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Transcript of General Manager Peter Chiarelli and Zdeno Chara from 4/28

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES

Monday, April 28, 2014

BOSTON BRUINS GM PETER CHIARELLI PRESS CONFERENCE AT 11:00 AM
On the upcoming matchup against the Canadiens…
It’s obviously another difficult one. We had — we were mediocre against them during the year, but they’re a team that has given us trouble historically, so it will be a challenge. That way — much is said about their size and their speed and allegedly, that’s what gives us problems. I think that’s part of it. I think it’s just sometimes, you just don’t have success against [a team] sometimes. Having said that, that applied to Detroit, too, so you see what happens with that. They’ve got some speedy forwards, they made themselves better with [Tomas] Vanek, that line has had some success with Max Pacioretty and [David] Desharnais. Their goalie is good — very good. So it’ll be a real interesting series, I think. Despite the common belief that speed kills, I think we’ve shown that we have some speed and we have some size and we have experience, so it will be a challenge but I think we’ll overcome that challenge.

On the notion that the Bruins struggle with speed…
It’s too stereotype, and we’ve improved our speed. I just hear about it all year, too, so I get a little — and obviously Claude [Julien] and I talk, and we get tired of it. But we have speed and we have heaviness and we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because of that, because of this label that we have. But fair enough. I understand where it’s come from, I understand when you bring it up in the context of the [Red] Wings and now the Canadiens because they are. They’re both fast teams. It’s about closing gaps more quickly, it’s about establishing a forecheck and leaning on guys, it’s about our special teams — both PK and PP has been outstanding. We maintain that and we’re going to have success.

On the players getting some rest before the next series begins…
It helps, probably more mental than physical. These guys are terrific athletes. The few guys that are dinged up, it obviously helps them recover better. These guys are terrific athletes and I just get the feeling that the mental rest — the two, three days away from the rink — is really helpful. Of course, the guys that are still on the mend that haven’t been playing the extra days help their recovery period, but in probably a day or so, they’ll be itching to get back at it. I hear the Canadiens are having a closed scrimmage today with their black aces, so they’re probably chomping at the bit to get going, too. So we’ll be there probably in a day or two.

On the organization’s continued success in the postseason…
We take a lot of pride. It reflects obviously nicely on the organization, from the top — Mr. [Jeremy] Jacobs, to Charlie [Jacobs], to Cam [Neely], to myself, to Claude [Julien], the rest of our staff, our scouts. We all want to — we all have one thing on our mind. It’s to win, and to win and to be consistent in winning, and to be able to roll over each year and compete for the Cup. As hokey as that sounds, it’s what we do and it’s something that we take a lot of pride in. Success is fleeting, too, so you could — next year, we could lose in the first round and you guys will be all over us, and I understand that so the respite from that is nice, too.


On Boston’s discipline versus Montreal, and Brad Marchand’s play specifically…
So discipline, power play, all that stuff — that’s significant, from a global perspective. That’s significant. There seems to be a lot more penalties called this year in the playoffs, and I would expect that won’t change, so we have to be disciplined. It’s nice that our power play is either top-ranked or in the top two or three during the regular season, and now, because they have to be disciplined, too. With regards to Brad [Marchand], he falls into that whole group — he has to, you know … I get asked about Brad a lot, and I mean, he pushes the envelope. But that’s how he plays, and there are times he does stuff that you just think, Oh, Brad, you don’t have to do that. But I know him, I understand how he plays, I’ve seen players like that over the years, and they have to play on the edge. And Montreal has a lot of those — two, maybe two of those. I’m not saying we only have one also, but Brad’s the one you’re asking me about, so they’re valuable players to the team and we have to manage them. And I like Brad, Claude likes Brad, and he’s a very good player.

On the young defensemen stepping up in the first round…
It’s been very important, and you saw last year towards the tail end and in the playoffs, we had valuable contributions from all those except Kevan [Miller]. You know, I saw this quote the other day — “It’s a game for young men” — and I don’t necessarily agree with that in total, but the young legs, the energy … We talked about the speed label, the lack of speed label. That we have those guys, the — not so much Kevan, but the other guys bring speed coming up through the defensive zone, the neutral zone, and helps our speed game. The youthful energy, the youthful enthusiasm, the youthful naiveté sometimes in practice — that lightens the mood. All that stuff, it really energizes your team, and of course, they’re good players. So you’ve got good players playing that can skate all day.

