Q: Do you think you’ll be a different captain than you were earlier in your career?
“Well, I think you’re always going to be a little bit different with the experiences you go through, age, and everything you’ve gone through throughout the course of your career… learning from whether it be Olympics, Stanley Cups, five different teams I’ve been on and the different captains that I’ve had, and been, there’s no question I’ll be a little bit different. Having said that, I don’t think it changes the way I play or how I need to perform.”
Q: Does anything change by wearing the “C” for you?
“I don’t think so. I think you have to be who you are and play the way you’ve always played. Whether you have a letter on your jersey or not – if you’re a leader, lead. If you’re a quiet, unassuming type of guy who just goes out and works hard and plays to the best of your ability, then do that. Don’t do anything outside of your comfort zone or outside of anything that you’ve done to this point to be successful. Everybody that comes in that locker room and wears the jersey and wears that Flyer emblem, they’ve done something to impress upon somebody that they’re going to provide something that our team needs. I don’t think they need to change that one bit.”
Q: Do you have to handle this team differently than you handled the Ducks in ’07?
“Well, it’s a little bit different. The one in ’07 was kind of thrust upon me because Scotty [Niedermayer] retired, we were just coming off a Stanley Cup, everything was roses. I think going into it I knew it was going to be difficult because Scotty and Teemu [Selanne] weren’t there, you’re going to have a Cup hangover, you’re going to have all these things going against you, and it was all of that. It was a difficult four or five months, and then Scotty came back and eventually assumed his captaincy, and we kind of got back on track and did our thing. From that perspective, it’s different, and also in this one, Mike [Richards] was a young captain with a lot to learn. As I said before, I was in his exact same shoes 15 years ago when I got to St. Louis and I had the captaincy thrust on me there. You have to learn an awful lot as a young captain, and a lot of times you’re just learning how to play the game the proper way, and how to go about playing hockey as opposed to dealing with media and fans and the scrutiny, and the fame and fortune and all the rest of that. It can be difficult.”
Q: On a team with so many new faces, is there a correlation with the amount of chemistry created and the success this team might have?
“I think that’s the good thing you can look at is that it’s a pretty empty slate. There’s a lot of new faces. A lot of guys know one another, but don’t know one another well. I think that’s something that Peter touched on with me when we talked about this is we need to get the guys together and get that camaraderie and chemistry and that flow going early in training camp and then on to the first part of the season, to get acclimated with one another, get comfortable and get off to a good start and get feeling good about ourselves so that we can kind of get on a roll, get to know one another, and really start to form that bond that you need in the later months in April, May and June when you need to really come together and sell out for one another and be willing to sacrifice your body or whatever the case may be for the good of the team. Tomorrow is obviously the first step in that direction.
Q: At what point did you figure out that this may be thrust upon you too?
“I wasn’t really too worried about it. Again, I have to play the game of hockey first and foremost. The other part will take care of itself. But to get myself healthy and make sure I was going to be able to play at the level I’m accustomed to and the level that everybody’s accustomed to seeing me play at – that was the biggest factor before any of this other stuff came to light was trying to get myself healthy and make sure that I was going to feel not only up to the task, but up to the challenge of playing 82 games or however many I get to play at 100, 110 percent and that I’m leaving everything out on the ice so I don’t have any regrets and you don’t feel like you’re just checking in and checking out.”
Q: Is there anything a captain can do to help create chemistry?
“I think a lot of this whole captain stuff gets a little overblown. It takes in this case 23 guys, but come camp, 50 or 60 guys, it takes everybody pulling in the same direction. I said it last year, I said it the year before, I’ve said it for a number of years now to anybody who asked me that question – that the whole captaincy thing gets a little blown out of proportion with respect to who gets the blame and who gets the credit. For whatever reason, that seems to be the way it is here, but you obviously have to take responsibility and help bring guys together. But it takes everbody wanting to buy into the system and be professional, come ready to play and come ready to practice, be in shape, and be focused on the game. Our careers are very short, some shorter than others, and you have to take every opportunity you can to win championships or to play to the best of your ability.”
Q: How long back had you been talking to Paul about this?
“It was quite a ways after the trade. I came in at the end of July to see the doctor about my wrist and back. We had touched on it briefly and I think Lavi was here at the time, and we just kind of had a little conversation. I said right now I’ve got bigger fish to fry, I need to focus on getting myself healthy and back to where I need to be to be able to play the way you want me to play. If you do indeed want me to be the captain, I need to play the way I play for me to be effective. So probably back then, but we really didn’t touch on it all that much up till probably when I got back from the summer and rehab and started coming in here to work out and try to get down to business and get prepared for the season, and try to get myself as healthy as I could.”
Q: Dealing with the media seems to impact different players in different ways. Is that going to be any different, or will it not be a big deal to you because you’re dealing with them all the time anyway?
“The way I handle you guys is not going to change, so get used to it. Sometimes Tim needs to be brought down a couple pegs, and so I need to do it. However, having said that, had I not had the experiences I had from the time I was a young captain in St. Louis all the way up, there’s a way to do things, a way to be the jokester and sarcastic and what not, but there’s obviously important questions that need to be asked, and you need to give a real answer. I think having that experience, and that knowledge of when that is and when that isn’t, helps. You guys obviously have a job to do and you need our quotes to do it. We are here trying to grow a game and promote a game, and put fans in the seats and have some excitement around our game. That part isn’t lost. It’s certainly become a big part of growing our game. Having said that, will I answer every single question I get asked, no. Will I speak every day, no. There will be days when I tell you all to beat it, and I need a break, and you’re going to have to get over it.”
Q: Have you seen becoming a captain impact other people in a negative fashion?
“I don’t know about that. Again, how you are, whether you have a letter on your jersey or not, doesn’t matter. When I was in Edmonton I never wore a letter, and it didn’t make me less vocal or less of a player in the locker room. It is what it is. There was a set group of leaders already in place and they didn’t want to disrupt that, and I was fine with that. So it wasn’t that big a deal. It’s going to affect everybody differently. Having gone through it, this is my third time being captain of a team, so I think I understand what the job entails and what needs to be done and what my role is. I don’t think that changes with a letter on your jersey.”