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Jacques Martin Chat Transcript

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers sat down with Panthers General Manager and Head Coach Jacques Martin on Thursday evening to answer the burning questions that are on Panther fans' minds.  See below for what Jacques had to say:

Question from golfskipper: How much longer will it take for Michael Frolik (1st round pick in 2006) to make the lineup?

Martin: “I would expect Michael to be a dominant player in junior hockey this year and I would hope he’d be ready to play either the start of next season or half way through the following season. At the most one year in the American Hockey League. We'll give him a chance to play directly from junior depending on our club and how he plays in our camp. I expect he’ll be on our team in two years.”

Question from Ian: What do you expect from Rostislav Olesz and what are you going to do with all your defensemen?

Martin: “We have eight defensemen now. I think you never have enough depth at defense. As you know 82 games is a long season and you have injuries. I think the competition we have at training camp this year will be very good to improve our performance at that position. We have six defensemen returning and we added two individuals we think will compete for ice time.

“As far as Olesz, I see him, hopefully, achieving the 20 goal plateau this year. This will be his third year. I think he’s a strong player, dependable. He can play on the penalty kill or power play. I think he has a tremendous upside. Hopefully, we’ll finish more. That’s one area of his game we hope he improves on – scoring. Getting more shots on net. But he plays in traffic, he’s very dependable, and look at him as big part of our nucleus moving forward.”

Question from Scarface: What young players in the system do you expect to make a big impact at the NHL level this year?

Martin: “I don’t know if there’s anyone who will make a big impact. I think players like (Kamil) Kreps and (Anthony) Stewart can be knocking at the door. Probably (Kenndal) McArdle. He’s a first year pro. I don’t know if they’re ready but they’re individuals who can be used in recall situations or, depending on how they play in camp, they’ll dictate whether they’re ready or not.”

Question from Marxo:
After reading up on (draft pick) Keaton Ellerby, I am liking him more and more. What NHL player does he remind you of? I have heard comparisons to Chris Phillips, Jay Bouwmeester and Chris Pronger. Also, Michal Repik was explosive in the Memorial Cup. What NHL player does he remind you of? Milan Hejduk?

Martin: “I think he’s a high character kid who plays with an edge. Probably Chris Phillips is a tremendous comparison. I’m really excited about him playing this summer with Team Canada in the Canada-Russia series. He’s one kid who’s coming directly to our main camp so I’m excited about seeing how he performs. I’m really high on his character. He’s well grounded and seems to know what is needed to get to the next level. His cousin is Shane Doan, who I had the pleasure of coaching in the Olympics and the World Cup. High character individual. He’s very reliable defensively. He may not be as big as Hejduk, but he’s very competitive. I liked the way he performed in key situations and when the game was on the line in the Memorial Cup against the best teams.”

Question from Jim Graesch: We need some bangers up front. What is the status of Anthony Stewart? He seemed to be unsure of where to go and what to do at times last year.

Martin: “I think that’s part of not being ready to play in the NHL. He has the skating ability and the skill to play, but he hasn’t grasped the work ethic it requires and the understanding of his role or contribution to get to the next level. He’s trying to play a finesse game versus trying to play more of a simple, up-and-down, grind to the net game. When he grasps those concepts and improves his work ethic, he’ll have a better opportunity.”

Question from mojochicken: Now that the Panthers are set in net with (Tomas) Vokoun…are you going to try to sign any top free agents?

Martin: “Basically, we’re looking to fill some holes up front. Right now we have two goalies, eight defensemen and seven forwards, really. So there’s some spots, three or four we need to fill. Some of them may be filled before that, people like (Jozef) Stumpel or (Martin) Gelinas.”

Question from John Dinelle and others: Why wouldn’t you sign Juraj Kolnik?

Martin:  “We’re looking for a player to fulfill more of a physical presence on the roster. We’ve identified that and that’s what we want to use that money for.”

Question from Scott: With us sharing an AHL affiliate in Rochester with Buffalo, are there are plans to have our own affiliate? Also, do you ever see the possibility of an AHL team in Florida?

Martin: "There is a plan for the organization to have our own AHL team. We feel we’ll have enough players in the organization to have our own team and have the proper development. As far as an AHL team in Florida, as far as it would be an advantage, I see it as a disadvantage from a league standpoint because I think the best location is in the east with the proximity of the rest of the team. Plus, less travel and more practice and more time to develop their skills."

Question from Jon: Do you remember the Year of the Rat as an opposing coach? Can we bring back the rat if we make the playoffs?

Martin: "I remember the playoffs when they scored a goal. The problem is the league has policy regarding that. I think it would be great because people identify with that year and that team. It gets the fans going."

Question from Crossbar: What measures are being taken to solve the team’s penalty problems?

Martin: “I think we’ve targeted players that have quicker feet. We want to improve the quickness of our team. I think with that dimension you improve the skill of a team and when you improve the skill of a team you get less penalties.”

Question from Rolexwatch: Thoughts about the assistant coach opening and is Joe Nieuwendyk a possibility?

Martin: “Joe, at this point in time, doesn’t want to be an assistant. He’s a special assistant to the GM and getting an opportunity to experience all phases of the operation, whether it's scouting or player development. As far as an assistant, I’m just starting to look for that, maybe an experienced individual, maybe a former defenseman. I’ll turn my attention to hiring an assistant after July 1.”

Question from Martin: I’m a 17-year-old boy who doesn’t really have a big future in hockey but I’m playing at the highest level I can. What I want to know is how do you become a great coach and do you need to play in the NHL?

Martin: “No, not at all. There’s coaches who have played in the NHL who have become great coaches and other who never played but started in minor, junior or college hockey and worked their way up. In my case, I didn’t play professional hockey but college hockey. Then I graduated in sports administration and started coaching at the college level, junior level. I coached for 10 years at different levels until graduating in 1986 to the NHL. There’s different ways to become a coach and part of my education-training was taking coaching courses as well.”

Question from Jordan: Whether it be the line-up, in game strategy or anything, what is one specific thing that will be done differently from the past several seasons of disappointment? And how will it be different?

Martin: "I think we've acquired a defenseman in Cory Murphy who will really help our power play. Another part of our improvement is the fact that as our young defense get more experience,  more poise, it will be a big factor in us getting better. And I think we want to bring a little more of a physical dimension to our team."

Question from HOncology: What forwards are you considering offers to, have any already agreed to terms and how likely is resigning Gelinas and Stumpel?

Martin: "Well, we're very close to resigning Stumpy. I think there's a good chance we'll get both. I think over 50 percent chance we'll get Gelinas."

Question from Don Kaye: Is there any doubt on signing Stephen Weiss to a long term contract?

Martin: "I don't think so. Long-term could be between three, four and six years. I think the organization is going to do everything in its power to get him a longterm deal."

Thank you, Jacques. That's all the time we have right now Panther fans. Stay tuned to for more chats, video and features.
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