Will have player quotes in a bit. For now, you should know that Sean Avery’s injury at the end of Game 7 was just a charley horse. Blair Betts rode a stationary bike today, which is a good sign for a concussion victim. He had some things to say about the hit that caused it and the broken orbital bone.
Tortorella on how much of his style did we see down the stretch.
“I’d like our team to be — and I thought we showed signs of it in Game 7 as far as playing beneath the hashmarks, in behind the net, I thought we did a lot better job in the neutral zone. The style is, it’s having the puck. I just think we need the puck more. You need to take some chances, because I think we have a good enough goaltender that’s going to handle some of the breakdowns. When I first came here we pinched, in the neutral zone especially, and I backed off because I thought we were giving up (too much), I thought our reads weren’t there, I was concerned about the quickness because it’s a lot more difficult to do without the red line … But I still think that’s somethng I want to revisit when we go to camp. It was such a sprint, a two-month sprint: just how much can you give them? So we changed a little bit int he neutral zone and we definitely changed in Game 7, so I want to proceed a little bit more once you have that month (of camp) to really bring in a full team concept.”
How do you get a veteran with a big contract to buy in?
“You’ve got to coach them. It’s such a broad question that it’s tough to answer. But coaches don’t hate their players, and what I’ve learned along the way here is you’re not going to have a perfect team. And practically half your team, as far as a coach, you’re going to be pissed off about. … You need to coach them. We’re going to play under a team concept, one that I think is best fit for what we are, when we start camp and people are going to buy into it. That’s our job, to teach them.”
“Is there conflict along the way? I’ve always said that conflict is not a bad thing. Conflict, there must be some honesty coming out. Those are the things you work through as a coach and a player when you try to teach a veteran guy.”
On the feathers he’s ruffled internally and externally:
“I’m not trying to be an ass. I’m not going to do my job to keep it and make everybody happy. If I try to make everybody happy, I’m not doing my job correctly. I’ve never gone into a situation to try to keep my job. I’m going to do my job the best I can. And will it ruffle some feathers along the way? Yes, it will. And it’s going to continue to do that. But as long as we can do it as men and talk it out, I think relationships can grow strong that way.”
“It’s really not my business how you feel about me. I want to respect you and I want to do the best I can and give the information that I can, but I also have to worry about what is best for the hockey team.”
On his players in general (I forgot the exact question):
“We’ve got some good guys here. For some guys the standard is going to have to be raised here. That’s my job, to raise the standard, and accountability is going to be a huge thing, holding people accountable. I think as we’ve gone through, they’ve begun to understand me and I’ve begun to understand them. Some of them may not like it, and may not like me. I struggle with some of the effort with some guys, and that’s going to be addressed today as we have our exit meetings. Again, it’s not a business where you want everybody to love you. It just can’t be done that way. … but as long as there’s a mutual respect, and I’m trying to do it respectfully.”
I asked him if the team needs to be in better condition in order to play his style:
“Yes. That starts right now when I meet the first player and describe our camp. Our camp is very heavily-laden, those first five or six days — because we have early exhibition games and we may stink in those — there’s two days of testing on ice and it’s pretty heavy on conditioning the first five or six days. So that’s something an athlete can control. We put the heavy testing in those first two days because we’re not like football where we can bring them in in the summer and test them. So we need to hang it over their heads, because I don’t think any athlete wants to be embarrassed with the testing that we do, and so we want them to do their work in the summer — not to use camp to get in shape, to be in shape when you come to camp. It’s something you can control, and the way we want to play, the game comes easier to them when you’re in the top shape you can be.
“I’ll put it to you this way. I worry that some guys are tired now and we played one round. We played one round. That’s unacceptable. It’s unacceptable. Some guys are tired. And you’re going to be tired, I know that. But you’ve got to be able to get it back every day if we want to do the things we want to do during the playoffs. So that’s what worries me the most, to see guys who are tired after playing 12-13 days and hardly practicing. That worries me.”
On the playoff series:
“I’m not sure how you’ll take it, but the best team won this series. They were a better team than us. That’s not running down our team. I’m just being honest with you. Do you find ways to upset teams? Yeah. When you’re an underdog there are always upsets. We had our opportunity. I felt Hank gave us the opportunity the way he played early in the series. And I will say, I felt Hank was part of the reason we didn’t, too. So he was great, but also struggled at key times, too. I’m not running him down. But I felt at 3-1 we needed to step up offensively and we didn’t and that’s my responsibility, getting it out of them, and it’s the players’ responsibility for not getting it done. Some of them weren’t able to, some of them couldn’t, some of them who I thought had the ability just didn’t.”