Ducks Teemu Selanne, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Rob Niedermayer, J.S. Giguere, head coach Randy Carlyle and General Manager/Executive VP Brian Burke spoke with reporters at Media Day at Honda Center on Sunday.
Q. Coach Carlyle, I was wondering if having been able to study Ottawa a little bit if you could talk a little bit about what the key for you is going to be in shutting down their first line?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Obviously the amount of skill that they possess and the pace of the game that they can play is a challenge for anybody. They're the hottest line in the playoffs. They lead their team and all the offensive categories, plus people have described Alfredsson as probably the best player in the playoffs right now.
So for us it will be about trying to take away time and space. It's not necessarily the commitment that we'll make to playing the Pahlsson lineup against them. There might be a little wrinkle thrown here and there.
Obviously with match?ups, they play a critical part in our game plan. And we'll try to get our best people who we think can do the job. And Pahlsson and Niedermayer and Moen have so far done that in the playoffs.
But this is a new challenge with the group that they're going to face.
Q. Brian, this is a pretty even matchup on paper between your team and the other team. Yet a lot of people are picking Ottawa in their predictions. Do you have a sense why that might be?
BRIAN BURKE: A lot of predictions. It's a Canadian/U.S. thing. A lot of the Canadian media are going to pick the Canadian team. That's fine. We have more Canadians on our team than Ottawa does. That's fine. But we're content to be the underdog in this.
It's clear to us that we are, and we like our team. And we're happy with our group. We're proud of this group and we're happy to be here.
Q. Coach, the thought is going into the series that your big three, Beauchemin, Pronger and Niedermayer, will have their hands full playing 30 minutes against the Senators lines, how do you approach that or do you rely on them being savvy veterans and being efficient with their playing time?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think it's always easy to categorize ifs before the playoffs. The series start, we're criticized earlier in probably all three playoff rounds, we didn't use our bench doing this, we should be doing this and shouldn't be doing that. We found ways to get through that.
I think there's a lot of overemphasize put on four lines versus three lines, and with the amount of timeouts and the amount of breaks you do have in the game, and depending on what type of game and how well you're playing, if you're playing in the offensive zone, I can guarantee you players aren't as taxed physically, if you can enjoy some strong forechecking, some cycle and play a good majority of the hockey game or the period or the time frame in the opposition zone.
And those are things you have to gauge. Obviously we'd like to have as many personnel healthy and available to us, and if we feel we have the depth to play four lines we'll do that. We have to play six deep we feel we have a capable group playing it.
Q. Brian, last year at this time last year you were doing exit interviews. If you can boil it down, what's the biggest difference or the biggest reason why this year you're in the Stanley Cup as opposed to last year when you weren't?
BRIAN BURKE: From a personnel standpoint, it's two things: One is that this group has been there before. Not to this stage, but this group played in three rounds last year. They got valuable experience. Two of those rounds were in Canada, which is I think adds a layer of difficulty that's good for a team to go through.
And I think the other biggest difference is that we added a defenseman.
Q. Which one?
BRIAN BURKE: His name is Pronger. (Laughing). As far as getting there, obviously our goaltender has been special.
Q. Brian, I'll ask you about other defenseman you added a couple of years ago. It's well documented New Jersey offered Scott more money to stay there. Can you talk about the recruiting process and how important it was for him to play with Rob?
BRIAN BURKE: Well, we first made a determination that we wanted to make sure that Rob Niedermayer stayed with our hockey club. When I first met with him, he said it was his intention at that time to take his qualifying offer and become unrestricted the following summer and maybe go somewhere else.
So our first job was to convince Robbie to stay, regardless of what Scott Niedermayer decided. We felt it was a critical priority for us to keep Robbie, regardless.
So we did that and then I met with Scott and I said, What's your list? Give me your list. And he said, I want to play in the West. I want to play on a team that has a chance to win.
I want some privacy away from the rink. Want to play with my brother. There's only one GM that can check off everything on your list. You're sitting with him. Let's get this done. So we did.
He's obviously ? players like that make GMs and coaches look smart. He's a marvelous player and a wonderful captain for us.
