Former Flyers captain and fan favorite Eric Desjardins will return to Philadelphia for the first time since retiring to be honored by the Flyers as they take on the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, January 11 at 7:00 p.m. at Wachovia Center. For tickets to the game, click here!
Desjardins took part in a conference call with media members on Tuesday afternoon. Below is a transcript of that call.Your reaction to coming back to Philadelphia to be honored by the Flyers?
Desjardins: I am really honored and excited about it. You play your career and you don't really think about stuff like that but when you see that people are taking time to put a nice ceremony like that with your name, it is kind of nice and I am really flattered about it and I thank the Flyers."How do you want to be remembered as a Flyer?
Desjardins: "Somebody that put out a good effort every night and gave everything that I had night in and night out, was consistent and somebody that really cared about the Flyers' success."How have you spent your time since retiring? Have you given a lot of thought about your career, have you given any thought to playing again?
Desjardins: "At first, it was tough not getting ready in the fall for Training Camp and the season. It's an adjustment there is no doubt about it but I try to keep myself busy. I am involved in minor hockey here (Montreal), I coach my son (Jakob) and I started up a hockey camp for defensemen. I joined a group of three other guys, a goaltender specialist, a power skating specialist and a stick handling specialist and we put up a program that we are going to try to develop for the kids here, so that takes a lot of my time. As far as the thoughts to coming back and playing, I would be crazy to think that I can play at the level that I need to be at to be competitive in the league. It has been over seven months since I have really trained or skated hard so it makes no sense to make a comeback. I am trying to adjust to life after a career (in hockey)."Mark Recchi once said that when you win a (Stanley) Cup that early in your career you are usually not ready for it and a generation later it occurs to you that it came too early and sometimes you don't really appreciate it, do you feel that way?
Desjardins: "It never comes too early. I understand what you are saying how sometimes when the first one has so much excitement involved and you are young and you think it's going to happen every year or every other year so you don't really enjoy every moment of it. It's something that you would love to do twice, Rex (Recchi) was lucky that he had the chance to do it twice. But you are right, sometimes everything goes so fast that again with the excitement you don't realize what you are in and you don't feel everything that is happening. So yes, it is tough sometimes when you look back and say 'I should have enjoyed it more or something like that' but I had the chance to win one. I would have loved to win another with the Flyers. It would have been different and I would have probably enjoyed it a lot more."Some players that have retired in the same time frame as you, Steve Yzerman, Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull, they have taken front office jobs. Do you have any interest in doing that one day with the Flyers or anyone else in terms of getting involved in management, scouting or anything like that?
Desjardins: "Right now, it is too early for me to think about doing something like that. For me, it was important to step back and step outside of the game and just enjoy my family and spend quality time with the kids and be a little more involved with the day-to-day stuff at home. I realize how much I enjoy coaching and teaching the kids and maybe it's something that I could do later down the road. Maybe be an assistant or who knows maybe be in the management side of it but for now I think I have to work my way up there. You don't want to step in the big action when you think (because) you played all those years that coaching is easy. I realize that (and) I just coach at a novice level and it's something. I can't imagine being behind the bench of an American Hockey League or National Hockey League team right now. I think it would be too fast for me. I have to learn how things are done behind the bench and maybe later it's something that I can see myself doing."I got the sense from talking to the medical staff that the last two seasons you really went through hell on a daily basis just to get yourself so you could play that night or to go through a practice. That you were in a lot of pain with a lot of different injures. Can you give us some sense what the last couple years were like for you?
Desjardins: "I just think we all play with injures and aches here and there. I just think it is part of the job and it's just after a while you just have to make a decision 'Am I willing to take this?' And if it takes too much time to get ready for games that is when sometimes you have to make a decision and that is what it came down to for me. I was not willing to go through all that stuff. I'm not different from any other guy in the league. There are a lot of guys that play with injuries. Just for me it was too much to be at the level I competed and I wanted to be, that is why. I don't want to say my situation was worse than any other guys."This time last year the Flyers were leading the league looking like a really good team and this time this year they are in last place. How has that been for you to watch this from afar?
