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Panthers Introductory Press Conference: Transcript

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Dale Tallon: Good morning. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve acquired 11 new Panthers. It’s a significant step towards winning the cup. These players have passion and the willingness to win. And they want to be Florida Panthers. This couldn’t be possible without Cliff Viner, Michael Yormark…We have a tremendous staff that did a lot of work. I’d like to thank Scott Luce, director of scouting…as well as Bill Torrey. In the office, great job by Giselle, our intern, and Justin Copertino. The man on my left has been outstanding…I’d be lost without him, he’s a great partner. Great job Mike (Santos). I want to thank these players for showing their commitment. A lot came a long way for this day. Shows a lot of their passion and their dedication to being a Panther. (Sean) Bergenheim was recently married so he’s on his honeymoon. (Marcel) Goc has a newborn, so he was unable to get here.

I want to thank all of these players for their commitment. We’re changing the culture here. These players have a…The thing they all have in common is their desire to play…Today marks a new day for the Panthers. We should be excited, and here are your new Panthers.

Mike Santos: First of all, the kind words Dale said about me is great. The feeling is reciprocal. There aren’t a lot of guys that have the confidence and ability to let you do your job. That’s all I wanted before I got here, and Dale’s given me the opportunity to do my job. I look forward to continuing to do that.

One guy we didn’t thank, the man we have to thank for bringing back our original logos on the red sweaters, Bill Torrey. They do look great don’t they?

As the last couple of weeks unfolded, the staff has worked hard all year to look at the types of people we want here – the guys with the right character, guys who fit here. One by one we’ve talked about the different guys. We’ve had relationships with players from the past. The one thing that kept coming out was “You’re really going to love this guy.” So what I’d really like to say to the fans in South Florida is “You’re really going to love these guys.”

Question: For Brian Campbell, I think you were the first guy to sign on and say, “Okay I want to be a part of this.” I think the fans have been waiting to hear your thinking.

Campbell: I planned on playing in Chicago for a long time. I enjoyed my time there. It was a great place to play. I just felt there was new opportunities. It was a big decision to make. But knowing that Dale was here, what he says is the truth, he’s not just giving you a line, and I know that from our time in Chicago together. He asked me to come down here and give this a shot and make this a championship team, one that has success every year. With what they’ve done over the last few weeks, I couldn’t be happier. You look at the lineup we’re going to produce this year. I don’t think we’re going to give any team a break with the depth that we have. I think that was the biggest thing - my relationship with Dale – he was able to give me a Stanley Cup and a ring. And now we’re going to try to get one here in South Florida.

Question: Thoughts on coming back to Florida.

Jovanovski: It’s always nice. We had the opportunity to tour the practice facility, which wasn’t there when I played here. Seeing the staff that was there when I was there, making me welcome. Just walking into this building and seeing familiar faces. It’s always a place where I’ve consider home; I always come back here in the offseason. You get the odd fan here and there reminiscing about when I played here. It was good to come back

Question: It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the excitement here for the Panthers. How does it feel to be this summer’s Pat Riley.

Tallon: I don’t have his face and clothes. It’s an honor – I’ve admired him for many years. He’s a champion and that’s what we want to be. We’ve got support from Cliff and his partners. That’s why these players came here. They see that we’re committed and we want to win and they want to have fun doing it. One thing I really like about these players, like Mike said, “you’re going to love these guys”, strictly platonic obviously (laughs) the fact is that we have personality up her. We go down the line here and they all have personality and it’s going to be a fun group to be with. It’s an honor to be mentioned in Pat Riley’s same sense, but you know we’re here to win and if we can win as often as he’s won, that’d be great.

Question: For Scottie. Reading your Twitter feeds and talking to you on Friday, how does it feel to see this all come together?

Upshall: It’s a privilege to be here today and be part of this new group of guys that has been welcomed so greatly to this south Florida area in these last couple days…For me it was a great opportunity to come down here. I’ve played for Mike Santos in Nashville before and it didn’t take much when he called me on the morning of July 1st and said he wanted me to be part of something special here in south Florida. The movement this team was taking in the right direction to bring back winning ways in this organization is definitely comfortable. I think we won on July 1st and it’s going to continue right to the start of the season. We’re excited to play; I hope you guys are all excited to watch us because it’s a great feeling up here and we’re looking forward to the start of October.

Question: You must be excited to get started again, after last season being shut down with the blood clot issue?

Fleischmann: Like I said I would like to start the camp next week, but that’s not going to happen. I’m working out. I’m feeling really great. I’m looking forward to next season. Like I said we are excited and we’re looking to have fun.

Question: Mr. Theodore, you’re coming here to south Florida to take over the net that Vokoun gave up. Can you tell us a little bit about what attracted you to south Florida?

Theodore: Everybody’s been saying  - I saw that the direction the team was taking was a big step forward and I really believe that with the signings and where the team was with a place on when to play, it’s a place I think I’m going to have a chance to play. It’s just up to me to live up to the way I expect myself to play. It’s always fun to be a part of something new and with so many new players, it’s definitely something new .We’re all looking forward to gelling together and having fun and winning.

Question: With your old club making the moves they did, did you sense something might happen and did you have any idea that this was a team that would be interested in you?

Versteeg: Given myself and my track record I think you should expect anything can happen (laughs) but with Dale here, I knew if I was going to go anywhere, it was probably here. He’s been a guy that’s masterminded a Stanley Cup victory in Chicago. He’s a guy who brought me in when I was 20 years old. He’s someone I believe in and I couldn’t have been happier to come anywhere than here. Especially with guys like Soup who I’ve played with before and Kopy, who I played against since I was 16 in the WHL. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we’re all looking forward to it.

