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Talking the Great Outdoors

by Phil Coffey /

Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff feels that the
Winter Classic was worth it despite the bad weather.
The AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic was a big hit with the 71,000-plus fans in attendance at Ralph Wilson Stadium and also with television audiences in the United States and Canada.

The players and coaches also seem enamored with the outdoor experience, too, so here is some post-Classic reaction as well as other tidbits from around the NHL.


”It was a lot of fun and the players and both teams worked hard. Had to battle through some elements but it was all part of the program today.”

-- Sabres coach Lindy Ruff


Yeah, it's a great feeling and always a great experience, all in all. You know, we've got some pretty decent weather. It wasn't too cold. I thought they did a pretty good job of trying to maintain the ice. And obviously when you win, it's a lot nicer.”

-- Penguins forward Sidney Crosby


”I like facing Sidney. I've seen a lot of him the last few years, so, you know, I really want to stop him, obviously. But I thought I made a good play to stay with him. I didn't think he made quite the play he wanted to, but it worked out for him.”

-- Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on facing Sidney Crosby in the shootout that won the game.


”It could have been a little bit of a factor, but it was to both teams. You know, it was not like one team got a disadvantage. At the 10-minute mark in the third period (the teams changed ends), and then we had an overtime, and so I think if you look at it, it was fair for both teams.”

-- Penguins coach Michel Therrien


”On breaks I looked around and it was incredible. We've got some of the greatest fans. I don't know if it would have been more than a few hundred people had left. When I looked around, there didn't seem to be an empty seat in the building, which was incredible. It was a great day that I think everybody kind of enjoyed.”

-- Sabres coach Lindy Ruff


“You watched it on TV and you think, ‘Man, it must be cold, it must be tough, it must be just a long afternoon.’ I mean, it was a long game. But then you think about it and think, ‘Man, would that be cool?’”

-- Flyers goalie Marty Biron, a former Sabre


“I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the snow on the ice. The game looked really slow. But at the same time, it was like when you were growing up, playing outside in the snow, or in the street. It looked like a lot of fun.”

-- Flyers forward Daniel Briere, another former Sabre


“It was pretty neat to watch. There could have been better conditions for them, but it would have been pretty neat to play in.”

-- Canucks forward Ryan Kesler


Well Said

"You know, for me growing up, I played a lot outside and a lot of their guys did, too and when you see 70,000 people jammed into a stadium to watch hockey, it's a good sign. The atmosphere and environment, I don't think you can beat that. I think it's something to look back and say we had a lot of great memories being a part of it."

-- Penguins center Sidney Crosby

“You could feel 70,000 pairs of eyes on you. I was just focusing not to lose the puck because there was a lot of snow on the ice. It was a different day, but it was special. When you’re done playing hockey, you’ll look back and have great memories of this event.”

-- Sabres forward Ales Kotalik, who took the first shot in the Winter Classic shootout.


“I really enjoyed the game we played in Edmonton. It was cold, but I enjoyed it, and if we had a chance to do it again, you can count on me.”

-- Montreal Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois


“It was good for the sport. At some point, I’d like to (play) at Yankee Stadium, or wherever they end up doing it. I don’t know how easy it is (for a goalie) to see the puck, but it still looked like fun.”

-- Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro


“It looked great. I liked it. Fenway Park? That would be great.”

-- Bruins winger P.J. Axelsson


“It was awesome. That was my first job, working at an outdoor rink in Ottawa. I was the shovel guy, and locked up the shop.”

-- Bruins center Marc Savard


“We have a lot of quality young people around here. The future is really exciting for this organization. We know we still have a long way to go but we’re really proud of what we’ve done in the first half.”

-- Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky


“If we want to put ourselves in good playoff position, we need to be a good home team. We did that last year and we need to do it again.”

Well Said II

"I'd love to do it again. I thought it was, I thought it was awesome."

