Here's some quick bullet points from the Jim Rutherford / Paul Maurice press conference. Between this and player interviews there's a lot to cover today, so here's some highlights in the meantime. Also: Video | Audio
Rutherford said that, despite the season not ending the way he wanted it to, overall it was a good season. "Most of all, this team had a lot of heart and a lot of character," he said.
Rutherford on the loss to Pittsburgh: "Our team mentally had really spent a lot in the first two rounds. When we got off to the start in Pittsburgh, losing 3-2 in a game that with a few breaks one way or another we could have won ... we're a team with momentum. I think as that series went on, we were mentally drained."
Rutherford on the team's transformation under Maurice: "Paul did an exceptional job, along with Ron Francis and the rest of the coaching staff. He did what I hoped he could do with this team. We needed to have more confident in ourselves when we were winning games and losing games, and it took a while.
"This team came together. I credit the players, because they have to do it night after night, and I credit the coaching staff."
Rutherford on Rod Brind'Amour: "First of all, nothing other than Eric Staal and Cam Ward are cast in stone at this point. There's no reason for Rod to come back as a fourth-line center. If we get all the players signed that we want, we have Rod Brind'Amour, Eric Staal, Jokinen and Cullen down the middle with Sutter coming. That's why we have training camp, to see where guys fit in. I don't care how old you are (missing training camp) really sets a player back. Once he took a break I really think it helped him.
"There's a little bit of a logjam there (at center). He's in the right frame of mind, he's not going to deal with an injury this summer, and he'll get equal opportunity just like everybody else.
"Up until his point in his career, he's always been slotted into a spot. There will be a battle in training camp and throughout the season to see who gets those extra minutes.
"There's been no discussion of any change (in captaincy). No one has brought that up, and I don't think it's going to be an issue going forward."
Maurice on Brind'Amour: "Ron Francis was in a similar situation. I have had some experience with players, and they understand everything as long as they've been given an opportunity. I think as long as the communication is there - certainly the respect is there. Roddy Brind'Amour has changed this franchise. He'll get what he earns, and I think that happened this year."
Maurice on how he's changed as a coach: - "I can have a relationship with a player and still critique his performance at the same time. Developing those relationships with the players has made things more enjoyable. There's probably a little more of a comfort level with me now. I kept my distance the first time around with my players because a lot of them were older. I'm out of my office more than I used to be, and there's more traffic through it."
Rutherford on Maurice coming back: "We need to make the decision on the new contract. I think people are kind of taking that for granted, which I expect. I've had a lot of meetings. I'll get to Detroit next week to meet my boss and hopefully get through this process of what people will expect the end result will be."
Rutherford on the coaching staff: "Based on the information I have now, I would say yes (to coaching staff staying intact). I try to get as much information as I can on anything I do, and I think it's an important part of the process."
Rutherford on Ron Francis' role for next season: "I'm not going to get to those meetings next week. Our coaching staff has a whole had great chemistry together."
Rutherford on Erik Cole: "One of the weaknesses of our team was that we lacked some team speed and some size up front, and he brings that. I don't think Erik's play can be totally judged on his point total in the playoffs, but I will say it was disapponting. For a player of his caliber to go 18 games and not score a goal - that's probably harder to do than score a goal.
"What's going to play a role is what it's going to cost to keep these players. A lot of players; contracts are up one year from now, and we're going into a season where it's hard to project our revenues with the economy. Then it's the same old story that I have to deal with every year: how are these agents going to be and where do they set the market value for these players? We have some players that really did have good years to put themselves in a strong position.
"Erik Cole's playoff performance would not eliminate him as being part of our team next year. We still need that type of player and he's still a good player."
Rutherford on young players coming through the team's system: "Conboy will definitely be here - we've already solidified that with his one-way contract. Rodney had a good year, Carson really improved on defense. Those guys will all be in the mix.
The group of guys were really excited about is that next group of guys with Boychuk, Bowman, Sutter, McBain the defenseman and Murphy the goalie, who was Canadian Hockey League goalie of the year. This is a group of that we'll really have to look closely at in training camp. Is the best thing for their development to play a year in the minors or half a year or will somebody step up and grab a job right out of training camp?
With that group of prospects - we go through peaks and valleys where the cupboard gets a little bit bare with prospects because I may have traded them for something we needed that season, but we're actually in a position now where we have some depth in our organization and a good group of prospects.