On Reilly Smith not having playoff experience prior to the Detroit series…
It was really good to see. With Reilly, [Smith] the inexperience of the playoffs and the ramping up of the play at the end of the year, you can see he kind of got caught up in it a little bit. But he’s a very heavy player and he’s able to adjust his game. I think part of what you saw at the end of the year – he’s not really big and robust an I think he might have gotten worn down a little bit but he is mentally strong. When I See Reilly’s board play strong and the way I see him winning those battles and the way he’s very slippery, comes out with the puck, a little like Krech [David Krejci] and I’ve see that all series. He made those good little plays that he always makes and he was skating a lot better. He is a mentally strong kid and he was able to get past the hurdle we all saw in the last little bit in the regular season so it was good to see.

On the importance of the core group’s leadership, having been through the playoffs…
It’s really important. We always talk about composure with – I call it quiet composure, we have other labels for it and other names for it. In the midst of all the activity and – I think it is really important for the group. I wouldn’t just limit it to the group, hopefully it’s spread throughout the whole team that at times of adversity on ice, in between periods, you have to settle down, you have to be composed and at the same time maintain your intensity. It’s easier if you have been through more of those situations, that’s what we have done. It’s easier when the group is able to – the group you talk about, the core, is able to talk to these guys and take them aside. Or generally just a couple words here or there, just coming from a guy who has been through it a lot, really, really helps. We have that, we have a strong leadership group and we have been through adversity and we still continue to grow in that regard. But it is significant.

On if he is fed up with answering questions about Tyler Seguin and what it would take to quiet the criticism…
I don’t think I’ll ever quiet criticism, there will always be critics. So I am not fed up with talking about speed, I’m sure everyone will bring it up and I brought it up and made it a point to underline it. Sure, I’ll face questions about [Tyler] Seguin. Last year at the Stanley Cup Final, my first question was Tuukka Rask – acquiring Tuukka Rask. How do I feel that I wasn’t the guy who acquired Tuukka Rask? So bring it on Francois, I’m not being a smartass. You know what, Tyler [Seguin] was a fast player, you know, we got two really good players and we got probably two other really good players that you will see in a couple years. Building a team – you heard me earlier about building a team that wins. You have to make decisions on guys. There are cap decisions, there are personality decisions, there’s where that player will play, all those things come in to effect. Tyler had a terrific year, he led our team in scoring, and he led Dallas in scoring. He will continue to get better. He learned a lesson in the playoffs – they loss last night and they will continue to get better because they have a young group. So I’ll continue to answer those questions and I continue to answer questions about trading Phil Kessel, he is a terrific player with Toronto. He was their leading scorer, he’s – when I traded him I said, ‘this guy is a 45 goal scorer’, and he almost is. So hard decisions and you know what? When you're in this seat and you have to make those decisions, you expect criticism so I am not being a smart ass.

On the performances of Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith since coming to Boston in the Tyler Seguin trade…
So you’re talking about Reilly Smith, Loui Eriksson, those two up top. I’ll talk about those two. You heard me earlier about Reilly Smith, very heavy player – as is Loui [Eriksson]. They are both really strong two- way players. Their board play – Loui is taller than Reilly, they’re robust, they’re not thick, they’re not heavy, heavy, literally heavy weight wise. But they have great sticks and they are always stripping pucks and are always stick on stick, stick on pucks and to me that is a smart, smart player. They’re like – if you really want to know who one of the best in the league is, [Pavel] Datsyuk. We just saw him, he’s always got stick on puck and these two guys are like that. And it fits in to the group that we have. So when I say we play heavy, it’s doesn’t always mean banging bodies but it is about having a heavy stick, stripping pucks and making small plays that in zones where it’s not always sexy. Like it doesn’t result in a goal but it prevents a scoring chance, it facilitates a break out, it facilitates a take away in the neutral zone. And I’m not saying Siggy [Tyler Seguin] wasn’t smart, he is a smart player in his own way. But these guys play our style and ever since the Olympics, specifically, on Loui, you’ve seen a real reversion of his game where he played before he got him, because at the first part for a number of reasons, he struggled a bit. And I think you’re really starting to see his game turn the corner. And then Reilly, we talked about it earlier, he has really overcome the late season doldrums a little bit. But common denominator is that these guys are smart, they have great sticks, they make good, tight plays and they can finish.