-- Sabres coach Lindy Ruff

-- Anaheim Ducks goalie J.S. Giguere


“For his own personal well-being, he needs to see some success. He’s a guy who has scored goals his whole life, and then all of a sudden in the NHL, it’s just dried up. That’s why he needs to go down there, play well, have some fun and feel good about himself again.”

-- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock on sending Gilbert Brule to the minors.


“I just told a couple of guys, the last time I scored I think there was an eclipse. It feels really good.”

Detroit’s Dallas Drake after scoring in a 4-1 win over the Stars Wednesday.


“We’re going to take (Gagner) out for a game and give him some individual stuff to work on in practice and then get him back in there. It was highly unlikely he was going to play every game. This is just part of the process of trying to work on some individual things that maybe have slipped in his game.”

-- Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish on sitting rookie Sam Gagner.


“It’s funny how it works. When things aren’t going well the puck doesn’t hit you. Even if you don’t see them, they don’t hit you. Sometimes, when things are going well, you don’t see the puck coming and they hit you. ... Last two games, the puck has been hitting me.”

-- Los Angeles Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera


“There’s not a double standard. I understand as well as all you guys that are talking about (Martin Skoula) that he’s not playing well. I see that, too.

“For sure, when you play one game and the guy that you don’t like makes one mistake and it’s in the net and you lose the game, you want to shoot him. I want to shoot him, too. But I’ve got to help him, you know?”

Well Said III

"I think when you see not a fan left through the whole game. That's pretty remarkable and something that the league, I'm sure, can see. You know, Orchard Park, New York is a pretty special place in the hearts of a lot of hockey fans and hopefully we can sell it more and more to the nation."

-- Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell

-- Wild coach Jacques Lemaire


“Just the experience of putting on a USA jersey and being able to play for my country is unbelievable. These are the best players in the world and playing with them and against them is the best part.”

-- Nashville Predators prospect Blake Geoffrion from the World Junior Championships.


“We are in a critical part of our season. We have to go with the players that are playing the best for us, whether it is up front, on defense or in the net. Egos are going to have to be put aside. We are in the middle of it. If we had been a more consistent team, we would have six to 10 more points.”

-- Predators coach Barry Trotz


“The biggest thing with Jamie is he’s got a heart of gold. He cares very deeply about the hockey club and when he’s not playing up to his potential it bothers him. He has to start moving his feet. He had an idea that’s what he wasn’t doing and I just reassured him he had to start skating again and get that junkyard dog mentality that he plays with as a non-stop worker. I thought Jamie took strides to get his game back. I thought he played much better.”

-- Devils coach Brent Sutter on Jamie Langenbrunner


“What I like most is people don’t call it the new NHL any more, they’re used to it now. Every once in a while you’ll see an old playoff series on that hockey channel. You just sit and watch that now and it’s, ‘Oh my god, look at that hook, look at that guy getting mobbed or held.’

“As much as players look and laugh at the way goalies used to play the position, now they also look and laugh at the clutching and grabbing. It’s just such a thing of the past.

“For every frustrating penalty that is maybe a little iffy, players would absolutely go bananas if they went back to the old way.”

-- Rangers winger Brendan Shanahan


“We can sit here and talk all we want about X’s and O’s ... that isn’t our problem right now. Our problem is our mental toughness and our desperation level, and those are pretty simple things. And that starts with the core.”

-- Lightning coach John Tortorella


“With this personnel right now, our focus is on playing sound defensively and from that we should be able to generate enough scoring chances to get a decent offensive production. I think we’re third in the league in man-games lost ... and we’re playing really sound defensively, we’re not giving up a lot of chances or a lot of goals. We’re happy with the way we’re playing ... you have to play within your limits.”

-- Canucks coach Alain Vigneault


”Ty was great for us. He's a great guy. I'm happy for him. I'm not happy what he did to us the last couple games. But I'm not surprised because he's had a history of playing some good hockey. And I think he had added incentive, let's not kid ourselves.”

-- Lindy Ruff on losing two straight to former backup Ty Conklin.

Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.



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