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Flyers Press Conference Transcript

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
In attendance: Chairman Ed Snider, President/COO of Comcast-Spectacor Peter Luukko, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren and Head Coach John Stevens

Opening Remarks
Holmgren: “We have three things that we would like to announce. First, we officially signed Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell, players that we acquired near the end of the month. Those contracts are now signed, sealed, delivered and filed with the League. We would also love to announce the signing of free agent center Daniel Briere. We signed Daniel today around 3:30 p.m. to a multiple-year contract. We are extremely pleased to get that done. I think that Daniel is an exciting player. Obviously with the numbers that he put up last year, coming here with our team, fitting in with our younger players that we have in our lineup as well as our established players, he is going to fit in tremendously. He will be an offensive leader for our team for years to come. The last thing that we would like to announce is that we have traded Joni Pitkanen and Geoff Sanderson along with a third round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Jason Smith and right wing Joffrey Lupul. Those are the three big announcements that we have today. We are excited about what we have done here in the last little while and we are looking forward to training camp with a renewed vigor."

Q: Have you ever been involved in a remaking of a team as extensive as this?
Holmgren: “I was trying to count the faces that we have changed since the trading deadline last year, even before the trade deadline, with the Peter Forsberg trade, I think I counted nine new players since last year’s opening day roster, so it’s a lot of players to change in that period of time. In my opinion, we have added to a lot of key areas. We have added grit, determination, skill, speed and size. I don’t think there is any question that we are a better team now than we were, certainly when the season ended.”

Q: Are the Flyers a playoff team now?
Holmgren: “I don’t know that we can say that with any confidence. I think that we have a fighting chance now. When you start the season, there are 30 teams that have high expectations of being in the playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup. Our long-term goal is always to win the Stanley Cup. Our short-term goals obviously come before that. Our short-term goal is going to get in the playoffs and in order to do that we need to be ready to go right from the get go. I think with the team we established, maybe some minor adjustments throughout the rest of the summer, we are geared up and ready to go. A lot of things have to come together in terms of how our group meshes. Over the course of training camp, our coaching staff will put players in the right situations and that will take care of itself.”

Q: Over the last few weeks, you have acquired the captain of three other teams. Will one of these three be named captain of the Flyers?
Holmgren: “I think that is a coincidence. The players you mentioned, Jason Smith was a captain in Edmonton, Kimmo Timonen was in Nashville and Daniel Briere in Buffalo. I think all three of those players have strong leadership qualities, that goes without saying. The rest we will just see how it goes once training camp starts. I think that we had (team leaders) prior to them joining the team and in adding these guys, we have some players that have some strong leadership skills. We will weed through that over the summer probably into training camp.”

Q: What made Daniel Briere the final piece for the Flyers?
Holmgren: “I think going into this free agency period we felt that it was very important to try to snag one of those top centerman that were available. We think with our centers with Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, and R.J. that we have good young players there. In order to elevate those players, we felt that we needed a guy who could really be a better player and a more established player than those guys. I think that Briere is going to help their development, help those young players be better players because of his maturity, his experience, along with his explosive ability.”

Q: Do you think your offer or the fact that (Marty) Biron and (Don) Luce are here helped Daniel Briere choose the Flyers?
Holmgren: “After talking to Daniel, he likes what we have done here in the last little while and he likes the young players we have. He takes the Flyers as an organization that historically has been very committed to winning. I don’t know whether money was a factor at all. I think there were other teams that were in there probably a dollar here a dollar there.”

Q: Can you talk about the job that Paul (Holmgren) has done since becoming the Flyers' general manager? Summer after summer, it seems that every time there is a player out there to get the Flyers are right in the mix. Can you talk about those two issues?
Mr. Snider: “We have always been willing to go after whatever we need to go after to try and win. Obviously, we have been partially successful once in a while and not successful other times. But speaking of this year, I think with the (Peter) Forsberg deal, acquiring Marty Biron and everything else that Paul has done, I think he has done one of the most outstanding jobs I have ever seen in one year in re-tooling a team and I am just thrilled that he was able to accomplish everything that he wanted to accomplish.”

Q: Did you have the mindset that we could not let last year happen again?
Mr. Snider: “You said it, that is exactly how we felt. First time in our 40 years to end up with our worst record and in the league, not only was it embarrassing, it was unacceptable and I certainly hope that the moves that we made will help that problem.”

Q: Was there another free agent that was your first choice to sign?
Holmgren: "Not for me. I think Danny is one of the most exciting players in the game. He has creativity, he can score, he is competitive and he can skate. I think that he is a perfect fit for our team and quite frankly, I think that he would be a perfect fit for a lot teams. We are happy to have him on our team.”

Q: Do you worry about the size of your team?
Holmgren: “With some of the other players we have added in (Scott) Hartnell and (Joffrey) Lupul and obviously, we have Mike Knuble here, so we are a big team already and now we have added Daniel Briere, one of the best smaller players in the game, so I don’t worry about that at all.”

Q: Where do you go from here? Do you still have to address the checking line?
Holmgren: “I don’t think so. I think Mike Richards is a capable checking center. There is some time needed in his development in becoming that guy. Some of it’s in Mike’s mind because of the success that he has had as a young player in terms of his offensive production. I think we just need to get Mike to realize that and stress the importance of being that guy. In saying that, that does not mean we don’t want Mike to score. We want him to score. The best way to check a team is to be in the offensive zone, when the team you are trying to check is in your offensive zone is worrying about defending their own zone. I think this is a huge year Mike Richards’ development as well as Jeff Carter's. I think Mike can fit into that role for us.”

Q: What do you think of today's events?
Stevens: “We are all extremely excited of the direction of the team right now. We have not only added skilled players, but extremely competitive players. You look at the former captains we have, they were captains for a reason where they were. It’s because they have strong character. I am extremely excited about the shape of the team right now and I am extremely excited for training camp to come around and get going."

Q: Do you now have to worry about all the players' personalities mixing?
Stevens: "That is always the biggest challenge. Our goal is to get into training camp, get everyone thinking the same and get everyone on the same page. There has been a lot of correspondence with our players already in terms of fitness. When we get to training camp, we are gong to hit the ground running and get everyone on the same page. I think we are going to find a collection of players here, both young and old, that are coming here who are excited about being part of the Flyers organization and they are excited about getting this thing going in the right direction. We are very optimistic.”
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