The last file today is with the coach. He spoke for about 20 minutes, touching on a number of topics — even violating his own edict that he wouldn’t discuss individual players.
Here it is…
• On future expectations for Chris Kreider: “He’s going to go through the process. Who knows what happens next year with him? You guys have him playing 22 minutes on the first line I would think with some of the articles you’ll write before next year. I can predict that.
“I don’t really know him that well, but one thing I do know is that he has a pretty good head on his shoulders. I watched him how he deal with you guys through it all, through all the scrutiny of the city, some of the good things he did. He’s going to understand what the process is all about. We’ll see where it goes.”
• On Brad Richards’ adjustment to New York: “As a 31-year-old Conn Smythe winner, and all the stuff that he’s done, this was a different year for him in understanding all the things that come with it. I think he’s going to be better as he starts again next year. It’s easy to say a veteran guy coming in will be able to handle it, but it’s a different animal. He went through a process himself. At that age, at 31, he went through a process coming here.”
• On the production of the team’s top offensive weapons, particularly vs. the Devils: “No. I think they tried. I think you need to give Jersey a little credit also in the way they played. There’s no — and I’ve said it many times — your best players need to be your best, and our best weren’t our best enough times.”
• On Michael Sauer’s future after his concussion: “It’s a huge question mark. I just saw Michael today for the first time in months. I don’t have a lot of updates, but he’s certainly not where he needs to be to start working out.”
• On if the club can count on Sauer next season: “No. Nope. I’ll be honest with you. No. I can’t.”
• On infusing more youth into the team: “I’m not calling spots. I’m not going to call positions. But we’re going to give some of the youth an opportunity.”
He mentioned having expectation of contributions early last year from Carl Hagelin and Christian Thomas. Obviously, Hagelin contributed, Thomas didn’t.
“I think that’s so important. We need to keep on back-filling there, as far as adding youth. It’s not going to be given. They’re going to have to earn their spots. We’ll see how it all plays out.”
“I think it’s a young man’s game. I do. I think we have some guys that we’re certainly going to give an opportunity to as we start next year. They’ll sink or swim themselves.”
• On if he would suggest Mike Sullivan stay if he is offered a head coaching job: “Absolutely not. Do we want to lose Sully? He’s a huge part of this organization. He’s a huge part of some of these kids’ development. But if you’re asking me, he should be a head coach in this league. It’s amazing how he’s been looked by. He should be a head coach in this league.”
• On the value of impending free agent Brandon Prust: “I’ll tell you that we value him. He’s a huge part of our team. That’s all I can say. I love the guy. The intangibles he brings. I think he does a lot. I think he’s had an up and down year. He was getting a lot of minutes. Then he got some minutes. It was an inconsistent year. But as far as his intangibles and what he brings to the locker room, he’s a huge piece to our puzzle.”
• On the challenging season of Brandon Dubinsky: “It was a tough year for Dubie. I’m not sure if it was the expectations that are brought upon you when you sign a contract. I think with Dubie, in my mind, before this year started, there was more than Dubie than the way he was playing. And he obviously played better the prior year than this year. So my expectations with Dubie are to not only get back to where he was, but also improve. And that’s not based on this year.”
• On bringing new pieces in that might not fit the system: “Yeah, you’re always thinking about that, but you have to be really careful about ruling people out, too. Sometimes, when you think it’s a really good piece, and he may not exactly fit in all the little things you do, you can teach him those things along the way if he really brings you something else. You don’t want to box yourself in here.”
“Listen. We have to work extremely hard to score goals. Along the way, if there’s something that can help there, you find a way to teach your concept, but allow to bring some talent in to allow that to work for you. You can’t get stubborn here, either. We’re not going to lose our identity. I think there’s enough inner-pressure in our room.”