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) How did it feel when you became captain for the Sabres?
Toni Lydman: It was an honor, and something that a few years back, I never thought would happen. It was a surprise, and like I said, a huge honor. What qualities do you bring to being captain that make you different than others?
TL: Well, I'm not the most vocal guy in the room, especially before the games. [Laughs]
But hopefully, the idea would be that I lead by example on the ice. Why do you think the Sabres are having trouble playing consistent hockey?
TL: That's not as easy to answer.
There are things that we need to improve on and I think we have. But there is still a lot more room for improvement.
There are areas of the game that we do well - like playing defense right now and the last couple of games - and obviously we're creating a lot of chances too. We just can't seem to put the puck in the net.
More important is that we're playing better hockey, acting like five-man units out there. And we're playing defense as a team now. That's the first step.
If we continue to create chances like we did in Boston, eventually, we're going to win more games than we lose because we were all over them. It felt like we dominated the majority of the game. Do you think we could benefit from a new offensive veteran? Peter Forsberg maybe?
TL: He's a great player when he's healthy. He's been one of the best in the league when he was with Colorado. Even in Philly he was good, before the health problems really started. I think any team would like to have an athlete like that, if they are healthy. What's the key to scoring a goal?
TL: You're asking the wrong guy. [Laughs]
I would have a lot more if I knew. Did it bother you to have to wear the full cage mask?
TL: I didn't like it at all. It's been about 15 years since I wore one, and I just couldn't get used to it. Every time you put it on, every time you go out there at the beginning of the periods, it takes a lot of getting used to. It's hard to explain.
Growing up, I played with a cage and didn't have any problems. But now, having played with a visor for so long with no metal bars around my face, it feels weird. I'm happy to get rid of it. Where is your favorite place to travel; during the season and off season?
TL: I don't know... That's a tough one...
Maybe, Phoenix. We don't get to go there a lot and the weather is nice. Florida is good too.
In the off-season I just go back to Finland. That's about it. If you weren't playing hockey as your career what would you be doing?
TL: Who knows? [Laughs]
I really didn't have a great plan when, fortunately, hockey started going well for me. I was in high school doing ok, but I really hadn't decided what I was going to do after graduation. There was nothing that I was really that interested in and just knew since I was a kid that I was going to be doing.
Nothing like, "this is my thing."
Hockey was even just a fun hobby. I starting being pretty good at it, so I started playing a lot more. All of a sudden, I had to be serious about it.
It's kind of hard to explain. What has been your biggest accomplishment in Buffalo?
TL: I hope its yet to come. What's the biggest difference between living in Finland and the United States?
TL: People in the United States are maybe a little friendlier when you first meet them or to strangers. I'm talking about customer service employees or just random people you meet.
Like when you're in the elevator, people here always say something. Back home, we don't do that. You go into an elevator full of people you don't know, you can be sure that nobody is going to say anything.
Unless something happens.
There might be one guy that is joking around and the others will be a little bit annoyed. They'd be like, "shut up." [Laughs]
It's just something that we don't have in our culture: the little small talk with strangers. Why do you wear number 5?
TL: They told me not to take 32 when I was traded here. [Laughs]
It was just one of the available numbers. (Note: Rob Ray was the last player to wear 32 prior to Lydman's acquisition.) What will Eric Lindros' legacy be?
TL: I thought he was a great player. He's got decent stats. Before all the injury problems, he was a dominate force. He led Philly to the finals against Detroit and was scoring pretty consistently before all the problems started.
It was a good career and I thought he was a really good player.