it can go sideways. So I think he’s done a real good job. And then these guys, we had the luxury a little bit of these players who played the year before in real tense times in the playoffs. So, but yeah, the staff — Claude and the assistants — they’ve done a good job. We’ve had a lot of discussions over the year regarding the integration of these guys, and that only speaks well for the future, to have these players, at this age, performing the way they’ve been performing.

On what Zdeno Chara was able to bring to the backend in terms of consistency…
I think he’s had a terrific year and his play in the context of the young D you're referring too should put the spot light on him a little bit more. Compressed schedule coming off a long year last year, Olympics, you know, he’s a smart player who has a terrific defensive impact. He is able to make the younger D accountable and at the same time can make them feel wanted. You will see him playing with those young D in his pairs. I think he’s had a terrific year; he should be in consideration for the Norris Trophy, no question. While im talking about that, awards, I really believe that Patrice [Bergeron] has had a terrific year and the impact that he has had defensively and offensively has been outstanding and I think he should be in line for those awards too. And our goalie should too. So we’ve had some good performances but I just wanted to put those out there so that they get some love.

On looking back at how well Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug handled being thrown into the playoffs last year and if he envisioned Bartkowski would be in the same position this year…
When we put him in there last year, it game our D a different dimension. As a manager, when you put a young player in, you wonder how long it will last because it is about sustaining that performance, especially in the playoffs. Then, the silver lining to Dennis’ [Seidenberg] injury is Bart [Matt Bartkowski] has been able to step up over the course of this year and really preform at the level that he has done. So not really surprised, he’s had scratches here and there but he has really integrating himself into the lineup and understanding how we play defense more. I guess knowing that he will, in most of the cases, he’ll be back in the lineup. He’s made some mistakes, his mistakes have been less and less and he’s defending a lot better. He’s a strong kid and he is defending a lot better and he’s defending smarter too.

On if this season has worked out the way he thought it was going too with the new players…
Yeah, it’s worked out very well I think. Jarome [Iginla] of course has had a terrific year and has really gelled will with that line. He’s got leadership ability, he’s a hall of famer, he plays hard every shift and is a great example. The other three have found their way and have found their spot. We talked about the third line earlier, and then Reilly [Smith] of course, had a little bit of a trough there this season but his play is picking up and he is still a young player, a very skilled player, a very good two-way player. So yeah, I’m very happy with the way that they have come in and have reenergized the team. They are all really good two-way players which is important in our system.



On how much he has seen from Zdeno Chara in having confidence in the young defensemen
I think that’s the big thing, that he has confidence in the player. It’s important for him and any of the older players to recognize the potential in these players, the willingness in these players to want to get better, the youthful enthusiasm, all of that stuff, they whole package – to recognize the value that they bring to the team, the psyche of the team and just general performance wise. So, Zee [Zdeno Chara] has been around a while, he sees players come and go, he knows when players – he knows good players and that kind of excites him when he sees good players.

On how having the teams core still intact benefits the team in the playoffs
Well, it’s all about experience and these guys that are – we’re still like, I don’t know what our average age is but there is a group of five, six, maybe eight players that are all in that kind of 26 to 29 range that are really key core players, maybe even 25 to 29. And they have gone through those years that you have mentioned. Even today, today is a perfect example, if they were coming in to the playoffs for the first time, it might dominate their mind all day like ‘what’s it going to be like’. These players know what they have to do, they know kind of that you have to have a good practice tomorrow, a good practice the next day, have some rest, eat properly. All that stuff is in place so it’s all about experience. Obviously they have to get it done and they have gotten it done before but it’s about experience and knowing what to expect and knowing that there are going to be ups and downs throughout the way and to get through it on a level even keel.

On if his projection of Dennis Seidenberg’s potential availability has changed…
Not really, I don’t – again, we’re not counting on Dennis to be back, we’re going to be very cautious with this injury. He has been skating and that’s pretty much all I can say on it. It really hasn’t changed.

On if there is any clarity on McQuaid…
Not really, no. Adam’s [McQuaid] injury, he was close to coming back then he had a setback, close to coming back had a setback. So again, we want to be careful on it. It is not a major injury, it is a soft tissue injury and we’ve been doing okay with the D we have so we want to be cautious with it.

On working with the Red Wing’s GM during the Olympics adds a sense of a weird dynamic to this series…
A little bit. In that environment, it’s like you kind of bare all because you want to win. But, there’s not a lot of secrets, it’s how you execute from the GM side to the coaching side. Everyone scouted, over scouted, scrutinized. But you’re right, you become really good friends in a short period of time but – if we end up playing Tampa at some point or St. Louis it is going to be the same. Or there are other coaches, Dallas I guess. But yes, I was thinking about that this morning because I had to put a call in to Kenny Holland this morning on a couple things and it was where we were kind of partners in crime last time and now we’re competitors.

On if he is comfortable with the team’s health…
You know, we’re going to have the normal annual playoff lockdown on injury and injury disclosure. I went into this thing saying I wouldn’t say anything about Adam [McQuaid] and Seids [Dennis Seidenberg] but I did, you scooped me. So I’ll defer to that policy.

