We caught up with Belleville Senators head coach Kurt Kleinendorst before hops behind the bench this weekend for the team's annual Rookie Tournament to talk coaching strategy, his familiarity with this group of prospects and more.
On the opportunity to see players who may see time playing in Belleville:
I think this is a good crop. I think it's one of our better crop of young players that we've had in a while. You'll generally get people in my position saying that. I think we're getting deeper. Getting deeper in net, deeper on the blue line and we've got some good young forwards. I like where we're at.
On his coaching approach for a short tournament:
We want the kids to shine. At today's practice, we wanted to find the line where the kids can get back into the swing of things. But it's really about the kids. We're introducing a few systems to them. Its real simple things that we know they can grasp because if we get them overthinking they lock up and if they lock up it's not fair to them. So the one thing were trying to stay away from is locking them up.
On having familiar faces playing in the tournament:
A big thing about coaching is getting to know your players. Like I said, I'm not going to overload them with systems but we do need structure. We need to make sure that in certain situations were all on the same page. There has been a couple tweaks from Guy's systems but not many changes so the guys are comfortable with it and it should help us with it.
On coming into the season knowing the system already:
I think it's a big advantage for sure. It's not like Guy's system is different but there are some unique areas of it. There are some things that in my 28-29 years of coaching that I have never been exposed to before and it's awesome. It's awesome as a coach, it's awesome as a player and I'm a believer in it now. I've had it for a year now and I can fully say that I'm a believer.
On players getting called up and having the AHL team use the same system as the NHL team:
There are still some organizations that don't do it that way. It makes sense to have them on the same page. For example, Colin White gets a call saying you're playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He already knows that if it's a fore-check situation, he knows how our fore-check works. He knows exactly what to do as an F1, F2, or 3rd guy in. He knows exactly what the Ottawa Senators structure is. He knows what his role will be in all situations. I think that's good.
On the excitement of Belleville:
I like our group to this point. The Senators have to stay healthy because as an organization, we're still working on our depth. I think we've improved. I think we have some really good younger players on the way. If Ottawa can stay healthy, I think we're going to have a much better year. I like our goaltending this year, I like our defensemen and what potentially could be in Belleville. Up front we have some forwards that are more than capable. If you look at our roster, we have improved our goaltending, our defense and we've made some nice additions up front as well. So if Ottawa can stay healthy, I think that we will be fine.
The Sens Rookies travel to Toronto today as they get set to take on the Montreal Canadiens Rookies on Saturday (Sept. 9th) at 7 p.m. and the Toronto Maple Leafs Rookies on Sunday (Sept. 10th) at 4 p.m. Both games take place at the Ricoh Coliseum.
For more details on Sens Rookie Camp and this weekend's tournament, click here.