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Paul MacLean on Erik Karlsson, Bobby Ryan and more

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

Senators head coach Paul MacLean spoke with the media after Thursday's practice and pair of announcements. Here's what he had to say about a big day for the franchise...


I'm very excited to be the head coach of the Ottawa Senators today with the naming of Erik Karlsson as the captain and representative of the leadership group with Chris Phillips and Chris Neil. We're excited about the future that they can bring to us along with the signing of Bobby Ryan to a seven-year extension. Again, it really gets the coaching staff and the coach excited about our group and where we're going to go and where these guys are going to lead us to. It's a good day.

On Karlsson being named captain:

We just feel with his maturity, how he has played, what he has gone through and the respect he has, not only from his teammates but around the League, is important. In the world of hockey the level of respect he has is significant and we just feel moving forward with this group and the core of it being young, they needed to be represented with the C.

On the added responsibility having an adverse effect:

I don't think so, we believe that the veterans — Chris Phillips and Chris Neil — that are with him and the other people in that leadership group — Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur — they're all going to help him, he's just a representative of the group. It's not all on his shoulders to do everything. We feel we have him surrounded with a good core of people and together they're going to be the engine that drives this bus and we're excited about it.

On what he looks for from a captain:

You have to have a rapport between the coach and the captain and you have to assimilate a lot of information before you make decisions and you have to make decisions based on what's best for the team and not what's best for an individual. The second hardest part of being the captain is you have to do it right every day. Those are the two most difficult things being a captain for some people and we just feel Erik, with the success he has had in his career and the adversity he has faced in his career and in his life that he's ready for an awful lot of situations and has handled them and come through them well, both the good and the bad. Those are things that prepare you for this opportunity.

On getting rid of the Ryan contract distraction:

It didn't seem to be like it was going to have an opportunity to be a distraction the way Bobby handled it and his staff with Don Meehan and Newport Sports and Bryan and Eugene, it didn't seem to me that it would be a distraction. He was prepared to play the whole season if he had to. I think everything was very amicable so in my judgment I didn't foresee it being an issue at all.

On keeping Ryan on the left side:

He has done it in the past which gives us a lot of confidence he'll be able to do it again and we're trying to find the combinations that are going to give us the best opportunity. Right now we don't mind how that one looks. We'll keep going with it. We can change them too, right?

On Stone with Turris-MacArthur:

Stone has played well with those guys in the past but Bobby has played real well with those guys too so things that we've done in the past and been successful with, we can always go back to. I always believe that if things aren't working out we can always go back to the things we did before that had success and it'll be okay. Right now in training camp we're trying to find something that'll make us better than okay and if it's there we want to give it a chance to grow.

On Phillips not being named captain:

I just felt that with the age of our core group, that being Kyle, Bobby, Erik, Clarke MacArthur and Chris Neil and Chris Phillips that, in that core group with Craig Anderson and the youth of our team that the youth needed to be represented in a top position. The veteran part of it and what has made the Ottawa Senators the Ottawa Senators for the last number of years and the continuity of it is represented in Chris Phillips and Chris Neil remaining alternate captains and not naming someone else alternate captains. We kept the culture that's in place that they had a huge part in creating, they're still a part of it and an important part of it to make sure the direction these other guys get is coming from them. We just felt that the representative and captain of that group needed to be out of that younger group, which, moving forward, is going to be the engine of the team.

On Phillips dealing with the disappointment:

I think Chris — is he disappointed? For sure. He has played over 1,000 games in the League, he has been in the League a long, long time and I think he knows how to get over this kind of stuff.

On a captain being a top player on the team:

That's again going back to the respect Erik has around the League and the type of player he is. Yes, it's an important thing but it's more important to have the right guy be the captain. I feel that Erik is the right guy right now.

On the captain representing the style of play:

For what we're trying to do here, Erik Karlsson is a huge part of it. Offensively, defensively, off the ice, in the community, everything we're trying to do, he's an important representative of that and throughout the League he's a representative of the Ottawa Senators. I think we have to recognize that as well.

On if being captain could make Karlsson a better player:

Time will tell, it has in the past. We can go back and look at an awful lot of teams and see: did they give the C to the guy at the right time or the wrong time? It has made some players and it has ruined some players. We truly believe that it's going to make Erik a better player and it's going to make us a better team.

On the roster plan for Montreal:

We're really close but the bingo balls are going a little bit. Like we said at the start of training camp we'd like these last two games to be our team and I think it's going to end up being as close to our team as we can. I think we have a couple of guys who have bobos that we have to govern properly but also the most important thing is we have guys who are pushing and playing well and probably deserve another opportunity to look at them. That's what's driving it the most is the play of some of those younger guys. We want to give them another opportunity. We've dealt with tomorrow's lineup, it comes out shortly after we're done here but the last game in Montreal, we'll sort that one out.

On the goaltending plan:

They're both going to start. Robin is going to start and play the whole game tomorrow night and Craig is going to go into Montreal and play the whole game there.

On the players pushing for spots:

There's lots of guys pushing. Puempel is pushing, Lazar is pushing, Pageau is pushing, Buddy Robinson is pushing, Colin Greening is pushing. They're all pushing and playing well and we have to try and recognize that. They're making the decisions hard for us to put the lineups together for these last two games and we're trying to make sure the best players get an opportunity to show they're the best players and deserve an opportunity to be here. They're all pushing.

On Ryan committing to the franchise long term:

The business of hockey sometimes gets in the way and that has been the case. This is a case of the business of hockey getting done in a real positive way for our group. That's what we're looking for is positive things to happen to our group. This event today is really exciting to be the head coach and have the opportunity to have these guys around for a long time and continue to push for us to become an elite team and a team that challenges.

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