Desjardins: "It's tough. You know a lot of guys on the team and you want them to do well. And to see it in one year that they are in last place (is tough). Like you said last year we finished on the top at the Christmas break so it's tough. A lot of people are saying 'Maybe you can help them," but it's easy to say it. I don't think I would make a big difference. It's just that it's a lot of stuff that happened in the past. That is why they are where they are right now and it is going to take some time for them to turn it around and hopefully they can do it. Sometimes looking back you wonder if you could have done more to help them especially to go through tough times like that, the young guys being more ready, take charge a little bit, but that's the past. You have to look at it and hopefully they can finish the season on a better note because sometimes when you don't have success, that carries over to the next season and the same thing, when you have success it helps you for the next year."Can you bring us back to the day when you were traded from Montreal to Philadelphia? Was it a bit of a shock at the time or were you looking for a change?
Desjardins: "For sure it was a big shock. Growing up in Quebec, a French-speaking guy, you think that you are going to spend the rest of your life in your country and in your province. But once I got to Philly, it was great right from the start. They had a great team. We started winning right away, we made the playoffs and we had a great year. It was a fun year. Every time we stepped on the ice we had a great feeling. With Terry Murray (then Flyers' head coach) he really put in a fun system and everyone really bought into it. We had a lot of success that year. It was a lot of fun. So it was pretty easy once I got to Philly to adjust and I felt at home."Aside from playing with Chris Therien, what was your greatest memory playing with the Flyers?
Desjardins: "You say that as a joke (laughs) but I had a lot of fun playing with Chris. We had a pretty good six years together. We made a pretty good pair. We played well together. I enjoyed playing with him and we complemented each other really well I think. There are a lot of good memories in Philly. Two times we played the (New Jersey) Devils in the Semifinals. The year we went to the Finals against Detroit. Those were great times. I played with so many great teammates and great leaders playing with Ron Hextall, John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Simon Gagne, Eric Lindros, Paul Coffey, all those guys, and I am mentioning just a few but there are other great players that I played along with there and I really enjoyed it." What was your hardest or worst moment here as a Flyer? When you had to stand and face all the media before Game Four in Detroit, that to me was a very difficult day for you.
Desjardins: "Not really. I would have to say there was not really one moment for the toughest time. It was probably the series against the Devils when were leading three (games) to one and Game Five, Game Six and Game Seven, every game we felt like it was slipping from us. We felt so good leading them three (games) to one and then feeling it was going away from us. That was probably a tough moment. After Game Seven we all remember Eric (Lindros) getting hit again and us losing that game and being one game from another Final, for me that would have to be the worst moment. Of course that was not really pleasant in Detroit when we are losing three (games) to nothing and nobody wants to go three nothing and then four nothing in a Stanley Cup Final, but I think that was not as bad as the series against the Devils."Can you bring us back to when you were on the Canadiens and you scored a hat trick in the Stanley Cup Finals, was that like a blur?
Desjardins: "It was, it was unbelievable. It actually took me a couple games to come back from that game (laughs), I can't remember playing the games in Los Angeles! It was the first time I got booed when they introduced me in Los Angeles. In the Finals, they present each team and they booed me because I scored the hat trick the game before, so that was a weird feeling. Feeling so good about scoring three goals but you go the other building and they start booing you, I understood that but it was kind of a funny feeling. There is no doubt about it that is was a great moment. It's funny because I was doing a (radio) interview this morning and they played me the soundtrack of my last goal (of the hat trick) and it brought me goose bumps again. It was an amazing game."You only played for Philadelphia and Montreal, can you compare the fans?
Desjardins: "They are pretty similar I would have to say. They want an honest effort and when they see you give it, even if you lose, they will be pretty good with you. But again they want to win just like any other city. When you lose and you don't give everything you have, sometimes they can be tough and they have all the rights to do it. I was lucky to play in Montreal because they really enjoyed hockey and followed you and when you play, you want to feel that the fans are interested about what you are doing. In Philly, everybody says that they are tough, but I never had problems with them. They were great with me for all those years. We didn't win the Cup, but every time the playoffs started it was a great feeling. Every time we stepped on the ice even in the regular season, but it was even more special in the playoffs, everybody was really jacked up and it was a great feeling."