Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/08/08 at 05:03 PM ET
Yesterday we posted transcripts of interviews with Ryan Malone and Michel Therrien. Today, a few more words out of Pittsburgh, this time from Sidney Crosby and the coach.
Complete transcripts of both Q&A’s are below.
Q. Wonder what your weariness factor is for talking about the Flyers and how mean they might be starting tomorrow night? Whether you’ve grown weary of talking about what the series might be?
SIDNEY CROSBY: No, I mean, you expect it to be physical. But that’s the playoffs. We know that there’s a rivalry, but as far as being afraid of anything, no. I mean, you expect to be physical, and hard nosed hockey, like most playoff series. But I don’t think anything more.
Q. Some have compared your game this playoff to Steve Yzerman as he developed when the Red Wings started to win cups and become more of a complete player. A, do you like that comparison, obviously you might. But do you feel that you’ve become more of that complete hockey player?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I’d like to think so. Still have a lot to learn. But I think, you know, I think with each year you play you try to improve everything, and you realize how important every detail of the game is and what a difference it makes when you’re playing. It might not always show up on the score sheet, but those are little thing that’s help your team win and are important to show and lead by example with.
So, you know, for sure I like to worry about detail things. This playoffs, you know, personally, I’ve had some good games, had some okay ones. But I’ve been pretty happy overall.
Q. Compared Malkin the other day to Peter Forsberg in his prime. I don’t expect you to talk entirely about that. But I think he was talking about his ability to see the ice, his terrific play making ability and the fact he was so strong on the puck. Can you talk about that and what you’ve seen.
SIDNEY CROSBY: I think that’s a good comparison. But I think with Evgeni (Geno), you know, I wouldn’t take anything away from Forsberg because he’s an amazing hockey player. But Geno’s got a shot that can also make him very dangerous, and I think Forsberg was more of a playmaker and scored a lot more in-tight, whereas Geno can make you pay with a Slapshot from the blue line or one time or something like that.
So I’d say that’s a good comparison. Anyone to be compared to Forsberg, I think that’s saying something. But I think even on top of that, Geno brings a pretty dangerous shot.
Q. Can you run through your history playing both with and against Mike Richards?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I played with him at the World Juniors when I was 16 and 17, and he was our captain the year we won. I think it was ‘05. You know, a great leader, a really complete player. As for playing against him, I played against him for a few years now, and have seen him a lot over those three years. He’s a great player. I mean, defensively he’s responsible, also he’s able to score. So when you’re playing against a guy like that you have to be aware.
Q. Kind of an evolution when you played with him on the Canadian team, he was a veteran, and you were sort of a kid in that situation. You started faster than him in the NHL, now he’s doing a whole lot of catch up?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think I look at it that way. We’ve played in the league the same amount of time. You know, for him he’s really established himself as a great player in this league, a reliable one, a responsible one. I’m sure one day he’ll be the captain of that team. He’s a great player, and a lot of things I think I’ve seen with him at World Juniors, he’s brought into the NHL. You know, it’s not surprising that he’s playing as well as he is.
Q. How do you think your personality has rubbed off on this team this year and allowed it to take the approach it’s taken through the playoffs?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I think all the guys are what make our team so special. Me, personally, I think I’ve always tried to lead by example. I think we have a lot of personalities, and the main thing is the guys’ attitudes. If you have a bunch of guys like we have with the right attitude, we’re going to push each other to be better. We’re going to push ourselves to win, and we’re going to be better for that. And I think you’ve seen throughout the year we’ve faced a lot of adversity and the attitude of our guys is a big reason why we’ve had success. So, you know, personally I try to lead by example, but it takes everyone.
Q. First of all, why did you guys not want to quit or maybe you did when Michel took over and he’s called out this team and went public and said how bad defensively it was. Then the other question, has he changed much since he’s taken over in his coaching style?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Well, I think when he was outspoken, I think in that scenario, he wasn’t wrong. I mean, we weren’t playing well. We weren’t playing the right way. We didn’t deserve to get rewarded the way we were playing with our attitude.
You know, sometimes you can’t always be nice about everything and sugarcoat everything. It was what it was, and we knew we had to be better. So I don’t think he’s really changed a whole lot, but I think as players we understand what’s asked of us now. You know, when a coach first comes in maybe it takes some time to feel out different situations and what’s going to happen. But you know, it’s great with the transition with him because we’ve had a lot of guys that we’ve played under before. And we were all kind of able to talk among ourselves and know what to expect. And really, just once guys are going to work every day and expecting nothing but the best, and I think that’s fair.
