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Holmgren, Stevens Reflect and Look Ahead

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Paul Holmgren at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. (Flyers Photos)

(Voorhees, NJ) – Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren and head coach John Stevens addressed the media on Tuesday from the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone regarding the recently concluded season and the club’s plans moving forward this summer.

To view the complete press conferences in their entirety, click the links below.
Paul Holmgren - May 20
John Stevens - May 20

Below are excerpts from the press conferences.

* * *

Paul Holmgren

On his offseason priorities:
Holmgren: “Obviously, we have some work to do to get some of our restricted guys signed.  We’ve got to take a look and our unrestricted guys and see what we can do.

“I think there are some areas in the game where we need to get better. Our overall mobility and speed on our back end needs to get better, whether we have those players internally or not, we will see. I think we do have a couple of guys that are coming, whether they are ready for a full time basis or not I am not sure yet. We will see how it goes. We still don’t know what the (salary) cap will be. We have to go through some internal stuff here over the next week-to-10 days and try to come up with the direction we want to go.”

On Jeff Carter getting targeted by other teams as a restricted free agent:
Holmgren: “I don’t have a gut feeling. Our job is to do what we can to make our team better. Is Jeff Carter part of that equation? Yes, I have no doubts about that.”
Paul Holmgren has "no doubts" that Jeff Carter is a big part of the Flyers' future. (Getty Images)

On John Stevens:
Holmgren: “I think just going through the experiences that he went through with his team are going to make him better. I think we started out good and then we went through a period of games where we would win one, lose one. I think that consistency has to come and I think that comes from the coaching staff. I don’t know if we can afford as a team next year to go through stretches where we lose six games in a row or get one point out of a possible 20. I am not sure we can afford to do that and get into the playoffs. I think we were fortunate this year.”

On Simon Gagne:
Holmgren: “Toward the end of the year Simon had been working out. He was just getting ready to go back on the ice. I believe that he will be a good player for us next year and a healthy player. I have not seen any reports or heard from any of our doctors or that doctors that have seen Simon that have lead me to believe otherwise.”

On being proud of this season’s accomplishments:
Holmgren: “I’m proud of the players and the coaches. We got beat 7-1 in Pittsburgh (March 16) and I am not sure what created the turnaround, but we did make a turnaround from that point on and then got ourselves in the playoffs. To their credit, they hung together.

“I think John probably deserves more credit than anything for that, because it could have went really bad from that point and it didn’t. I give John the credit for that, he hung tough. He is a man of integrity and he is a very confident young man and confident in his beliefs as a coach.”

* * *

John Stevens

On if he is getting over the loss to Pittsburgh:
Stevens: “We are starting to. There is a saying that if you don’t invest very much then winning isn’t very exciting and losing doesn’t hurt very much and I have to tell you, the way we beat Montreal and the way we beat Washington, it was really exciting. 

“When we lost to Pittsburgh, it’s still stinging right now so I think it’s just an indication of how much we have invested in this year and how hard our team has worked and how much commitment has been made. I think it’s encouraging to see the point that we have gotten to, but I think it’s also important to realize there is still a lot of work to be done to close the gap on the teams that are ahead of us.”

On the current team:
Stevens:  “We feel like we are really deep up front and we feel like we need to get better on the back end.  I think any time you look at your whole team you are always going to try to do things to make your team better.  It’s obvious with our team we have really good depth up front in our scoring and in our forward positions. We have younger players in the back end that have gotten better. If we are going to get better we need to get better really at every position whether it is done by our younger players getting more experience and getting better, or adding people from the outside.”
John Stevens completed his first full season as the Flyers' head coach by leading them to the Eastern Conference Finals. (Getty Images)

On if the Flyers should be considered an elite team now:
Stevens:  “Not according to anyone else. It seems like every team we have beat there was more talk about them than us. Now, I think we’ve got ourselves in a position where we’ve gained some credibility. It’s not easy to make the playoffs. We had 95 points and had to fight until the last game of the year to get in. Now, we are trying to go from where we were last year and make gains.

“All the teams around you get better, the teams that finished ahead of you are still good teams.  But I think clearly, we are a much better team than we were. We have a great group of players moving forward, and I don’t think there is any question that we have gained more credibility as a group after having the year that we had.”

On if Mike Richards could be the captain next season:
Stevens: “That is a question I don’t think I can answer right now, but certainly a discussion we will have. Clearly Richie has made huge gains in his ability to be a leader on our team. He was a designated assistant captain this year. He really was one of our best players every night on both sides of the puck. I think until you are an established player in the league, it’s hard to become a leader of an NHL team, but now he has clearly proven himself along with some of these other young players that they are very good players at this level.

“He has earned the respect of his teammates and the organization. There is no question that he deserves consideration to be a big part of our leadership moving forward.”

On Martin Biron:
Stevens: “I don’t think there is any question that Marty got to a level of play that he had yet to achieve in his career. He was an unproven playoff goalie. He showed the ability not only to win a Game 7 in overtime, but was a big difference in that game. I think he answered a lot of questions, and then he went into Montreal and was probably our best player in that series. 

“He is a big reason we got to the Conference Finals. He raised the bar for himself. I think he has shown the ability to play at a high level game after game. I think he is excited, and we are all excited about what next year will bring in terms of his level of play.”
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