Q. Brian, there was a lot of fluctuations in the first three rounds on the officiating part. Will you and your counterpart sit with the officials and try to get something before the series or have you already addressed that with the officials?
BRIAN BURKE: We don't talk to the officials. Randy does during the games, but we're not allowed access to the officials during the playoffs. Which is probably a good thing (laughter).
The officiating, if you go back, we have not complained about ? the management team or coaches have not complained about officiating in any of the series we've played so far. We think the officiating has been performed in a very high level. And it hasn't been a concern for us. There's certain calls you'd like differently. The other team feels the same way. There are calls in every game that you prefer weren't made and the opposing GM, calls that Muck would like to see not made.
But overall this is no different than the teams knocking each other out. The officials have worked through a process where the last four are the ones that have been rated the highest and we don't anticipate that that's going to be a problem.
Q. Brian, at the trade deadline you chose guys you developed over plugging in a big name. And can you tell us a little bit about your second line, which has been so important and your decision making at the deadline to go with your chemistry guys over a big name?
BRIAN BURKE: Well, I said this at the time, that our group of GMs, we make more mistakes at the trade deadline than we make the whole rest of the year.
The pressure to win and add guys is tremendous. We added Brad May who we've had before and we've had real good luck with May?Day. He's a leader, a hard?nosed player, a factor in several of the victories.
But other than that we kicked a bunch of tires. It wasn't for lack of trying to see if something fit. But what's made the difference, as you mention, is that our second line has gone from ? to go back to Christmastime, there were probably six, seven minutes a game, and now Getzlaf is pushing 18, 19 minutes. You have to arrest that ice time away from somebody. Coach isn't going to give you that ice time. You have to grab it by virtue of playing well. They've done that, they've been terrific. Corey Perry and Dustin Penner, Getzlaf gets most of the headlines because he's the best player, but the other are good players too.
As I said, I've never talked about those kids once without mentioning I didn't draft any of them. I didn't sign any of them. Those are Bryan Murray's decision to have them here and he deserves credit for them being here.
Q. Brian, can you describe your relationship with Muck and some of your thoughts about him getting here.
BRIAN BURKE: My relationship with him, I would describe it as excellent. A tremendous amount of respect I have for John Muckler for what he's done in the game. I think he was the youngest head coach in the history of the league when he first became head coach. He's had success as a coach and manager.
I think he made real good changes to his club in the last two years. Some gutsy ones, some ones that weren't easy. And I have a great deal of respect for him and for Bryan Murray. My friendship for Bryan goes back ? I met Bryan when I was playing in the American hockey league with his brother Terry and he would come down and watch games. That was the first time I met him, '77, '78. We've been friends ever since. We'll put it on hold for a couple of weeks.
They're good guys, both of them.
Q. Randy, Giggy has obviously been in this particular environment before and Emery hasn't. Do you feel that's an advantage at all for your side?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I don't know if it's an advantage. I think everybody would like to call back on their experiences at some point or another to push them through some adversity, if it is presented.
We're comfortable with Giguere. He's played outstanding. He's probably been one of the most overlooked assets of our hockey club in the playoffs this year.
As far as their goaltender, he seems to be taking on another step of maturing into a high?level goaltender. They're very, very confident. I think the thing that you have to look at from their standpoint ? and I don't think that they really thought that Emery would be their goaltender at this point in the season. And he's earned it.
And it's a tribute to the player and their organization for developing that player.
Q. Brian, obviously you've been a GM in the Canadian market, could you talk about the focus that's on the Senators now and do you think that gives you guys an advantage?
BRIAN BURKE: It's an advantage ? I mean hockey is not a sport in Canada. Everyone knows that. It's a religion. It's not going to change. The coverage, if you look at the newspapers here today we've got excellent coverage and the people that cover our team are thorough and professional and we have excellent coverage.
But you also see how it gets obscured by both baseball teams, as luck would have it, they're in first place. UCLA football. I've been here two years I think they've lost two games. UCLA basketball. You know, these are all things that we compete with. There's two NBA teams. NFL is probably coming back at some point. So the coverage we get, while it's excellent, is obscure, camouflaged and often lost.