On if he has any strong opinions one way or the other about the new divisional playoff format…
No, I can have a fairly strong opinion. I really liked, down the stretch, the divisional dynamic. I really liked that. That was cool, knowing that you really don't have to focus on the other division. Now of course, we did, because of where we were in the standings, and that might be the only little twist that I'm not sure of yet. It just so happened that it didn't happen. It happened in the West, going across divisions. Dallas and Anaheim. But it didn't happen here, so that would be the one little wrinkle I want to see how it works out but I really liked the within-the-division dynamic and I really started to feel it in the last month or so, so I thought that was good, and of course, your'e going to see it, and coming out of your division in the playoffs, I think that will be really good for the rivalries.

On before he goes into complete lockdown mode on injuries…
I already did, Joe [laughs].

On Paille, though, Julien said he was looking good…
[Shakes head. Laughs from reporters.]

On having to win the Stanley Cup in every way possible, and looking back on the game-breaking qualities of Horton and Seguin, and now not having those players, if he thinks the maturation and consistency of the group as a whole can make up for that…
I think so. I don't know exactly where we ended in goals scored, third in the League, pretty high and I think our power play was pretty good at the end, so those are I think signals that we've matured, we can work at it collectively and we've still got to make plays - you can be consistent, but you've still got to make plays to score and to defend. So, we're deep. I like our depth, and we talked earlier about the third line, and we talked about the D, and I really liked our depth, and we've made plays all year, so I would expect that to continue.

On despite having confidence in depth, but still being surprised with Kevan Miller and what he's capable of at this level…
Well, he's been on a steady track and he had a really good training camp with us. Brought him up at one point early on, and we knew that he was ready, so. He had a really good year last year, but until he gets in there and plays and he plays meaningful minutes, you knew that he could play and be part of a deep group, but he's shown that he can be even more than that, and, you know, it's a different ball game now when the pace picks up and you're in the playoffs, but he's a real competitive guy, and he's done quite well to this point and then the level now is going to pick up even more, so we'll see how he does, but I've been happy with him.

On Patrice Bergeron and if this is the best he's seen him play...
It's the best I've seen him, period. You know, the Olympics helped us out on a couple of different fronts. And Loui was another thing, his pace and his game really took off. Bergy, he started maybe as the 13th forward over there in Sochi, and everyone saw what he can do and he was basically on the top line at the end of the day. It helped his pace, it helped his tempo, and you know, you see him shoot the puck better this year. He's had a terrific year. And of course, the whole two-way component of his game is so good, it's always good. It's not by accident you hear his name in the Hart Trophy conversation, that doesn't surprise me at all. But this is the best I've seen him play.

On Chad Johnson and what he was able to provide…
We knew he'd be a good backup for us. We tried to give Tuukka between 55 and 60 games, and I think he ended up with 58, so Chad did his job. And the other night, when we lose in Winnipeg, he was outstanding. We saw a lot more of those game than we probably would have envisioned so I think he had a real good season and he's really helped the whole because he was able to spell Tuukka and win games.

On not re-signing many RFAs during the season (besides Seidenberg, and Miller) and why that was…
A lot of different things. Tag room, cap uncertainty, I wanted to wait on a lot of guys, each something different. You know, we're in a good spot with this team and the critical mass and we've got decisions to make and I thought the organization would be better served if we wait.

On Dougie Hamilton and how he's seen him develop going into playoffs…
You hear me talk a lot, you hear Claude talk a lot about defending, and defending is so important in the playoffs, and I think that's an area that Dougie's really improved, and he will continue to improve. But he's just getting stronger as a man, as a young man, he's getting more confident with his body and with his strength and, you know, his play with the puck on the offensive side of the blueline has been terrific. His little in tight plays, starting to break out, which are so important in a smooth breakout, they've been good and they've been getting better. He can skate out of trouble. I saw him skate the other game, it might have been the Buffalo game, with the puck, it's the fastest I've seen him skate, so his skating's been improving. But for me, the biggest thing is his defending and his strength on the puck and it's gotten so much better. It still has to get better, because I project him to be a top defenseman, so he's on the right track to.

On Julien's pride in the 2008 team that fought to get into the playoffs despite injuries and if he sees Detroit as doing the same thing this year, and how hard they are to handle...
That's part of it. They're getting back a healthy [Pavel] Datsyuk, that makes them more dangerous. And who knows what will happen with [Henrik] Zetterberg, he's lurking in the wings - Kenny [Holland] and Babs [Mike Babcock] will probably pull him out at some point. So they had the young guns that helped them get in, and you heard by talk about youthful enthusiasm and energizing a team, and that's what's happened there. They've had a ton of injuries, and [Tomas] Tatar, Reilly's brother [Brendan], [Gustav] Nyquist, [Riley] Sheahan, all these kids, [Danny] DeKeyser on the back end, they've all helped energize the whole group and when you've got these kids that are fearless and don't really know what the ramifications are, they become dangerous as a group, and that's what they are.
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