Q. You’re a little young for this, but there’s a lot of talk that there’s been parallels drawn between your team this year and the early years of the Edmonton Oilers in the ‘80s. How does that comparison work for you?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Well, we have a lot more to prove, I think before we can try to put ourselves in that category. But I can see the comparisons with the youth of our team with the group of exciting players we have, and maybe the style of play. I mean, you know, we have a lot of guys that are fun to watch, starting with Mark, some young players with Gonchar and the Whitneys on D, and up front, obviously, Geno, and Bugsy (Ryan Malone), and all these guys. There’s a lot of people on our team that are fun to watch. I’m sure with that team that was the case, too. But I think it’s more so the youth and the excitement around our team that’s probably comparable to that.
Q. People on the outside say if you could stop yourself and Malkin, it gives the other team the best chance of winning. The Flyers have plenty of talent. But can you name one or two, just one or two that gives your team the best chance of winning this series, that you have to stop?
SIDNEY CROSBY: If we go on this year, I would say Umberger and the way he’s playing right now. If you go with the percentages, I’d say he’s one of those guys. But, I mean, (Mike) Knubles, the (Jeff) Carters, to be honest, you can’t really pick two guys on their team.
You look at their first three lines, and it’s pretty balanced if you look at the production. They’ve got a great power play, so I’d be hard pressed to give you two guys.
Q. Derian Hatcher said he kind of senses that he gives you problems while on the ice. Your rookie year he knocked a couple of your teeth out. Of what’s it like playing against him? And have you learned something about him that can help you?
SIDNEY CROSBY: It’s always a great challenge playing against him. He’s obviously a big guy and takes up a lot of space out there. But I think you look forward to those challenges with any defensive pairing you play with. I mean, I don’t think personally I’d try to change anything.
I haven’t felt like I’ve had to change anything when I’ve played against him more so when I play against any other guys. So for me I’m not trying to try to change anything. He’s obviously a big guy, he’s strong, and you have to find ways to get around him.
Q. To go back to the Oilers comparison, there was almost a giddy, cockiness about that team even before they won anything. It was like they knew they were good, they knew they were having fun and they did it that way. How would you compare what this team is like knowing what that team is like?
SIDNEY CROSBY: We’re confident in each other. I don’t think we’re cocky. Maybe that team wasn’t cocky either, maybe that’s just how they were portrayed. But we’re a confident group of guys who believe in each other. And we push each other. But you can’t afford to be cocky.
I mean, it might have been different then, too. You know, the league is so competitive now. Maybe then they were going into a building that night and they knew they could play okay and still win. That’s not the case in the league anymore. You can’t get away with that.
So I think for us, we’re confident in each other, but nothing beyond that.
Q. They didn’t seem to feel pressure. Do you guys?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I mean, the pressure we feel is what we put on ourselves. We think we have a lot of individual players who have been in pressure situations. And even though they’re young, I think we all try to apply that to any situation now.
Q. There’s been some comparison to how your team carries itself, and how it plays similar to the Oilers in the early ‘80s when they started their run of success. From your memory of watching them, maybe some of the knowledge of the people that you’ve met from that team, do you see comparisons and how so?
COACH THERRIEN: It’s really tough to compare. Honestly, I’m not a big fan about comparison, about if it is teams or players. I think it’s unfair.
Are you going to compare Rocket Richard to Jean Beliveau? and Jean Beliveau are we going to compare to Guy LaFleur? and Gordie Howe? and all those type of players? And the list could go on and on to Wayne Gretzky, and Mario Lemieux, and now we have Sidney Crosby and all those type of players.
If we end up winning Stanley Cup, I think we’re not quite there because we haven’t won anything yet. But we’re a good bunch of young players that, first of all, they’re having a fun time to be together, and they’re having a fun time to compete. And they’re having a fun time with their work ethic, and they’ve got success with it.
If you want to make a comparison, I think that’s the only way we can compare that young group, because we haven’t won anything yet.
Q. I respect the fact you don’t like to come compare, but while we’re on that theme, some have compared Sidney’s game to how Steve Yzerman developed his total game through the playoffs before Detroit started to win. Sorry to ask you to compare, but do you see those qualities in Sidney? The Yzerman type, the Messier type leadership, the little things to win?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, I believe your question is a bit different right now (laughing). There’s no doubt Yzerman was one of the youngest captains in the NHL. Sidney, he is right now. And they’re learning through experience. Even though Sidney’s only 20 years old, he’s a true leader. Really a true leader. And the way that he’s going to handle himself on the ice, the way he’s going to handle himself off the ice, that’s why he’s such a good leader for our group.