Question: Ed, how close were you to returning here a few years ago?

Jovanovski: Not quite. When I had the opportunity to sign as an unrestricted free agent five years ago, there was opportunity. It was close, but with spending lots of time here in the offseason its one of those opportunities where, you know, stuff elsewhere came up. At the time Phoenix had a real veteran line up and I thought it was a team that could make some noise, but we all knew this would be home and a place we could come back to. I went to the finals here and hopefully we can finish it off this go-around.

Question: For Matt Bradley, a play that was played a lot last year was you taking on Steve Downie, sticking up for then-teammate Alexander Ovechkin. Talk about the idea of sticking up for the stars on your team and playing that kind of role?

Bradley: I’m a team guy. Any opportunity I have to stick up for teammates, I take that. There are plenty of great players up here and I’m sure they can all take care of themselves but I’m excited to come to Florida and add a little physical presence.

Question: For Tomas – you were the second guy to come in- Panthers traded for you last week before the free agency-  what attracted you to come here and just your thoughts on everything that’s transpired since?

Kopecky: I knew right after the season it didn’t look like it was going to work out in Chicago and when I talked to my agent I told him “I want to win again”. I knew Dale was the kind of guy, pretty stubborn, that would do anything to win. You can see what he did in Chicago and it made sense for me. I wanted to come down here. I talked to Soupy, he got traded, and I realized this was a great opportunity for me. This is a great challenge for us. I don’t think this has ever happened in the NHL, this many guys getting traded or signed. This is rebuilding a new team and I want to be part of it and obviously everybody up here wants to win. There’s a great challenge ahead of us and I’m looking forward to it.

Question: For Kris Versteeg, Dale brought you into Chicago in a similar situation as this. He was remaking the entire team. Can you talk about any similarities between that situation and this situation and how far the Panthers need to go to get to the playoffs right away?

Versteeg: Every year you come you want to be in the playoffs. Dale started from the ground up in Chicago and you’ve seen that in the draft with guys like Toews, Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook. You see it starting here with Huberdeau, Gudbranson and then he brings in free agents and builds around those guys too. It was pretty crazy when I was 21 and we’re with Dale in the room in Chicago and his team’s in last place the year prior and he makes a speech and tells us that we’re going to walk the Stanley Cup down Michigan Ave. and I thought “this guy is nuts” (laughs). Three years later that dream came true for the whole organization so I’m a firm believer in him and the organization.

Tallon: I fell off the wagon because of him. Sixteen years without a drink and he forced me to drink out of the Cup. Jack Daniels. It was pretty bad. (Laughs) We’ll do it again.

Question: Nolan, what can you say about some of these guys that you’ve played against and what kind of talent we can expect from these guys?

Yonkman: I think it’s a very exciting group. We’ve got great depth and a little bit of flash too. Playing against these guys as a guy who’s been a key role player and up and down my whole career and I definitely respect these guys. It’s very exciting and you guys will see this in south Florida here.

Question: For Matt Bradley, you’ve been in Washington for quite a while and you’ve established yourself as a fan favorite there. How do you look forward to winning over the fan base here and how important is that element of fun that you bring to the team as far as the winning formula?

Bradley: I talked to Dale and he said the main thing here for us is fun. Obviously it’s business, but when you’re doing something you love like playing hockey, it should be fun. I like to joke around in the dressing room and do that. I do a lot of bleeding so these red shirts are perfect for me (laughs) so hopefully they won’t have to wash them too much. When I’m on the ice I just try to work hard and if the fans enjoy it, that’s great, but a lot of other guys at this table they’ll enjoy watching a lot more.

Question: Dale, when you have a team that’s divided nearly in half between new players and former players, how do you begin to gel as a team?

Tallon:  Well the good thing is their abilities, first of all, and they care for each other. You can see that right away. We went to dinner last night and you can see there’s a compassion for each other already. I think with a new coaching staff too, Kevin, Craig and Gord and Rob Tallas as well, the fact is that in training camp we only go out of state one day. We’ve got a lot of time in this year’s training camp, we’re not all over the world travelling to play games. We’ll be in Florida the whole time so that’ll give us the opportunity for this team to get together quickly and we’ll cut down quickly too. We’ll have a lot of time as a unit to get to know each other too. It takes a little time for a team to gel, but once that happens, it’ll be a lot of fun. You have to be patient – it’s not going to happen overnight and it will be an adjustment for all of them. Plus the core that we have already. I think with the new coaching staff it will happen and the fact that we’re here all training camp will be a bonus for us.

Question: For Tomas Fleischmann, talk about what you’ve been through- it’s not the normal thing that a player goes through with injuries- how frightening has it been and how confident are you that those problems are behind you?

Fleischmann: It’s a different injury, but injuries are a part of hockey. I just have to live with it and figure out how to play with injury. Now I’m just ready to play hockey again.

Question: For Ed, fifteen years ago you were a member of that Stanley Cup finals team, you were a young guy on the team. Now, do you feel that the situation is reversed? You’re one of the older guys maybe helping out some of these younger guys like you were helped back then?

Jovanovski: "I think so. I was telling Dale yesterday my first roommate was Gord Murphy (laughs), great roommate, used to do my tie for me all the time before I’d head out to the game. I think now, with the young kids that are coming, I can be one of those guys that they can look to ask questions, figuring their way around. I’ve always been a guy to look for help from the older guys and get their advice so I’ll be open to listening to anyone who has any issues. I think collectively by committee each guy is going to have that accountability to each other, everybody pulling the same way. I’m definitely looking to take on that role as the best leader I can be."
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