It's different in Canada. And first off there's not this plethora of other teams to cover, and there's that cult following of the game of hockey, which is a great thing for our league. Does it put more pressure on Ottawa? I don't know. I think in general the Canadian teams, the pressure that's placed by the fans and the media is a helpful factor it makes your team and manager perform. Certainly at this point in the year I don't think it's a factor.
Q. Coach, in terms of the time change, this series, you look at it clearly set up for an Eastern audience. Do you consider that when you prepare your team for this 5:00 start?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: We've played home games all year at 5:00 on Sunday afternoon. Obviously it's a little different from the standpoint of preparation. The time frame in which you have to work the day of the game changes, but it only changes about an hour or so. So it's not really that drastic from a rest standpoint. We always try to make sure we allow our players the proper time, the proper amount of time for rest.
And our preparation starts right after the game that we've just completed. And I think that's the most important steps that you can implement in your program is to make sure that your players are doing the things that are necessary to replenish the fluids, to removing the lactic acid. It's become famous for the Ottawa hockey club to do their interviews while their players are on the bikes.
That's one of the steps they're taking. They've implemented that a number of years and it seems to be working for them.
Q. Brian, back to the Canadian for a second. Talked to a number of people yesterday supportive of the Ducks and glad you're here but had no idea where to watch the game or when the series started. Any ideas of how to compete with the Angels and Dodgers and USC and kind of give hockey a bigger presence in this community?
BRIAN BURKE: I think our players are doing that. I think there's three factors to building the base here. One is winning. The other is marquee players. I think you need marquee names in Southern California.
And the third is you gotta play a distinctive style. And I think the fans like the way we play. And the response has been terrific. I will tell you this: I will put our building ? tomorrow night I'll put our building up against any building in the NHL for noise. We've got great fans here.
Q. Brian, do you remember the time when you drafted Chris Pronger into Hartford, what your plan would have been, plan B, had the Senators drafted Chris Pronger instead of Alex Daigle?
BRIAN BURKE: They signed him the night before so it would have been hard to sign Chris Pronger.
Q. I mean before that.
BRIAN BURKE: That's the only player ? that was a great draft. There were a lot of good players in that draft, but that was the only guy I was interested in. We paid a high price to move up. Lombardi was the GM in San Jose. We paid a high price to move up. I think our judgment has been rewarded in the way ? took me 13 years to get him to play a game for me, but we're pretty happen with him (laughter).
Q. You talked about rolling four lines if you need to, is that why it looks like you may move Marchant down and Miller down to the first line, are you looking at some changes?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: What we're looking at is present ourselves with options. Obviously it's a tall task to put an untested American hockey league graduate into Stanley Cup Finals. But we have confidence in our kids and we think we have a group of them, that could include Carter, Motzko, Mark Hartigan, we have some options and I thought through this week's practice we could give it a trial. We think the Miller kid has great intelligence, great hockey sense. Can skate. He's a confident young player.
He's not a flashy player but he gets the job done. If it's so needed, we think he has the capabilities to go in there.
FRANK BROWN: Thank you, gentlemen.
Questions for the players.
Q. This is for Scott and for Chris. In terms of the Senators' rolling four line, the big story is you play so much out there in terms of ice time that in the end a long series would be a disadvantage for you guys. Is it just about being veteran players, being efficient out there as far as your ice time?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Obviously it's intense out there. You gotta work hard. It's not easy, and I think obviously we have to be smart with our ice time. Obviously when we're out there, when we're tired, get off, get your rest. If that means getting off earlier on a power play, stuff like that, those are decisions we have to make to try and stay fresh, when we get back on the ice, we're ready to go. Because it is tough and I think that there's a lot of responsibility on our shoulders to be smart about it.
CHRIS PRONGER: Yes, I think that's the biggest thing, just being smart about your minutes. But at the end of the day it seems to be the same old song and dance: When are you going to get tired? Aren't you supposed to be tired? I heard the same thing last year and the year before that and the year before that.
You adapt, your body adapts to playing those types of minutes. You get used to it. But as Scott said, you've got to manage your game.
