First the news. Marian Gaborik is not on the ice. He attended the funeral service for his friend Pavol Demitra yesterday. Wade Redden is not here; he was assigned to attend Connecticut’s training camp right from the start. And Michael Sauer did not skate today with a tweaked knee.
UPDATE: Just spoke with John Tortorella. I missed earlier that Artem Anisimov didn’t skate. He also has a knee issue and is going for an MRI today. Tortorella said that Sauer’s injury is tendinitis in the knee and also groin-related, but that he doesn’t believe it’s serious. Tortorella expects Gaborik back today and promised that he will get his full testing done … in other words, no free pass.
Tortorella expects to bring 30-35 guys to Europe for the exhibition games. I hope to have more later on, including a Torts transcript, but am having some car and laptop battery woes at the moment.
Here are some early quotes. Will have more later as time (and my battery) permits.
“I came to the conclusion that coming in with the same mentality as last year is the best way to go about it. I think that’s something that a lot of guys do.
“I definitely feel more comfortable. That test doesn’t get more comfortable. But I’m definitely more comfortable with the atmosphere, everything that goes on here and how everything’s run. But it doesn’t make it any easier.”
“I’m just going to come in with the same mindset as last year. I want to come out and compete hard. I want to earn a job on this team.
“We have a good roster. You lool at the guys that are here. We have really good depth and everyone’s going to be competing for a spot. The organization can go so many different ways with the number of guys we have here. So I’m competing for a spot, and so is everyone else?”
Center or wing:
“That’s a good question. I’m just here to compete for a job, I guess. I was comfortable on the wing last year and I know if that’s where I’ve got to be, I can end up there. Obviously I’ll start whereever they start me, and that’s where I’ll play.”
“Well, I made it (through the testing). It feels good to have it over with. I’ve heard things about it far before I signed a contract with New York. I played with guys who’ve experienced it and it lived up to expectations. It was difficult,”
“It’s a way that, you know guys are going to be coming in and they’re going to be accountable, what they do with themselves in the summer, and it’s a great way to start the year with everybody in shape. And I think this is a good indicator that guys have been training hard.”
“We’re excited to get going. We’re extited to kind of just get past this testing thing and get going as a hockey team. We’ve got a lot of things coming up that can really bring us together with our trip overseas and beginning the season on the road out West, too. A lot of (the buzz) we try to keep on the outside and just play hockey and be there for one another.”
“You just need to not get caught up in it. If you start the season real well and you’re sitting pretty after 10-15 games, there’s a lot of bad things that can happen after that because you get a little complacency. That’s something that’s been addressed as far as a lot of distractions that could be, and we need to make sure we’re on the same page and not let that get in the way.”
“I think it’s good. I think the league has shown quite a bit of responsibility, protecting the players. Being a player, it’s something you want. You want them to look at all the angles and I feel like they’re doing that.”
On wearing No. 71: “I heard there was a guy wearing 17 and I had to flip it.”
(any easier?) “No, not really. It’s a hard test no matter how much you prepare for it, or how good a shape you’re in. It’s a tough test. You know coming in what to expect, I guess, in your second or third year, but the test doesn’t get easier.”
Is it the Captain’s responsibility to not be doubled over?
“No, I don’t feel any more pressure. I go out there and try to put up the best times I can and try to do the best I can … and I think I was out there doubled over and panting, so … but I think everyone is.”
On Derek Boogaard: “Some guys have talked about it. Obviously it’s a big hole. To lose a teammate, there’s no other feeling like it. I think we all have each other’s backs and support each other and throughout the summer we’ve talked to each other quite a bit about it. We’re always going to remember him. He’s not forgotten at all.”
On the difficult early schedule:
“It’s going to be tough. It’s an obstacle that we’re prepared for and we have to overcome. We’ve talked about it a little bit. It’s a distraction only if we let it be, and everybody on the team knows that. It’s just a couple more road games. That’s all it is.”
The testing: “It gets harder, I think. I felt way better last year because I didn’t know what to expect. Sometimes your nerves get the best of you out there.”
On the schedule: “We have a lot of things that could bring a team down, but I think it’s going to bring us closer together and I think it’s going to be good for us. Torts talked to us about it today — not having any excuses.”
On Callahan’s captaincy: “That’s great. Cally’s the heart and soul of our team and he’s our leader. The ‘C’ is on the right shirt.”
He talked quite a bit about the league taking a hard look at fighting after the summer deaths of tough guys Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak.
“You might be talking to the wrong guy. I’m pro-fighter. So, I believe it should be in our game. I don’t think anything should be changed. That’s what makes our game unique, is that we can have the ability to police our own game. Obviously the league steps in if something gets out of hand, if there’s a dirty hit. But if somebody’s going after Gabby or Hank or Richie, that’s my job to get in there and make sure they don’t do that because those are our important players.
“There’s 20,000 people on their feet every time there’s a fight. It’sa tough job, but it’s a job I chose and I love doing it and I love sticking up for my teammates, and I love knowing that my teammates know that I’ll be there for them.”
“There’s always a middle ground. Like I said, it is a tough job. I definitely get a little nervous if I know I’m going to be fighting. Sometimes you might lose a little sleep. But, like I said, that’s my job. I chose it and I embrace it and I like that rush. At the same time, the biggest sport in the world right now is UFC and nobody’s really stopping that.”
“It definitely opened (my eyes) … I’m not taking anything away from any of the tragedies that happened this summer. It was awful and I’m not taking anything away from that. I haven’t talked to many other tough guys around the league. It was definitely an eye-opener, but I don’t think it’s just the fighting that’s the cause. I know, for some of us, it’s almost a stress relief, the fighting. Everybody’s different.”
“(Boogaard) was a big presence. He was a big boy. He was well-liked in our dressing room and we all miss him. We’ve been talking about him. I definitely like him on my team. He’s a great teammate and we’re going to miss him.”
On league’s reaction: “I guess it’s natural with what’s happened. It has been an awful summer. But it’s definitely an eye-opener. I’ve obviously thought about it a lot and I don’t think we should change the game at all.”
“I’ll honor Derek every game. I’ve always thinking of Derek. He was my roommate for the first half of the season before he got hurt, and a good friend of mine. We’re going to miss him. I’m going to miss him especially. I hope he’s out there with me every game.”