On Zdeno Chara being named a Norris Trophy finalist…
His game varies little for me. Let’s talk about this year. He made the switch, at our request, to being in front of the net on the power play. That was one of the reasons our power play has improved so much – one, there are two or three other reasons – but his kind of  - not that he would never not accept, because it’s his job, when we ask him something, but his willingness to embrace it and you know, stand in front of some pretty good shooters, and to take a beating there and to take the puck, recovery, to take a beating, it’s a difficult job, and we had a hard time finding a quality person who had that quality, and Zee embraced it. So good on him, and he’s scored some goals. He wasn’t the glamour guy who was taking the one-timer – but he still does it, and you see he does it quite well – so part of that, was the master plan to take some minutes off his back, because when you’re that point man – if you remember from last year, he would be retrieving the puck and skating the 200 feet, or 160 feet, set up, and go back and retrieving, so that wears on a player. So again, good on him for accepting a changing role and recognizing that his game, he’s not getting any younger, but to me, his game hasn’t really changed. He’s the best defender in the League – I don’t think anyone’s close, defending. And I thought this past series he was terrific. I know it was after the voting, but I thought he was just terrific. He still gets up, you know, you play a team with a real star, and he really takes that as a challenge, and I think his – I guess – skating, is good, and you maybe don’t see him shoot as much because you’re used to seeing him on the one-timer but he still blasts it. So I think he deserves the nomination, I think he deserves the award. And it’s no offense to the others – who are the others, [Ryan] Suter and [Shea] Weber? [reporters: Weber and [Duncan] Keith.] Oh, Suter wasn’t. Okay. So, the other two are both obviously very good players so those are my thoughts on Zee.

On if he’s surprised that Chara has only won the Norris once…
I think with Zee, he doesn’t have the sexy stats. So no, it doesn’t surprise me. It’s a little disappointing, but he doesn’t have that coast-to-coast ability. I know we’ve seen it a couple of times, but that’s not the trademark of his game. So it doesn’t really surprise me, so as I said earlier, this guy defends. To defend is so difficult, and to love doing it, there’s very few players who love doing it, and he does. So you know, maybe there should be a best defensive defenseman, I don’t know. Maybe there should be a best offensive defenseman, and then you have the Norris. [reporter: So do you think that the Norris should generally be a shutdown guy who gets it?] Well, like, that’s the biggest part of his game. Now, a guy like Weber, does both – he shuts down, and he scores. A guy like Keith, he defends – it’s not his greatest strength but it’s a strength. His strength is getting in, getting out, and moving it. He’s not a pure offensive guy like [Erik] Karlsson, but he has that offensive bend to his game. So I don’t know what the solution is. Certainly not going to change it just to cater to Zee. But, you know, we’ve talked about it before as managers that maybe you should separate it, but that’s probably why he hasn’t won it all the time.

On if he’s willing to give any updates on Daniel Paille, Dennis Seidenberg or Chris Kelly…
No. [laughter]

On where he sees Carl Soderberg’s game and if it has gotten to a point where he thought it would be…
He really has had – he’s had a strong season, and if you remember back to training camp, he had a terrific training camp until he got hurt. I’m really happy with his game. I think it can get better. I think when we moved him to center, he really - give credit to Carl, when we had him on the wing, he really worked at it, and worked after practice, taking pucks on the wall and getting moving from a stop, and he really worked at it, and I think you can see, sometimes he finds himself on the wall and he’s actually improved his game quite a bit in the defensive end, so moved him to center – first thing, you know, he didn’t play for a month, from the time when he left Sweden and the time that he played for us, and he was a little overweight, from a hockey playing standpoint, so he came back in terrific shape, he knew where he had to be. He came back in terrific shape and he just hit the ground running. I’m glad he got in some games last year in the playoffs, because it really helped. You know, I remember him telling me in the exit meeting, it’s like ‘I know what to expect now.’ It’s such a high level and a high tempo, so it really helped him for the summer. He’s just so strong, he’s strong on the puck, and he makes – his passes, he made be the hardest passer on our team, forehand and backhand, his backhand pass can be so hard, I haven’t seen it like that in a while from a player, and they’re right on the tape, so he’s got good sense, and he’s so strong, he protects the puck. A lot of his play fits into how we play, and there’s room to improve. There’s room to improve. He’s been improving on the faceoffs, he’s improving his D zone coverage, he’s getting more comfortable with his linemates, so he’s been good all year. I’ve been very happy with Carl.

On the team-first mentality among the veterans, and the way it trickles down throughout the roster…
I don’t know the answer to that. You just see how they compete, you see how they don’t give up over a number of viewings. You watch – I’m sure everyone else does this, but you watch their interviews over time and see how they handle themselves in front of the camera, if they’re humble, if they’re modest, you see them in the course of travel, off the ice. It’s just compiling a book, and there’s traits that we really stress, and I really think it’s no different from any other manager, when they want players that are self-less. And all of these accolades, they mean stuff to these guys, trust me, and I’m glad they do, because it’s a pride thing. But they want to win, these guys want to win, and they’ve tasted, and they want to keep winning, so it’s kind of – you breed it a little bit, and then sometimes maybe you bring a player in and you hope that the group can mold him a little bit. And a guy like Carl, he wasn’t really part of the group for a long time, but as I said, he came in, he saw what we were about last year, and he knows ‘this is what I’ve got to do to play on this team, and we’re gonna win and sometimes that trait is in you and it just comes out with the group, so credit to the group, for helping us bring players in. And then of course, the coaches have to really help, too.

