With Sens training camp underway at Canadian Tire Centre, Paul MacLean addressed the media for the first time since his players returned to Ottawa ahead of the 2013-14 season.
As expected, much of the talk for Coach MacLean surrounded the Sens' vacant captaincy, which is a post he has yet to appoint. He is clearly approaching a decision after many days and weeks of deliberation but, as of Wednesday, nobody had been appointed yet.
Here's what coach had to say during today's lengthy conference...
On the opening of camp:
Good day today, everyone is healthy and raring to go. I think a couple of guys came out with some knicks and knacks from the rookie tournament, but I think everyone is supposed to be on the ice tomorrow and looking forward to getting there.
On a healthy lineup:
We're looking forward to it to see 'How good are we?' We did a lot of growing as a team last year with the injuries and what we went through, but now we have everybody back that was injured last year. Now we can find out. We might think we're good but now we have an opportunity to prove it and see if we are.
On if Erik Karlsson will be the same player he was:
Our expectation is that he'll continue to get better. That's the expectation — he's still a young player in the league — or be a consistent player. That's the toughest thing is to be consistent in this league and we expect that he's going to work at that. If he's a consistent player we're going to be pretty happy with that player.
On if Karlsson is in the running for captaincy:
The answer to that would be he was but he's not now. At the time when I started to consider what would be, he was certainly in the group of players we would give consideration to. At this point we feel it's a little too early for that.
On if he has made a decision:
I haven't. That's when I make it. I think naming a captain is something you don't take lightly and you don't just rush into doing it. You take the time that you need to make sure you're doing the right thing. I think it's important to take the time to do that and that's what we're going to do.
On if he's close to a decision:
What's close? I don't know. At this point in time we're not making the decision today.
On if they will have a captain by the start of the season:
We would like one, yeah.
On the candidates:
We have a leadership group that we're looking at. I usually like to use a number of five people. We have Craig Anderson, Jason Spezza, Chris Phillips, Chris Neil and Marc Methot would be that group of five people we continue to talk to on an ongoing basis. That part of it is in place, we have those people here, it's just a matter of taking enough time to make sure we do the right thing.
On the significance of the letter:
It does (matter) to me. That's all that matters. I think it's an important decision that we have to make and, to answer the question, it's not just a token thing for me. I think it's an important representation for the team and there's a lot of responsibility that goes with that... I want to do it at the right time and make the right decision and take the time to do it properly. I don't think you just go about it haphazardly. We're not trying to hold anything off or stall anything, I just want to make sure that I've got to have it clear in my mind and have more talks with Bryan (Murray) that we're doing the right thing. It's not that we have bad candidates or we have bad people that we want to do it with, it's just we want to make the right decision.
On what he's looking for:
We're looking for someone who's going to be a representative of the team and what the team is. We've had an outstanding representative of the Ottawa Senators for the last 17 years and that person isn't here anymore, but that's what we're looking to do. No, we can't represent one person with another, but the next guy that's going to be there is going to be a representative of the Ottawa Senators and we want to make sure that's the right person.
On if he has concerns over Spezza's health:
At this time, no. Everyone's got a clean bill of health, and everyone's ready to go. We don't anticipate any of those issues.
On a Ryan/Michalek/Spezza line:
I'm excited to see if that's going to work like everyone else is, getting them on the ice tomorrow and seeing if there's any chemistry there. We certainly believe that will make us a team that has a line that they would have to contend with.
On Jared Cowen's absence:
We've played a lot of games without Jared, unfortunately, and if we have to play some more we will. As I said yesterday, this is the unfortunate business of the game. It's not under my job description. If you're here we use you. If you're not, we just keep going... I'm like everybody else. I'll wait and see when he gets done and when I see him I see him. I'm not going to wait every day and see if he's in there or not. I'm not going to check for him every day.
On Clarke MacArthur:
Right now we have Clarke — we're going to see if he can get some chemistry with Kyle Turris in that group — and then I forget who we have on the line, if it's Stone or Conacher or Hoffman. All these guys have an opportunity possibly to play in that other spot. We think that Clarke and, along with Bobby Ryan, give us a kind of player we're missing. They're still young players in the league, but they've played 300 games in the league, almost 400 games. We have a lot of guys with potential that are just coming up to 200 games or just under 200 games. They're established players in the league and they give us someone else that we can show our players, 'This is what it is to be a National Hockey League player.'
On Mika Zibanejad's postioning:
Right now I think Mika is a centre and we're going to play him at centre at this point in time. If we feel that we need to put him on the wing we will, but at this point he's a centre.
On Zack Smith:
He's a centre right now. Right now they're both centres.
On new acquisitions:
I guess the new NHL there seems to be a lot of change every year and every team seems to change guys once in a while, but you don't just change guys to change. I think this change that we made has been good for our team. I've mentioned the fact that they've played close to 400 games and they're established players in the league, I think that helps our team and puts us in a better stead starting out.
On if a player wanted the captaincy:
What would my mindset be? Convince me, if you're not already the guy... Nobody has campaigned to me or offered me any kind of incentive to make up my mind.
On who will make the decision:
It's our decision but ultimately it will be mine. Bryan and I will make the decision, but at the end of the day it will be my decision with lots of talk with Bryan and my coaching staff and the people of Ottawa and with all of you people. A lot of people had input. I've had lots of people already help me and I appreciate all the help I can get. I try to gather as much information as I can before I make decisions and I've had a lot of help with this one.
On if he has enough information to make the decision:
We believe we do, but we haven't made the decision yet. I have to be clear in my mind that that's the direction we want to go in.
On if they will rotate the A's:
I think what we would do is have three representatives and keep it that way.
On if he would have multiple captains:
I hadn't thought of that. Maybe I'll change my mind.
On if Craig Anderson could be captain:
I think they've tried that once in this league and it didn't work very good. No, we wouldn't do that.
You can see Coach MacLean's press conference here below on Sens TV:
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