It was a busy trade deadline last week for us as we made four separate deals to add four players to our team.
Right now we have 25 players, but the important thing is that they are 25 good players. It is challenging for the coach because part of coaching is making sure players are happy. Happy players are like happy employees or happy students, they work harder and enjoy their job more. I think it is a fine line between making sure everybody is fresh and making sure you do not lose chemistry on the team. Sometimes the line is about as fine as the difference between a rut and a groove - they are basically the same things, but it comes down to how you handle them.
We are lucky because we have great people. I knew Joe Corvo, Eric Belanger and Milan Jurcina, but did not know Scott Walker. I am quickly learning how great of a teammate he is. I also know the guys who have been here all year inside out and nobody likes to sit for a game or two games. But at the same time they have handled it really well. They know they are not sitting because of poor performance, they are sitting to give somebody else a chance. The common goal is to win the Stanley Cup and all of this is a portion of how to do it. Unfortunately, some guys will play less than others, but the attitudes have been great. For example, Quintin Laing and Tyler Sloan have been amazing. They see three guys come in and know their playing time is going to be reduced even more than it is, but they know their job is to get players ready to play – to practice hard against them. And when they get a chance to play they know their teammates and coaches will have their back.
Joe Corvo is such a better player than when I had him in the AHL. At that time, he was a very offensive player with a lot to learn. I think he is underrated because he is still kind of a quiet guy and quiet guys don’t get a lot of attention. He is a really good player, and he is what we wanted and what we needed.
I have known Eric Belanger for a long time, and I know he has very good offensive skill. He was a high scorer in junior and was a high scorer for me in Lowell, but when he got to the NHL he was automatically thrown into a defensive role and got a reputation as a defensive guy. He can play offensively. He can skate, he can see the ice and he can move the puck, so he will be a good addition for us.
Scott Walker adds everything as far as a sandpaper, gritty guy who has experience and has been there. He is a guy who has had to fight his whole life from being a defenseman to becoming a forward. He has done it well and I think he is going to be a great teammate.
Unfortunately, Milan Jurcina is hurt right now, but we could not think of a better right-handed depth defenseman than him. He already knows our system and organization. We knew he was hurt when we made the trade, but we also knew that he would bring his smiling face and positive attitude to the rink everyday.
The team knows that management made these trades trying not to lose anybody because they know we have a great group. But they also know that we were serious in our efforts in trying to win what we want to win. Who knows if it is going to happen, but the effort will be there and I don’t think George left any stone unturned.
We believe we are 10 deep on defense and are 15-18 deep at forward, including the guys in Hershey. We also believe we have three goalies who can get the job done. The next thing you have to do is just go out there and do it.