Could you give us your personal reaction to the events of [Game 5]?
Certainly very disappointed with the outcome. Certainly wasn’t disappointed with people trying, or effort. It was just that we weren’t intelligent at certain times and did not take advantage of opportunities when they were given. We certainly can look at different things and rationalize bounces here and there, but over a [best-of-seven] series, whether it’s four games, five games, six or seven, those level out and you make the most of your opportunities. We did not do that.Did you think that you had the team to go deep in these playoffs?
I don’t have any question in my mind. You certainly always can have hindsight and look and say, ‘A, B, or C.’ But you make every decision on what you have in advance and then whatever the results are, you can always go back and be a Monday morning quarterback. But I feel the same way today as I did prior to the playoffs, certainly during the season, that this team had abilities and had potential to go a good distance. I hate the word ‘potential,’ but we certainly didn’t actuate it. That’s obvious.This is three years in a row that this has happened in the first round. Is there something that’s fundamentally missing from this team that’s not allowing it to have postseason success?
Certainly that’s a question. I respect anyone who would ask that question. The standards here are very high. It’s not something that is acceptable; will ever be accepted. You have to be careful in how you use those terms. It’s just that we’ll never give in to it. We’ll have to look at it. This is a time where you take a step back – no different than we’ve done other years – and try and evaluate, correct. We’ll just have to see. You look at matchups, you look at certain situations, you look at how things transpire. You look in every possible direction. Unfortunately, it has been three years in a row. It’s not something you can hide or stand behind. We have to look at it. We’ll go from there.What did you think of the coaching in this series? Are you happy with the job that Jacques Lemaire did?
I’m certainly happy with the job that Jacques has done and certainly not unhappy with the effort put in. We just didn’t get things done the way it had to be done. You can go over each and every game. You can look at the turning points, you can look at what was positive, what was negative, and that’s what you do. This is not a time at all to look… In my personality, I am looking at myself right now. I’m not even thinking about anything else. I’m evaluating myself the best way I can of what potentially might have been done, might not have been done. These are things only I know in the seat I sit in and have to go from there. That’s the time I’ve spent right now. We have not had any internal meetings. I have not sat down with [Devils Managing Partner, Jeff] Mr. Vanderbeek, I have not sat down with the coaches, I have not sat down with the players. That is not done until I have enough time to spend with myself. So there’s no question that Jacques will be back next year?
There’s no question that he will be back unless you know something I don’t know. Those types of questions and topics, I know that in the position you people are in, are asked all the time. It is what it is. We haven’t even discussed any of this. But there’s no question in my mind unless there’s something I don’t know. You said you were looking at yourself. Are there any things that stood out right away that you felt maybe you could have done, or shouldn’t have done, or anything like that?
I respect the question. I wouldn’t respond to that anyway because quite frankly, I haven’t had enough time to evaluate everything in my own opinion. But there is always something you can do. Any time anybody in my position doesn’t feel that they could have done more, or can’t take the blame – it should start with me, and that’s where it will start. Do you want to, is it your intentions, is it possible to keep Ilya Kovalchuk?
We certainly would like to keep him. He has been anything and everything that we have asked of him. He’s been a solid citizen. He’s bought into the program. He’s given the effort. There’s no question that we would like him to be a Devil. We have not spoken, intentionally, not to disrupt the season, and playoffs. And not, not spoken because we have any disrespect or any questions. That’s something for a later time. Is he a player that fits into the Devils team mold rather than an individual player?
Some of the things that Ilya did, you don’t correct over a short period of time. He didn’t do anything that wasn’t asked of him, but he is a player that could become a Devil very quickly.Last year when you were eliminated, you can look back and say, ‘It was a freakish 80 seconds.’ But in this series, it seems Philadelphia just played better than you. Is there a different feeling after this year?
Absolutely a different feeling because Philadelphia did execute better, did take advantage of opportunities better. All series are different. We’ve been in quite a few over the years, and they all take a different posture. Whether you lose in the first round, you lose in the second, or you lose in the third, as far as I’m concerned, unless you win the Stanley Cup, it doesn’t matter a damn thing. So I look at it totally different.Is it a concern that they outplayed you?
They were the better team, unfortunately, during the season, too, against us. We have to look at that. We have to look at what the reasons were for that, and why. That’s where all the evaluations come in. If we would’ve known the answer to that, we would have corrected it in the first game.How important will it be to keep Paul Martin?
It’s important to keep all our players who are in a higher role in the top end. It’s important to have all the players. I say this every year. But you have to look at your team, you have to look at everything. There’s a lot of evaluations going on now. I’m not going to say one is more important than the other, or less important, or anything, because, quite frankly, I have more questions today. When you have some time, you use it before you even respond. Every player who is a core player – who takes a major role – you try and keep.What is your feeling on the leadership on this team and the job that Jamie Langenbrunner has done as captain?
I have no questions on leadership or captaincy. I think when situations come about like this, I’ve heard different questions in every area today, so we can go from top to bottom on what they are and what they are not. We’re looking for reasons, we’re looking for excuses – I don’t believe in either one of them. Right now, we have to get to the core of what happened. I do not have that answer right now.The fans [Thursday] night were not happy. How do you deal with their frustration?
You be honest with them. We feel that they should be upset. We expect as much out of ourselves as they expect out of us. When you don’t perform or you don’t achieve [they] have every right to be upset. Where do you think it went? Your team was so good through November and December, and in January, to me, things started going downhill. Where do you think it went, if you agree with that assessment?
That’s something that we’re going to have to look at and see what questions come about during that process, during that time, and then what the answers are to it. Valid point, valid question.Did making the Kovalchuk trade prevent you from making other trades that might have addressed other needs on the team?
I don’t know how to answer that question. You can go back on a lot of different things. You always find a way to do the things you would like to do if it’s possible to have happen. I can’t deal in hypotheticals. I just can’t. I haven’t seen us win a game in a hypothetical situation, after the fact. What you do is, with the information you have at a given time, with the possibilities there are of doing things, you make the best possible decisions you can to have the best results. That’s what you continue to do, you go and you evaluate.Did the Olympics have a deleterious effect on your squad?
I won’t want to go to that as an excuse or a reason because there are 29 other teams who are in the same category. You have to overcome any type of obstacle, or overcome any type of situation like that. Do you believe that this team, if you keep your core guys, is capable of winning next season?
I certainly believe in this team. I believed in this team prior to the playoffs. I never doubted the abilities we have. Yet there must be something that should be done or hopefully, that will be the right thing done to make us better. We can’t lose sight of that the season is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. And it’s where you end up. We certainly ended up in the right position and the right spot to have an opportunity to succeed. If we look at the teams in our conference that are in the top four and how we competed against them, during the regular season, under the same rules, you’d have to feel good. We did not get it done in the playoffs, and that’s what we have to look at. Does this team have the playoff build? There’s no question in my mind that it did, and it does. It didn’t get it done. You can look at different areas. You can start with specialty teams. One team capitalized and one team didn’t: why? We can go to another area. You cannot put any blame on goaltending; we’ve got goaltending. In saying all of that, you go down and you pull out, evaluate, you look at films, you look at games, you look at turning points, you look at situations, and you try and come up with the best decision to make some personnel decisions. You don’t just do things for the sake of doing them, there has to be a reason for it.In addition to trying to sign and keep the players you’re looking to keep, should we expect additions this summer? Trades or signings?
I don’t have the answer to that question. There’s too much evaluation that has to go on. But I would be very surprised if there were not some changes.