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Joffrey Lupul/Jason Smith Conference Calls

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Joffrey Lupul Conference Call

Q:  Talk about the fact that you have gone from Southern California to Alberta and now to Philadelphia in less then three years. 
Lupul:  “It’s definitely unexpected getting traded, especially twice in two years, but it’s exciting too. I can’t wait to get to Philadelphia.  I look forward to a fresh start.”

Q:  Is it going to be a lot different playing in the east as opposed to playing for a team out west?
Lupul:  “I look forward to it.  The Eastern Conference is a little less travel, which is gong to be nice.  The game seems to be a little bit more open there, a little more offensive and it’s going to be fun.”

Q:  Some of the writers are saying that you just never found your niche in Edmonton. Can you talk about what happened there?  You were hot when you left Anaheim, you went to Edmonton and it looked like you struggled.

Lupul:  “I was coming off the playoffs in Anaheim where I thought I played the best hockey I ever really played in the playoffs.  It was one of those things where you get traded and things just didn’t seem right from the get go there.  I just couldn’t find, like you said, my niche there that made me successful the year before.  Then you get frustrated and confidence becomes a factor and then everything kind of just snowballed and turned into a little bit of a nightmare season.  I can’t wait to get back and try to prove myself again.”

Q:  Could you describe yourself as a player and how you think you will fit into the Flyers?
Lupul:  “Solid, a solid player.  I don’t know if I do anything overly exceptional, but I think the one thing I can do is score goals when I get the opportunity.  I always seemed to be a bit of a goal scorer in the past, so hopefully I can get back on track with that this year.”

Q:  Did it have an effect on you that you were playing in your hometown of Edmonton?
Lupul:  “It was tough, but I have never used that as an excuse for the season for the struggles that I had.  It was a lot different going from Southern California where no one really knows hockey too much to go into Edmonton where every person in town knows basically knows who you are and is looking at you wherever you go.  It was a bit of a shock going back there, but I wouldn’t say that was the reason for my poor season.”

Q:  Did you get moved a little bit on different line combinations and if so, who did you play with in Edmonton?
Lupul:  “Pretty much anyone and everyone.  We had a tough season as a team and he (Head Coach Craig MacTavish) was mixing it up all the time.  I never really had solid linemates for more than 10 or 15 games.”

Q:  Do you see yourself as a second-line winger?
Lupul:  “I believe I can get back to those numbers, be a 30-goal scorer.  The one year I had 28 and then I had a good playoff and hopefully get back in that form.  I definitely look forward to a fresh start, a new season and a new team.  I have some friends on the team already which makes it a little easier.”

Q:  Who are some of your friends?
Lupul:  “Scottie Upshall, he was with me yesterday. We were out at my cabin here back in Alberta and he was out there with me when I got the call.  He is excited.  I am friends with Scott Hartnell as well.  I spoke to him, we are all pretty excited.”

Q:  What was that like getting the phone call when Scottie was with you?
Lupul:  “Talking to Scottie, he made me so excited.  He was raving about the organization and some of the guys on the team.  Some of the young guys he said really have great chemistry there.  He loves the city and he is getting me excited definitely.”

Q:  There were rumors that you were coming here as back as far as the late fall, had you heard those?  Was this a total shock to you or had you thought that maybe you might become a Flyer one day?
Lupul:  “I heard a bit last year.  This summer, I have been down in California and honestly, you don’t hear as much as far as rumors go there.  It was a bit of a surprise, but you can never be too shocked by them.  It happens, it can happen to anyone.  More then anything it was a surprise and exciting.”

Q:  What are the Flyers getting in Jason Smith?
Lupul:  “Everything.  He is just a solid, solid hockey player, solid guy, great teammate, he was our captain in Edmonton.  He was probably the best captain I ever had for sure.  Just a solid guy, tough, sticks up for his teammates.  A guy that will do anything to win.”

Q:  Have you talked to him since the trade?
Lupul:  “Yes, I talked to him yesterday.  He is excited too.  And then us signing (Daniel) Briere just added to the whole day.  When I spoke to him (Smith), he was a little bit shocked.  He had been in Edmonton for pretty much 10 years and he was the captain there so he was surprised.  I think that he is excited to come to a new place.  We both think that we are coming to a place where we have a real good chance to win a championship.”

Q:  Do guys around the league really feel that?  This team was the worst in the league last year.
Lupul:  “They have made it pretty obvious there that they are going to do what it takes to win.  Get (Scott) Hartnell and (Kimmo) Timonen before the free agency even started, that was a pretty aggressive plan and that shows they are not satisfied with the season last year and that is exciting for a player coming in.”

Q:  How did you get the name Joffrey?
Lupul:  “I have been asked that question so many times and I still don’t even really know the answer. It’s a weird selection I guess.”

Jason Smith Conference Call

Q:  How much of a shock was it to you, a long-time captain to be traded?
Smith:  “It was obviously a bit of a shock.  I hadn’t really expected it, but I guess these days the way the league works there is a lot more player movement than what there used to be and I am just happy to be a Flyer now.  My family is excited about it.  I am looking forward to the new challenge ahead.” 

