The way we’ve been able to win right at the end just shows the character of this team and the smarts we have as a group. We realized we didn’t like the direction we were going in after those two tough losses at home (against Colorado and Philadelphia). We were able to turn it around with a lot of hard work. The coaches worked us hard and really made us understand that this is the way we need to play to win. It’s showing now, and what they’re saying is obviously working. We’re all buying in and that’s a big part of it. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the leaders and the young guys on the team. We’re all coming together as a team and that’s a big part of our success right now.
We all said our goodbyes to Mika Zibanejad
the other day and it was a tough thing. He’s a great kid and he did really well when he was here. He’s going to be a real good player and he’s going to be fun to play with for a long time. But I think this was best for Mika in the sense of he just didn’t feel ready himself. One more year away from the NHL never hurts anybody. He’ll still be a young kid coming in next year. Being back in Sweden this season will be really good for him and we’ll be excited to have him back here next year.
I remember my rookie season here, when they sent me down to Binghamton for the first time. It’s a big shock, especially with the way you’re treated up here. It’s not that you’re not treated well down there, but it’s just a different atmosphere, where it’s bus rides instead of planes and packing your own (equipment) bag. You kind of get the royal treatment up here, so it’s kind of a humbling reality check. I really enjoyed my time down there in Binghamton, though. It really taught me about the player I needed to be and I learned a lot about my game. It’s tough, but you’ve got to go down there with a real good attitude and remember that you’re down there to learn and get back up here as quick as you can. I think I did that for the most part and looking back now, I’m really happy that I spent some time down there and learned a little more about myself.
Sure, you’re disappointed at first when you get news like that, but I actually got to drive down there. I was by myself and I got to think about a lot of things for the four or five hours it takes to get there. You think about your game and what you need to do. It was a really good group of guys down there and they really help you. If you go down there with the attitude that you’re going to work on your game and get back up here, anything can happen. Obviously, you’re disappointed at first, but you have to get over that and get ready to work. The AHL is a tough league and you get a wakeup call about that when you get down there. It’s not like the NHL but in some ways, it’s a lot tougher and it’s a real physical league. It really opens your eyes about what you need to work on.