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The art of the coaches’ presser

I happen to find coaches' post-game pressers fascinating, because I believe that the personality of the coach and GM are reflected in the personality of their team (please see: the Bruins and "hard but clean" hockey). In the Western Conference, Ken Hitchcock will talk your ear off, Joel Quenneville will "make a funny" or two while maintaining an intense demeanor, and one season of John Tortorella was probably enough;

In the East, Claude Julien and Dan Bylsma will spar with the press, too many aggravating questions will get a, "See you, guys" and a walk-off from Mike Babcock (that's another intriguing wrinkle: some coaches want the dais and podium, letting the PR coordinator cut the press off at their leisure; others like to stand among the media throng and decide when the presser's over themselves; the playoffs make the latter coaches edgier because you're forced to do the formal presser set-up), Randy Carlyle's pressers are like going to a My Chemical Romance concert, circa 2005 (not that there's anything wrong with that); as you've seen with Michel Therrien and Alain Vigneault, some coaches get particularly theatrical, especially when dual-language media are involved.

Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville's presser will follow this gem from Darryl Sutter (and people on the NHL media email list get these transcripts, which occasionally make us laugh, like this one did):


Q.  It was like an eight-minute stretch in the first overtime between whistles.  From the bench, what was that sensation like?

COACH SUTTER:  Trying to get your changes in, trying to get your shifts in.  Overtime is not a real timeout unless there's a stoppage of play at the 10-minute mark.

Q.  Was this one a little more difficult knowing you were 20mins away from advancing and you didn’t get it?

COACH SUTTER:  Not really.  It's a tough building.  Damn near got it.

Q.  Any big adjustments next game?

COACH SUTTER:  You're a little premature in that.

Q.  When is the last time you saw an overtime with that much pace, basically no stoppages?

COACH SUTTER:  Well, probably every one we've had.  How many have we played this year? Two good teams.  Not going to slow down in overtime.

Contrast that one with Quenneville's:


Q.  We talked before the game as far as that line with Shaw, Saad and Kane.  Did you like what they brought tonight?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  They were excellent, outstanding.  They brought speed off the rush, play recognition, finish, support. I thought they all had huge games.

Q.  You've had a lot of questions throughout this series about what you're going to do with Handzus.  This is why he's in there, right?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  He's a smart player.  Penalty killing is his strength.  Shawsy has been playing a lot.  Was half a shift left side, I threw him out there.  He didn't play much in overtime.  But what a great finish.  Happy for him.  Excited about our team.

Q.  Joel, talk about Patrick Kane's night, the confidence with the puck, what he was able to accomplish tonight.

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  He's a special player.  They've been tight on him.  They got a tight gap.  It's tough to get through that neutral zone with possession.

I thought he had some great looks, beat the rusher off his zone.  Read off his new linemates there, figured things out quickly.

He anticipates as good as any player.  Patience level with the puck is as good as anyone.  Nice to see him get a big night like that. Those guys I'm sure are excited about moving forward.

Q.  With the Kings coming back in the second period, was anything said?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  We didn't change too much our approach.  We've been in tough situations before.  I think we wanted to play the right way.  I think when we got behind in Game 2 and Game 3 in the third periods, we opened it up, they picked us apart.

We had more of a purpose.  Obviously scoring early helped us.  Overtime, I've seen a lot of games, been involved in a lot of games. That might have been the greatest overtime I've seen.

Q.  What was the thinking mixing the defense pairings like you did tonight?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Get balance.  Didn't like the quality, the quantity.  The goals we've given up in the last three games.  That was the reason.Q.  Something click for Saad tonight?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  I'd say the line.  Whether it was him...

I thought he had a special night.  He had a lot of speed.  You look at Shawsy's contribution, Kaner's contribution.  It was one of those nights where everything fell in there nicely.

Q.  Last year against the Red Wings you were down 3-1, you re-paired guys there.  Tonight it was the opposite.  Did you like what you saw on the back end?  Why that move?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  That was exactly what we just said.  We didn't like the last three games.  It was almost exactly last year, three down, Detroit, 3-1.  We changed the pairs back.

These pairs that were here tonight were basically the pairs for most of last year.  It wasn't like they were unfamiliar.

Q.  You just mentioned this is maybe the greatest overtime game you've ever been a part of.  With so much going on, when that's happening, can you actually enjoy what's going on?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  When they had the whistle there, basically the timeout in the first overtime there, I don't know how many minutes and seconds, but it was just like it was a 'wow' factor.  I think I appreciated it.  The guys were working.  The pace was unbelievable.

It was good action.  I guess maybe had a little appreciation when there was a stoppage in play.

Q.  How often had Kane played with Saad and Shaw?  Was it just a feel?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  We said this morning, I thought that line with Benny on it last game was really good.  Then just putting Kaner on it with Saad and Shawsy, it just feels like Shawsy gets kind of a great opportunity to play with those guys.

Hopefully what we discovered today could be a line for a long time.

Q.  Joel, what aren’t you getting from Versteeg?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Tough shift there.  He didn't see the ice after that, so not much.

Q.  How much did pride factor into tonight, especially the third period?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  You know, our guys, they find ways.  It's a testament to their competitiveness, their will to win, overcoming a lot of hurdles and obstacles.

Tonight was a great, great challenge with a great start.  Having to come back in the third, winning it in dramatic fashion.

It's a big win for us.  We still have to go win in L.A.  I'm sure we're going to be excited about the challenge.

Update: Video. Oh yes, video. 1:22 for Sutter...

Quenneville clocks in at 5:19. Short for a game-winning presser for him:

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, darryl+sutter, joel+quenneville, los+angeles+kings


gowings's avatar

I do like Sutter….but when you lose, I guess you keep things even shorter!

Posted by gowings from MTL on 05/29/14 at 09:30 AM ET


George, you have to give Sutter some credit here: he has more knowledge and experience with hockey in his pinky than L.A. reporters have collectively. Their collective hockey knowledge is embarrassingly low and all they want to ask questions about are sports cliches. I know that this whole “winning” at hockey think is new to L.A. and the reporters will get smarter over time, but it is a bit ridiculous. Having said that, I think Sutter enjoys taking little jabs at them from time to time.

Posted by scooter on 05/29/14 at 01:23 PM ET

pautna's avatar

@scooter - Last I checked Sutter was in Chicago last night, not LA, so how do we know ‘who’ was asking questions?  This is the Conference Finals, so you have a lot of reporters from all over the spectrum asking questions, right?

And this, “...more knowledge and experience with hockey in his pinky than L.A. reporters have collectively.” - Wrong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helene_Elliott - She’s in the hockey hall of fame for a reason. And she’s been covering hockey before Sutter ever played an NHL game.

“I know that this whole “winning” at hockey think is new to L.A. ” Wow, really? We used to have the greatest player to ever play the game on our team, and they won a lot back then.

It’s funny to me how condescending your post is while displaying a total lack of knowledge of hockey history in LA yourself.

Finally, I can guarantee you stupid questions are asked in all 30 NHL cities.


Posted by pautna on 05/29/14 at 03:41 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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