Q:  Is it a difficult transition for you to move from Alberta to the East Coast in the United States?
Smith:  “I started playing in the league in New Jersey a little bit, had a couple of years there as a young guy. I enjoyed the East Coast. I am just looking forward to getting out there. My family is excited.  It will be a little bit of a change obviously going from a small city in Canada out to the east, but I am looking forward to it.  It will be a lot of fun.”

Q:  With the fact that you, (Daniel) Briere and (Kimmo) Timonen are all former captains, does this help a little bit with the transition, having guys with experience?
Smith: “Yeah, I think anytime you are going to a situation of a team where you are having guys that are experienced and obviously the quality of guys that have been added to the team should be a lot of fun.  Training camp and getting a chance to know everyone and moving forward will be a lot of fun and be a good challenge.  I think probably everybody as a group coming in there will be excited to do well and have a successful season.”

Q:  It’s amazing the number of games you have played with the style of game that you play.
Smith:  “I try to keep as healthy as I can.  I have been lucky enough not to really incur anything major.  I got hurt and missed some games I think my second year in New Jersey and other than that I have had nothing really major and hopefully, it will stay that way.”

Q:  Do you consider yourself a master at shot blocking because you are among the league leaders?
Smith:  “It’s something that I have kind of acquired.  Learning to be in solid defensive position and being in a good spot in your defensive zone. If you are in a good spot, there is a good chance the puck and the players have to go through you to get to the net.  If I am not playing well defensively, then I am not playing my game.”

Q:  How did it feel when you learned you had been traded?
Smith:  “It was kind of a little bit nervous or lost feeling a little bit.  The first thing I thought about was my family, my wife and my kids and how they would react.  They are excited about it.  You kind of reflect back to your teammates and your good times and you think about that, but speaking to everyone I spoke with, whether it’s teammates that I had in Edmonton or people moving forward, I am just excited about a new chapter.  I am looking forward to having a lot of fun and playing well in Philly.”

Q:  Coming within a goal of winning the Stanley Cup in Edmonton, how much of that fire is left in you?
Smith:  “That’s the end all to playing.  I want to have that success and getting a taste of it a couple of years ago with Edmonton was something I will remember for a long time.  It makes me that much hungrier to have that childhood dream come true.”

Q:  As a hockey fan in Edmonton with all the moves they made recently (Chris Pronger, Ryan Smyth, you) how do you think they feel?
Smith:  “The fans of the city in Edmonton love the team and support the team.  They have gone through some tough times in years in the past and have always been there for it. They will be there to support the team again.  It was a lot of fun playing there.  I’m not in Edmonton now, so I don’t really know what the reaction has been.  They are good fans and there are a lot of good people in that city and they will be there to support the team that’s for sure.”

Q:  What do you think about the Flyers’ defense?
Smith:  “It should be fun.  It’s going to be important that we play well in the back end.  If you play well defensively and you play well in your own zone, you are going to give yourself a lot of opportunity to win a lot of games.  With the offensive guys (we have) upfront, hopefully we will score some goals and be really good in our end and not be giving up too many (goals).

Q:  The Flyers are without a captain right now, is this something you would like to have back on your jersey?
Smith:  “I am just looking forward to just getting there and playing.  There are guys who have been there for a lot of years and that is something that has not even been thought about.  I am just going to come there and just be happy to play, putting on that jersey and away we go.”

Q:  What is your scouting report of Joffrey (Lupul) and what should Flyers fans be seeing with him?
Smith:  “He is an exciting, gifted player.  The last year he kind of went through a year that everyone goes through.  He is looking forward to the challenges. He has been working out really well and hard this summer.  He is very gifted around the net and shoots the puck really well.  I am sure he will score a lot of goals for the Flyers.”

Q:  Can you talk about the rumors you heard and how that felt?
Smith:   “When I was younger, a little less experienced in the league, I would pay attention to the rumors and all the speculation of all the players being moved around the league, but after the past few years I have kind of not really paid attention to it.  I just worry about going out there and playing and dealing with that.  Just knowing that there are only a few guys in the league that can’t be traded if you are lucky enough to be one of those guys that has a no-trade clause.  It’s a matter of just picking yourself up and moving forward if that does happen.”

Q:  Any thoughts about going up against the team you came up with, the Devils, eight times?
Smith: “It should be a lot of fun.  I still know a few of the guys there from when I was there.  I am looking forward to playing them.  I’m excited about playing in the Eastern Conference and playing in an area where I don’t have to travel 29,000 miles every year!”

Q:  Is that the biggest difference between Conferences to you?
Smith:  “It’s funny when you talk to the guys that play on other teams. In Edmonton, you go on road trips for two and a half to three weeks, three or four times a year, and out East, you spend a lot more nights in your own bed and a lot more time with your family which I think is great.” 

Q:  As a (former) captain, what needs to happen when you have a group like this that has really not played together as a group? What needs to happen this season?
Smith:  “I think the biggest thing is to make sure we come together at camp and get comfortable with everybody and just play a solid team game.  It’s really important that you focus on the little things as a group.  I’m sure at training camp that everybody will be motivated to have a lot better year than what happened last year.”
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