BOSTON BRUINS DEFENSEMAN ZDENO CHARA
On the Norris Trophy nomination…
Well it’s obviously a huge honor. It’s one of those things that you’re very proud of and it’s something that you need to have the whole team working towards the same direction and working together, and it’s a reflection of the whole season — having a steady and strong season as a team. That’s why we have a number of guys nominated. I’m very humbled and obviously it’s a huge honor to be nominated.

On whether he thinks the award should go to a defense-first defenseman…
I said it many times that I’m not going to be a guy who’s going to put up some highlight-reel goals or plays. I have once in a while but I’m not going to try to run around the ice and chase the points, or I’m not going to be taking risks. Playing against top lines, I want to do it the right way and I want to play the game the right way. I always take a lot of pride in my defensive game. I want to be always strong defensively and take care of my zone before I jump up and help the offense. Obviously you have to be able to do both, but I’m not going to be changing chances just because I want to be getting more points. I like to work really hard and I enjoy competing against top lines, top players in this league. So I want to do it the right way and that’s the way I think it’s always been for me.

On moving to the front of the net during the power play…
It’s never easy to be standing in front of the net. It’s a position or it’s a spot that you have to really battle hard for and make sure you’re willing to take some shots and be willing to do whatever needs to be done, either by screening the goalie or being outlet for a pass, down low deflecting pucks, retrieving the pucks, winning the battles for them off the faceoffs. So it was definitely something new and some new challenges for me, but I look forward to those. Before every season, I always say that I want to be better. I want to improve, and sometimes, these kind of new things brings more motivation and kind of a little spark, and I try to do my best in whatever position I’m in, whether it’s power play, PK, five-on-five. If I’m thrown in different scenarios, then I have to make sure that it’s my job to do my best to be good at it. That’s where I tried — I was willing to do a little extra after practices and whatever guys needed me to do in that position to help them be better at the power play this season.

On whether he felt like he had to take more responsibly given the youth on the back end this season…
Well, it’s a fine line or balance that you do have to take some responsibility and take a little bit upon your shoulders, but at the same time, you don’t want to be doing too much that it’s actually costing your own game. You still want to be helping younger guys with their development and getting more — or speed up the development or the experiences they might not have yet — but at the same time, you don’t want to be doing a job for them and then not doing your job. So it’s kind of a balance that you want to help, but you want to make sure you focus on your game and let them, at times, figure for themselves how to play. They do a really good job — all the young guys we have, they really made huge strides from the time they got here, or they got called up, or trades. They made really smooth adjustments.

On enjoying his new roles on the power play and leading the young defensemen this year…
I really do enjoy that. As you get older and you’ve been in the league for a while, you don’t realize how much you’re going to maybe miss that part of the game once you’re gone. So I’m not saying that I’m thinking about being gone or retiring, but I’m kind of realizing that the time is not going to be always there. I enjoy really coming to the rink every day. I enjoy competing in practices against guys and always in the games. I love the game. I’ve said it many times — it’s a humbling game and I love everything about it. So every little part of it, you have to obtain joy. You have to have fun and work hard at it, and if you do that, you have no regrets. You basically do what you love and it’s much easier than coming to the rink and thinking about, Oh my God, I have to do this again. You always want to look at it in a positive way.

On his perception of Boston’s ability to deal with speed…
Well, first, we can’t really control what’s being said about us or maybe other teams, when they play us. It’s more how we’re going to play and how we do things on the ice. I don’t think we are a slow team. Obviously we are built a certain way and we want to thrive on the way we’re built and excel in areas that we are good at, but I don’t think we are necessarily a slow team. A lot of people are — a lot of times, you hear that we’re going to play this and this team, and it’s not just in the playoffs — sometimes during the regular season, too. But I think we are able to skate and make quick transitions as well as any other team. I’m not tired of it — I know what we can do it, and I believe that we can play with anybody.

On how he plans to stop Tomas Vanek in the upcoming series against Montreal…
Well, I don’t think it’s just about Tomas [Vanek]. I think it’s just playing as a team against another team. I’ve been saying before every round, there are always individuals that are maybe more skilled, their tendencies, they are capable of winning games, but you have to play as five guys on the ice and not always just focusing on a single person or a single player.
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