With his team off to a somewhat
Q: On Daniel Alfredsson's health:
- He is feeling a lot better actually. I just had him in here about an hour ago and talked to him briefly. He feels actually 'real good' he said. It's cleared up in the last couple of days. He skated. He did the baseline test today. We'll see how soon he can come back but at least we have a light at the end of the tunnel with Daniel and hopefully it won't be too far down the road.
Q: Did he pass his baseline today?
- He didn't know that. I think they had to do an evaluation and then talk to our doctors. They wouldn't notify him probably until tomorrow. He thought he was low before and that he'd be a lot higher now.
Q: Have you been surprised at how well Alfie's played since the offseason surgery?
- I'm never surprised with anything that Alfie does. After he had the surgery and he was around the office area for a few weeks, he told me that he was feeling better at that time. Before camp, I had a feeling that he was going to be what Daniel Alfredsson is. If he didn't have pain that he would play and play. I can't say that I'm surprised but I am pleased obviously that he can play at a good level again... And I'm pleased for him because I'm sure it's not much fun playing when you're hurt or sore.
Q: How do you like the way that Milan Michalek is playing?
- I think the whole key was the injury bug. He's so fast and so strong in his game as far as being involved in the corners and certainly in front of the net - the traffic areas. He got hurt a couple of times, a couple times with the knee and I think it's because the level of effort that he puts into the game. When he's healthy, we felt all along that he's a terrific player and I think he's showing everybody now that he is. Touch wood, but I hope that we can keep him at a good level all year health-wise. If we do that, we know we have a terrific hockey player and he'll have a big impact on what we do developing young players as well.
Q: Jason Spezza just seems very comfortable playing with his big winners. Talk about them being a good fit.
- Well Jason's the kind of guy who can find players with the puck. Having speed on his wings and obviously Colin maybe more than Milan even as far as corner play and getting back into his own zone and playing a defensive responsible role have really helped Jason a lot. When he gets going and gets speed on the outside, he looks good and can make people look good as well.
Q: How serious is Greening's injury?
- Yeah, he's back practicing in full today. He got run hard. I think it was Gaustad. He was tied up with another player and he got run real hard. He had a little bit of a hip problem. I think he got hit there and it was a bit sore yesterday. Paul said that he was tired but I don't think he was too tired. He was a bit sore and we got him off the ice and he feels a lot better today.
Q: What do you think of Kaspars Daugavins?
- Well, he's a player that when you see guys with hockey sense, you know that they can contribute. That's what Kaspars has. He has got a great sense of the game. He has taken awhile to make it to the NHL but he has a good frame. He gets up and down the ice fine. He has that knack of finding the guy with the puck. He shoots the puck real well. He's got a real good ability to kill penalties and block shots. In the Calder Cup run last year in Binghamton, he was a real important player for them - in a defensive role as much as an offensive role. We're going to give him a little run here. We think that he's very capable of playing in this league. It seems like when he plays with Zack Smith, it becomes a real good line. They've got Chris Neil there and sometimes they've got Erik Condra there but either winger compliments what they do. I think we may have found a player who can help us.
Q: Have you taken a snapshot of where your team is at right now? Has your mindset changed in terms of helping this team?
- Well, I think what we need is...first of all, we need to be healthy. We lost two real important players: Alfie at one level and Peter Regin at another. Peter had started off after an injury at the end of last year that looked like he had the ability to score goals and skate. He has got good wheels and with Alfie out, it leaves a huge hole on our team. With him coming back fairly soon we hope and then Peter not too far down the road, I think our team is fine. Otherwise, I've been looking and talking about trying to add one more NHL forward. Now whether we are able to do that or not, I'm not sure but it's certainly something to look at. I think our team is going to be competitive. I think Paul's done a real good job at structuring the group as we have and if we can stay in it here over the next week or two then taking a look at something may be necessary.
Q: Does that forward need to be a center?
- No, I don't think so... just an NHL forward. We have a lot of young players playing and I don't want to disturb that but we may have one need: just a forward. I think we have flexibility up front with different people and if we had to move someone around, we could do that.
Q: When Matt Carkner gets healthy, will you have a numbers problem on the back end?
- There's never a numbers problem in all likelihood unless you're below six defencemen. The way the game is today, the defencemen get hit hard too often. We do get injuries there. You need depth there. I've always thought that in the NHL, you need eight or nine defencemen available to play at some point - whether they're playing in the minors or whatever. I think right now, we have ten defencemen that could play games if we needed them to - with a couple of guys being in the minors at this point in time. So to have an eighth guy here isn't the worst thing. We maybe could make an adjustment trading one type of position for another but that's to be seen when we get healthy.
Q: Any thoughts on Nikita Filatov's attitude thus far and development?
- Well, we're going to run him back-and-forth a few times. I know we got an email from a fan who was very concerned that we weren't giving him enough of a chance here. The thing with Filatov is that he's gone through a couple of dreadful years as far as getting opportunities and getting criticized. We felt we'd bring him up... he plays a little more uptight here and he doesn't get as many minutes here as he would in the minors obviously.So getting him back down there, getting him playing, getting him some confidence and to relax and do the things that he's very, very capable of doing. When he gets going again, we'll try and bring him back up and play him in a few games here. We think if we do it right and he works hard at it, we'll wind up with a good hockey player.
Q: Is it a confidence thing with Bobby Butler right now?
I think it is. I think what happened to Bob... I don't know that he expected the team to have to skate quite as much in training camp. He had a groin problem. Maybe he wasn't ready for that level of compete so early in the year. I think he learned from that. I hope he did. Secondly, I think the fact that he was slow getting into the lineup and then of course, the puck not going in. It doesn't go in very easily in the NHL anymore but not going in for him, I think he's battled it a little bit. Knowing Bob, and he is a competitive person, he'll just need a goal or two and then things will start to fall in place for him, we hope. But he's got to do it. He's got to work hard and he's got to work hard in practice and obviously getting on a line where he's going to get regular ice-time where that can happen for him.
Q: Is Stephane Da Costa a wild card for this team's offence?
- He's still a very young player. Certainly at this point in time anyway, he just needs to play games. I think that the defensive part of the game will have to look after itself in the near future but right now, he's one of the guys with the great vision in the league. He reminds me really, and I should probably never say this, but he reminds me of a young Adam Oates - way back when Adam was trying to find his way in the National League as well. Stephane just has to get a little bit more game time and he has to get a little bit stronger obviously. His vision is incredible. His hands are good. I think he has a chance to be a real good player for us in the future.