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Zdeno Chara press conference transcript

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
Heidi Holland: Thank you for coming. Today, we will have Bruins Interim General Manager Jeff Gorton and Head Coach Dave Lewis to introduce Zdeno Chara. Each will say a few words and then we will open it for questions.

Jeff Gorton: First, I would like to thank everybody for coming out today. I also want to apologize for Marc Savard not being here today. He had some immigration issues.

Obviously, this is a big day for our franchise. I know you have probably heard over time that organizations have plan A, plan B, plan C. Well, our plan “A” involved signing Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard and we were able to do that. We are very thankful to have the big man in Boston and we look forward to having him in place for our turnaround. I can’t say enough on how happy this organization is to be able to bring a player of this caliber to Boston.

Dave Lewis: I’m very excited. I have people calling me and telling me I am a better coach already. I know that for a fact. We had a conversation on July 1, Zdeno and myself, and I was thrilled with the interest and passion that he has to be a part of the new Boston Bruins. He is going to be the guy that I look to for the leadership that I talked about, the character, the work habits, the discipline, and having the ability to make a difference in every game, every time he has a shift. I mentioned in my press conference about being hard to play against. Well, I don’t think there is a harder defenseman in the league than this gentleman here, to play against. I would like thank you for coming to Boston.

Zdeno Chara: I am very excited to be here and to be part of this team. It’s an original six franchise with a lot of history involved. Like I said in my quote, I was very thrilled with the approach of the Boston Bruins. They were very straightforward and after speaking with a few former players, coach, and Jeff, it made it much easier for me to make a decision to come over here and play. I’m just very happy to be a part of this organization. Hopefully, we can turn it around. I’m just very excited.

Question: What went into your decision to sign here and what was it about the Bruins approach that impressed you so much to sign here?

Zdeno Chara: First, it was pretty hectic. There were a lot of teams involved and it wasn’t an easy decision. But like I said, considering the changes that have been in this organization, it was clear that this team is on the way to an upstart. I just want to be involved in this whole process. I am not afraid of a challenge. I am willing to lead by my example with hard work, dedication, discipline, and drive. I want to put this team on the winning track. Once we do that, I want to contend for a Cup and hopefully be champions.

Question: Zdeno, the Ottawa Senators had a very nice team when you were there, but they did not have the playoff success a lot of people expected. What have you learned from the disappointments of the playoffs, despite the fact that you guys were so good during the regular season?

Zdeno Chara: Well, I think that every year is a different year. Every year you learn something different. Here in Boston, I don’t think we will care as much to win the Presidents Trophy in the regular season. The only thing we care about is the final goal, to win at the end. I felt that sometimes in Ottawa, we peaked in the regular season. I think that it’s important to have a peak in the end. You need to have “will over skill.” You have to want it and have the drive.

Question: Was it difficult to leave Ottawa being a team that has a chance to contend now?

Zdeno Chara: Well, you never know. It doesn’t matter who is on paper. You can have a whole team of stars and they may not make the playoffs. Look what happened a couple years ago to the Rangers. You just never know what team is going to be in it. Look at this past season. The final four teams weren’t in the playoffs the year before. You just never know. You have to go with your heart and I just felt that I was making the right decision.

You need to have guys that are willing to sacrifice and pay the price to win. I felt that the guys we have on this team will do that. They will make that extra effort.

Question: How much did your relationship with Peter Chiarelli play into you signing here now that he will be here soon?

Zdeno Chara: Peter had nothing to do with it. He was totally locked with the Senators and there was not even a consideration of me talking to him. Everything was done through Jeff on July 1. Obviously, it helped my decision because I know him and he’s very smart and very excited to be a new GM. When you see changes like that with a new GM and a new coach, there is a lot of energy involved and you want to help bring that to the team.

Question: Can you talk about the conversations you had with Cam Neely and Donny Sweeney and Boston’s tradition? How did it influence you to make your decision?

Zdeno Chara: It was a big honor to speak with guys like that. They were awesome players. I was a little bit surprised, but at the same time, I was very excited that players like that gave me a call to talk to me about what happened in the past and what kind of history has been evolving. They want to bring it back. They told me right from the beginning. This organization deserves to be up there and they told me that the team was lacking leadership. They are looking for that and they would love to have me. I am up for that so I decided to sign here.

Question: Jeff, in the last couple weeks you have been busy signing people. Can you give us a sense of what it was like to do this job under a bit of an unusual circumstance and with the deadline coming and you give up the job?