Yzerman did the same thing. It took him a few years to win the Stanley Cup, there’s no doubt. But any team they rely on their captain. And I believe right now Sidney Crosby is doing a fantastic job first of all as a captain. He’s doing a fantastic job leading our teams. And if you have comparison between those two, yes, yes.
But time will tell with their respective career, we know the career of Steve Yzerman, but right now Sidney’s having a pretty good start with his career. But there’s no doubt Yzerman was a great leader for the Red Wings, and Crosby right now is a great leader for our club.
Q. Have you mellowed at all? You have the nickname “Bulldog,” and I’m wondering if (?)
COACH THERRIEN: I didn’t know that (laughing). We learn everything.
Q. Have you changed much in your coaching style since, I don’t know, perhaps you even took over Pittsburgh for that matter?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, well first of all, when I came to Pittsburgh there were a lot of things I wanted to change. And the way that we’re going, I don’t believe we’re going to the right direction. And I didn’t put my white gloves, because I didn’t like the direction, the philosophy, and I want to make an impact right away.
But, honestly, we’re growing all together. We’ve got a lot of young players, we’re growing together. And there’s a lot of those young guys we’ve spent some times together in the American Hockey League. Gave me a chance to know them really, really well. How they’re going to be able to be successful.
And, you know what, there’s not one guy that is the same. There’s a lot of guys sometimes need a tap on the back, and this is the only way that they get better, and they’re going to be able to be on top of their game. You could try to do the same thing with another player, and he’s going to fall apart.
So knowing your player, growing together, it’s a big plus for any coaches. Even with the guys that I was with in the American League with them, and there are some guys that I spent almost three years, the Jordan Staals.
The Malkins, the Crosbys, all of those talented players didn’t have to spend some times in the minors. But you start to know your players. You start to know how they’re going to be successful, and the message when I meet those guys one on one, they’re different from one to the other. And knowing your players is helping a lot.
Q. Do you get involved in rivalries or whatever with other coaches like I know you and John have had words during games I think in the minors. Do you look forward to going head to head with him in the playoffs?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, I hope it’s going to stay on the ice. That’s the number one thing. But we’re part of a rivalry. We never know what’s going to happen. He’s a good coach. I respect him as a coach. He’s got a lot of success. He did a fantastic job. Took a team last year that was struggling, and look what he’s doing with the team this year. He’s in the conference finals.
So as far as I’m concerned, he’s a great coach and he’s got a lot of success in the minors. He’s the type of guy that will defend his players. And I’ll do the same if I have to. But I certainly hope that the actor should act and play the game, that’s the way it should be.
Q. I realize you’re probably concerned about everyone on that Flyers roster and how to stop them and don’t want to say anything that would be perceived as disrespecting anyone. But if there were one or two players that keep you up at night most, worried about if we stop them, that gives us our best chance of winning this series, who those one or two might be?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, first of all, it’s a team affair. But you know one thing, their power play has been really successful – during the regular season and the Playoffs. So that’s why, you know, we’re expecting that it is going to be an emotional series from our side and from their side. I think we’re going to have to control our emotion. I think discipline is going to be more important than being over emotional and hurt the team.
So for us, you know, it’s like we’re going to have to pay attention to our discipline, because they’ve got the power play. Guys like (Daniel) Briere can score big goals, big time goals. There’s Richards, that as far as we’re concerned, he’s a good player on both sides of the ice. Martin Biron did a fantastic job in the playoffs so far to help them to be where they are right now.
So they’ve got a few weapons offensively. We’ve a few weapons offensively too as well. So that’s why I think it’s going to be really an interesting series.
Q. In the long period of time that Crosby was out and Fleury was out, what did you learn about your team?
COACH THERRIEN: You learn a lot of things. You give a lot of chance to different players got different roles. And this is one of the messages. Remember that once Sidney got hurt and we went to Montreal to play a game, and that was kind of the topic of my meeting before the game that we could get through those things. The adversity that we were facing. At that time we didn’t have Fleury. We ended up losing Sid, and that was adversity for us to make the playoffs.
The resilience of that team never stops surprising me. You know, a guy like Malkin, elevates his game to another level. We needed that. We give other players different roles that they were not used to it. That’s why, you know, it’s like they learn through that adversity. They’ve got different roles. And when, like I told the players, if we could get out of this, we’re going to become a better team. We are a better team than where we were at that time.
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