Q. This is for Scott and Rob. Can I ask the two of you what you remember about the Game 7 handshake when he won the game and you hadn't? Can you explain what happened and what was said?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: I can't remember exactly what was said. But obviously it was a different time. It was ? obviously I was happy that our team had won but then you get in the lineup to do the handshakes and your brother's on the other side. You want to see the best for him as well. So it was a different situation.
And we're now going to have a lot of fun obviously competing together on the same side.
ROB NIEDERMAYER: Yeah, I can't really remember what was said either, but it was a tough time. Especially after you go through the whole round to get to the Finals and come up a bit short. It was disappointing. But happy to see your brother win, I guess.
Q. I have a question for Chris and then Scott. About Ottawa's big line, how do you go about neutralizing them? Do you key on one particular player? What's the game plan for that line of Ottawa's?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: I think playing good defense is pretty much going to be the same thing against most good offensive players. You know, they're a talented line. You give them time they're going to make plays, they're going to make plays even if you don't give them time. So you really have to be smart about your positioning.
Obviously you need all five guys to be playing smart and doing their jobs defensively because they're great at finding open players. Relying on the goaltender to make some saves when they do get the opportunities or you do give them one from bad angles. It's the same old story of just playing good team defense against a good line like that.
CHRIS PRONGER: I think that's the biggest thing is your five man groupings out there. You might have matchups defensive pairings playing against certain lines. But you'll have five guys on the ice. Everybody has to play solid team defense.
When you have the opportunity to get a lick on them, you get a lick on them. If you limit their time and space, as Scott said, they're going to make some plays but keep them to the perimeter and allow the goalie to see all the shots and hopefully he can do his job as well.
Q. Chris, playing in back?to?back Stanley Cup Finals like you have in the last 12 months, and doing it on different teams, how does that rank in terms of that accomplishment personally for yourself and your list of career accomplishments, the fact that it must be very difficult to do and make the adjustments?
CHRIS PRONGER: Yeah, but I'm not really looking at it as an accomplishment yet. There's still a lot of work to be done here in this series.
And obviously the prize is at the end. And to be honest with you, I haven't really thought about it that much.
Q. Chris, you're on the flip side of last year. You were on the Canadian team and a whole country behind you, now you're on the flip side of that. Wondering looking back if you think it will add a little extra pressure on you guys, knowing so many people are excited about maybe Canada finally getting a Cup. Now you're on the flip side of that. Maybe it will add pressure to the Senators?
CHRIS PRONGER: I don't think it added that much pressure to us. I think everybody in that locker room, it was pretty much playing for one another. And not really worrying about what was said, good or bad. And we got down 3?1 and everybody wrote us off. We were able to climb back with a Game 5 win, a Game 6 win. Get to Game 7, never know what's going to happen.
We weren't worried about what was being said around Canada. We were worried about what was being said in the locker room amongst ourselves, and I'm sure they're doing the same thing.
Q. Scott and Rob, can you talk about what it's been like to finally play together after so long and what's the biggest difference is between the two of you off the ice?
ROB NIEDERMAYER: As far as playing together, it's been a lot of fun. Competing on the ice has been great. But I think just spending a lot of time and seeing his family off the ice, being able to go to practice together and just seeing his kids grow up has meant a lot more than anything else.
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Not much more I can add to that.
It's been fun. We've been apart since I went to play junior hockey since I was 16 and he was 15. We've been apart every winter since then. To get together and spend more time together has been great on and off the ice for sure.
Q. This is for any of you guys, you've all played in considerable big hockey markets I guess around the country, is the perception. Compare the support you guys have gotten here from this city or, more specifically, the fans compared to maybe the other cities you've played in.
CHRIS PRONGER: The fans here have been great. It's obviously been a process since new ownership has taken over. They've really tried to get into the community and get to more fans and we're certainly drawing a lot better this year as a product of a lot of hard work last year.
And it's always going to be a process. And hopefully we can continue to ? on the buzz we have right now and the energy that's in the building and the excitement amongst the fans and more and more people seem to know who you are around the community.
That's what's exciting about this market. Just waiting to find a winner and waiting to find a team to root for and hopefully we'll be that team.