Jeff Gorton: It hasn’t been that difficult. The interview process for myself was an honor to be considered to be a potential general manager in the National Hockey League, in particular my hometown. To run the draft as a GM, to run free agency as a GM, it’s something I have been working for and think I am capable of doing. At the same time, I have had the luxury of talking with Peter Chiarelli and I understand why he was chosen. He is a very bright guy and I look forward to working with him. It hasn’t been as hard as people think. To work in hockey and be a part of evaluating players and picking a team is all I’ve ever wanted to do.

Question: Would you say it’s just a normal day as you go to work everyday?

Jeff Gorton: Yes, one day Peter (Chiarelli) will show up and he will start. We’ll be ready for that. I don’t have a calendar where I “X” off the days, if that’s what you’re asking.

Question: Zdeno, what do you think of the talent that is still here in Boston after playing against them so many times with Ottawa?

Zdeno Chara: There are some very young, talented players that are very hard to play against. Players like Bergeron, Boyes, Sturm, Stuart, and Toivonen – there is a lot of potential there. That was definitely one of the things I was looking at when making my decision. I am sure they are going to develop into real good players.

Question: Zdeno, how did you have to change your game with the new rules? Did you find yourself having to make any adjustments?

Zdeno Chara: To play in this league, you need to accept change. Everybody had to deal with the new rules and adjust to the game. There were some tough things to adjust to, but it’s a part of the game. You have to just go with it and work on things to improve in order to become a better player.

Question: Zdeno, What do you know about the city of Boston outside of hockey?

Zdeno Chara: Well, I have heard a lot about Boston being a great city, but I have to get to know it. I know there are a lot of colleges and universities here, so there is a young crowd. It’s just a very nice city.

Question: Having seen this team from the Ottawa bench, what do you see as the needs for the Bruins in order to take it to the next level?

Zdeno Chara: It’s hard to make comments on another team when your on the other team because you are totally focused on your own game. I think we want to create in this team the definition of being the hardest team to play against. We want to be a really hard working team with leaders. We want to outwork other teams.

Question: What is some of the history of the Boston Bruins that you know? Maybe even dating back to Bobby Orr?

Zdeno Chara: Maybe that’s too far. Obviously, it’s an original six franchise and when you have that, there is a lot of history involved. There are many great players that have played here. As I walked through the office this morning, I saw pictures of all these great players who are retired with their jersey’s hanging on the roof. That tells you everything. There is a lot of history and a great place to play.

Question: Dave, after the signings of Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, and Shean Donovan, how much has changed your outlook of what’s possible to happen here?

Dave Lewis: Dramatically, all three signings are important pieces of the proverbial puzzle. They’re not just add-on pieces, they are really important parts. It starts with leadership and hard work. There are so many different things that are combined for success of the organization or team and everybody has a job to do. Everybody will contribute in a different way, but all for the cause of the ultimate goal. It’s not about what I can do. It’s about what I can do to help the team. That’s what is most important, the team. We will come up with line combinations, defense pairings, and strategies, but it has to start from within and with leadership. The thing Zdeno and I talked about on the telephone a couple of times was leadership. Not being the guy that just talks about it, but the guy that goes out and does it. I saw Zdeno play a lot of times this past winter and he has a passion for the game, a high skill level, and he can play all special areas of the game. Zdeno has so many attributes.

Question: Dave, you had Nick Lidstrom in Detroit and was obviously one of the great defensemen of the era. What is Zdeno’s potential? His skill-set is greater than anyone can expect as tall as he is.

Dave Lewis: Well, those are two different type of players, but they play at the highest level. That level is so high, it’s hard for a lot of people to understand. It’s always against the other teams best players. It’s the most difficult times for the athlete to handle and the responsibility that comes with it. The conditioning level of all these guys is important. After talking with Zdeno, I can tell he has passion for training and his eating habits to be in shape. Those are the types of things that I want other players to accept and grab. Nobody will play more minutes than Zdeno Chara on the Boston Bruins, so he will have to be in great shape. But that is his standard. I want everybody else’s standard to be that too.

That’s just one area. All these great players set high expectations for themselves. They are very driven and it’s hard to just talk about it for a minute or two, but there is a certain passion that other players don’t have and maybe never will.

Question: Dave, quickly about Marc Savard, he’s a guy that has the potential to get 90-100 points. Where do you see him fitting in?

Dave Lewis: I think he just came off a breakout year. He will be important on our power play and getting timely goals or setting plays up. I look to him to be creative, hard working. I talked to him a little bit about not inhibiting his skills, but staying within the system. That’s a philosophy of mine that I think he will buy into with no problem. I want him to be creative skilled, but don’t sacrifice one for the other. You still play within the structure, so we look to him for offense, that’s what we do. And, he will have to do his job defensively. There’s not just one end of the rink.
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